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October 30, 1980 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-10-30

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the ann arbor
film cooperative,

The Michigan Daily Thursday, October 30, 1980 Page 5
Meier leads 'U Symphony

Be an angel.
Read iePio



7:00 & 9:00 Aud. A
An award-winning
comedy about
partner swapping.
Swedish with subtitles


Thank God for Gustav Meier, who led
the University Symphony Orchestra on
Tuesday, October 28 at Hill Auditorium
mould easily be making it as a conductor
'6 professional orchestras, yet he
chooses otherwise. He's the director of
the University Orchestras and Opera
Productions, but his other credentials
are even more impressive, including
studies at the University of Zurich,
guest conductorships with New York
City, San Francisco, Santa Fe, and
Zurich operas, and orchestras in
Europe, North and South America.
Mr. Meier once again demonstrated
is stature as a musician as he led the
niyersity Symphony' in a program
consisting of Johannes Brahm's First
Symphony, opus 68, Giuseppi Verdi's
Overture to "La Forza del Destino,"
and: the first public performance of
Eugene Kurtz's "Mecanique". The
concert was altogether superb for a

student ensemble, and certainly as
much credit is due the orchestra mem-
bers as their leader for making the
music come alive the way it did.
THE CONCERT began with the sym-
phony, one of Brahms' most powerful
and dramatic works. Brahm's ad-
mirers dubbed his First Symphony
the "The Tenth," because they believed
Brahms to be the true successor to
Beethoven. Indeed, the main theme of
the last movement of Brahm's First
resembles the "Ode to Joy" theme of
Beethoven's Ninth in one place, and
Brahms' angry reply, "Any fool can see
that!" to someone who naively pointed
out the similarity is well known. Brah-
ms was a humble man; humble enough
at least to be equally angered by those
who considered him Beethoven's suc-
cessor, but if he was not, he came as
close as any man could in his First
The performance by the University

Symphony did justice to this towering
work, and aside from a few minor slips
by players, it was. thoroughly
professional. Balance, clarity, ex-
pressiveness and precision were all
contributed by the orchestra, and Mr. -
Meier's interpretation was intense and
well thought out. It was obvious that a
great deal of work had been invested in
the preparation of the performance,
and it paid off. There was one unsual
aspect of the interpretation, though, in
the first movement. This movement is
the most stormy and powerful of all the
Brahms symphonies, yet it was given a
curiously restrained reading by *Mr.
Meier. In the last movement he really
unleashed the orchestra, but for some
reason the much more violent opening
did not come across with the same for-
cefulness. Out of the three movements
following the first it would be difficult to
say which recieved the best perfor-
mance; they were all superlative. The
expressiveness and beauty achieved

was certainly equal to performances by
many famous conductors and ensem-
Next on the program was a new work,
Eugene Kurtz's "Mecanique," which
was-written for the French Radio and
Television Orchestra and received its
first public performance on Tuesday.
Mr. Kurtz, a resident of Paris, is a
visiting professor of composition this
year at the U. of M., and was on hand at
the concert. "Mechanique" is bright,
jittery music, and though it is basically
modern in idiom, there are some
echoes of the Romantic period in it the
work calls for a large contingent of per-
cussion and features fast exchanges
between soloists and groups, which the
orchestra handled with a great deal of
precision. The work contains some
rather windy chromatic writing which
recalls at times Romantic techniques in
general and specifically Sibelius, who
was particularly adept at such writing.
The work is intricate and colorful, but
Kurtz extends the piece longer than the
amount of material he uses warrants,
and the piece became somewhat
tiresome toward the end. Nevertheless,
the composer was called out twice by
an appreciative audience.
Concluding the concert was a work
guaranteed to please: the Overture to
Verdi's "La Forza del Destino." This is
vigorous and exciting music, and
special praise must go to the brass sec-
tion of the orchestra, which contributed
a great deal to an altogether
exhilarating performance. Once again
Mr. Meier led the orchestra in a fine in-
terpretation, and demonstrated that he
is the premiere conductor at the
University of Michigan.




"IN GOD WE TRUST" 6:40 & 10:20-"19410-8:20



FRI-7:10, 9:00
A a SAT, SUN-5:20, 7:10, 9:00

Adistinguished eighteenth-century
scholar once said, with much gusto,
"If You think of eighteenth-century
English literature as the stuff of a
man's club, then you have a good idea
f it." Needless 'to say, English
rofessors are given to exaggeration.
But it is true that Erica Jong is doing ,
something quite challenging by
choosing eighteenth-century England
as the geographical and stylistic setting
of the memoirs of her proto-feminist
heroine, Fanny Hackabout-Jones.
Though Jong is most interested in
describing the plight of a lively,
thinking woman trapped in a masculine
ociety, she is most engaging when
endering the natural act. In Fanny:
Being the True History of the Adven-
tures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones (New
American Library, $12.95), Jong shows
that she is a master of high por-
nography. Fanny Hackabout-Jones, an
ambitious, struggling writer-and
hard-working harlot-animates the
language of almost everyone in her
memoirs with a seemingly endless
number of words and phrases and the
instruments of love. Indeed, more than
nce Jong has Fanny offer an
alphabetical list as dialogue. "'Tis the
Crack, the Cranny, the Cradle, the
Cream-Jug, the Cuckoo's Nest, the Cun-
tkin, an' also Cupid's Alley," says Lan-
celot Robinson, a well-travelled pirate.
He says all this just before he
declares majestically, "but as fer me, I
ne'er found a use fer it."
SUCH FLOWERS of wit are very
"eighteenth-century." Jong obviously
*as read deeply -in the major comic
prose writers of the period: Jonathan
Swift, Daniel DeFoe, and Henry.
Fielding. In fact, according to the scut-
tlebutt among the New York literati,
Jong first became interested in writing
a book such as Fanny by thinking of
Fielding's great novel, The History of
Tom Jones, A Foundling, and won-
dering: what if Tom Jones were a girl?
But Jong also has read much of the
extremely popular, sub-literary sorts of
eighteenth-century writing, such as the
travel book and the criminal biography
In Fanny, as in many criminal
biographies, the "highwaymen" are
terribly witty fellows, always eager to
recite a few heroic couplets before at-

wrn in the 1700's

tending to the less genteel business of
robbery. Jong also has many events
transpire at actual places: the bad guys
are incarcerated at Newgate Prison,
and hanged at Tyburn. Such attention
to detail allows the reader to 'catch the
spirit of eighteenth-century prose.
Surely one could easily point out a
few anachronisms in Fanny, and at-
tempt to argue that Jong has not done
her homework well enough. This would
be mere pedantry. The detailed
descriptions of eighteenth-century
England are exciting, and because she
pays special attention to the prose style
of another age, Fanny is an extraor-
dinary literary performance.
BUT THE ."MODERN" ideas which
Jong presents are for the most part
hackneyed. For example, Fanny is able
to find friendship with only Lancelot
Robinson, a homosexual, who is not (at
first) sexually aroused by her. He is
much more aroused, Fanny reports, by
his well-built side-kick "of Sable Com-
plexion," Paul.
Fanny's thoughts on men are about
as compelling as those one expects to
find in a "Dear Abby" column. Almost
all men in the book are driven by lust,
and thus are presented as comic butts.
Jonathan Swift and John Cleland
(author of Fanny Hill) are among the
literary personages who hire Fanny for
unusual sexual frolics. Even Alexander
Pope, the greatest poet of the age,
makes an assault on Fanny's
"Maidenhead," while he recites from
his poetry, "Whate'er is, IS RIGHT !"
But alas, he achieves no success, for as
Fanny reports, "just as he drew near
my tender Virgin Cunniken, his own
Eagerness brought on the Ultimate
Period of his Hot Fit of Lust, of which
my firm young thighs receiv'd the
egregious effusion."
An amusing passage, to be sure. But
there is simply too much of this in the
first 400 pages. It all becomes very
boring after -a while. And by page 400,
Jong feels the need to introduce
scatology, and has Fanny bend down to
deposit into the gaping mouth of a
willing sea captain what Gulliver calls
"that uneasy load." It is not far off the
mark to suggest that Jong offers a sort
of female chauvinism in much of Fan-

WHEN WRITING about women,
however, Jong offers more mature
ideas. Near the middle of the book,
Fanny must confront a problem: her
first sexual encounter, primarily
recreational, becomes, as she had
feared, procreative. Jong thoughtfully
allows much space for the details of a
live birth in eighteenth-century
England. She is not at all overbearing
in presenting the troubles of a
woman-or a child-encountered in
what has become a routine procedure
today. It is here that Jong most convin-
cingly presents a modern woman trap-
ped in a masculine world.
The Afterword is perhaps the most
touching part of the book. In most
books, the Afterword is a repository for
some conventional comments on sour-
ces, libraries, and editorial help. Jong
adds something extra, though. Having
cast off the persona of her sensual and
witty heroine, she explains why she
wrote the book. In an undergraduate
course in the eighteenth century at
Barnard College, she caught the en-
thusiasm of her teacher, Professor
James L. Clifford. Speaking of the
many students who enjoyed "lots of
animated give-and-take" in the
classroom, Jong simply writes, "Jim
Clifford made the eighteenth century
come alive for us." In this academic
world peopled by far too many literary
"theorists" to whom teaching is a
secondary responsibility, it is quite
refreshing to -consider the enormous
literary effort that was inspired in large
part by one good teacher. Considered
together, the Afterword and the 495-
page text constitute a defense of the
formal literary education.
Fanny is surely not an imitation of an
eighteenth-century novel. Nor is it a
modern feminist novel. It is perhaps
best understood as one modern
woman's personal attempt to convey
her love for eighteenth-century English
To check whether baking powder still
has its leveaning power, stir one
teaspoonful into one-quarter of a coup
of hot water and watch for the mixture
to bubble.

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Special Guest:
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November 12
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Hill Auditorium
on Sale
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$8.50 7.50 6.50
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in Ann Arbor:
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