Allen Ginsberg Music Notes At Auction

Ginsberg-iana at auction today at R& R Auction Company, Amherst, New Hampshire. As the auctioneer’s note explains:

Extensive ALS (autographed letter signed), five pages on three sheets, each 8.5 x 11, February 10, 1971. Writing students at the Symphony School of America in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, the famed poet discusses some of his favorite music compositions. In part: “My favorite musical Compositions accumulated in ear/mind for several decades to present include, since you asked: (A) Jannequin – Les oiseaux (See Ezra Pound’s 1970 Edition Cantos p.450) Alphonse De Mudarra [sic, Alonso Mudarra] – David’s Lament (Triste Estaba El Rey David) Bach – Unaccompanied partitas (Esp. #2), Mass in 5 minor & St Matthew’s Passion. Beethoven – Grosse Fuge, Piano Sonata op. 111, Quarter op 116 (?) the one so straine’d – Missa Solemnis…” Ginsberg then lists pieces by Schubert, Brahms, Prokofieff, and Schoenberg.

He continues with “(B): ‘Prajnaparamita Sutra’ [Highest perfect wisdom] –so chanted in Sino-Japanese presently in USA by S.F. Soto Zen Temple – by Roshi Suzuki & Disciples – Send someone to learn from them and you can perform it as a musical presentation of Chantery which will turn everyone on! Hare Khrishna Mantra – Any Iskon [sic ISKCON, International Society for Krishna Consciousness] version, as per Fugs record on which I sang, or George Harrison’s recent ‘My Sweet Lord’ or as done by Swami Bhaktivedanta’s Groups around USA & London…(C) Scott Joplin – Maple Leaf Rag (& others) opera: Tremonisha (Can get score & recorded version from scholars Sam & Ann Charters c/o Gotham Book Mart 41 W 47 St. – N.Y,C.) Ma Rainey’s version of Easy C.C. Rider blues ‘See, See what you have done’ etc. and other (forget name) ‘I’m gonna buy me a pistol / Jus as long as I am tall, Lord Lord Lord / Kill my man and / Hit the cannonball…”

“Bessie Smith’s version of Empy [sic] Bed Blues, At the Christmas Ball, Gimme a Pigfoot & a Bottle of Beer, *Young Woman’s Blues especially Leadbelly’s versions of Boll Weevil, Black Girl, Irene. Ray Charles version of ‘Feel All Right’ & Got a Woman. Billie Holliday’s Version of Strange Fruit, Fine & Mellow, I Got a Right to Sing the Blues, Easy Living. Thelonius Monk Mysterioso, Round About Midnight. Charles ‘Bird’ Parker — Ornithology. Lester Young’s Lester Leaps In & put these, listed above, as examples of Classical American Music which, if singers & musicians have proper training, they can approximate, imitate, or improvise in the spirit of original, for mind’s historical pleasure, & for Cultural revolution’s acknowledgement as ‘classic’ U.S. art.”

On page 4, Ginsberg has penned, in full, “Opera. Bertol Brecht / Kurt Weil Mahagony Greatest of XX Century Operas. Perform as much of it as possible.”

He’s headed the last page: “Pop Fragments addenda.” In full, “Some Versions of Rolling Stones’ Lets Spend the Night Together. Beatles I wanna Hold Your Hand (Early Beatles), I heard the News today Oh Boy (Pepper), I am a Walrus (Difficult Composition), Strawberry Fields. J. Lennon – Give Peace a Chance. Geo. Harrison (as before) – My Sweet Lord (Extended & Improved with varying mantras chorused in backround [sic]). Bob Dylan – Masters of War, & Hard Rain, Tamborine man, Sad Eyed Lady of Lowland, Gates of Eden & ask your students to check out, hear, my own recorded versions, tuned to music, of Blake’s Songs of Innocence & Experience recorded last year 1970 – to see if they are singable by others than myself – especially Nurses Song and The Grey Monk. – there’s all I can think of, fast.”

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