The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, September 16, 1993 - 5
S'il vous plat, don't blame it on Rio - blame it on the French
We must wonder sometimes what
sense there is in all the world's suffer-
ing. Is there one cortex of evil from
which all disaster emanates? When we
look to the patterns of history, it be-
comes clear that there is one entity
responsible for all things bad and un-
pleasant - the French. Why do bad
things happen to good people? Why did
The Borodin String Quartet: they may look a bit uptight, but hey - they're the greatest living interpreters of Shostakovich.
By KIRK WETTERS
This year'sUniversityMusical Society concert schedule
contains a great variety of events, but it has a noticeable
emphasis on Russian and ex-Soviet performers and reper-
toire. The performance of all 15 string quartets of Dmitri
Shostakovich by theirgreatest living interpreters, the Borodin
String Quartet, is the high point of the "Russian" concerts,
and is one of the most important events of the entire season.
These concerts, to be performed throughout the last week of
January, are an unparalleled opportunity for concertgoers to
experience some of the most pivotal and emotionally sear-
ing works in the 20th century chamber music repertoire.
Twentieth-century repertoire has a
substantial place in this season's line-
up of events ... (however,) there's no
danger of a modem music takeover.
Also in January, the Trio Tchaikovsky will perform
Shostakovich's opus 15 piano trio. Among other Russian
groups, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic (under the baton of
Mariss Jansons) will perform Prokofiev, Rachmaninov and
Berlioz at the end of October. This orchestra, known to
many by its previous name, the Leningrad Philharmonic,
has the richest tradition of all Russian orchestras. In addi-
tion, Vladimir Spivakov will direct the Moscow Virtuosi,
the Beaux Arts Trio will perform Arensky's d minor piano
trio, and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra will present
an all-Russian program including Tchaikovsky's Violin
Concerto with soloist Gil Shaham.
Twentieth-century repertoire also has a substantial place
in this season's line-up of events, starting with soprano
Jessye Norman, who will include songs of Messiaen on her
September recital. Boston Musica Viva and the Kronos
Quartet will explore even more adventuresome repertoire in
their programs in October and March. More mainstream
performers have also decided to include "modern" reper-
toire, such as Andre Watts, who will play Lutoslawski in his
There's no danger of a modern music takeover -
classical war-horses are also featured in abundance. Kurt
Masur will conduct Mendelssohn's much-loved Symphony
No. 4; Giuseppe Sinopoli will direct Wagner, Beethoven
and Schumann and the Emerson String Quartet will perform
two quartets of Beethoven.
Among the many- "super-star" performers who will
appear this year, one of the most rewarding should be
November appearance of American baritone Thomas
Hampson. Hampson will perform Grieg, various songs on
poems by Walt Whitman and Robert Schumann's master-
piece, the song-cycle "Dichterliebe."Alsonoteworthy is the
appearance of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in March
under the direction of Kenneth Jean. Although Jean is not a
super-star conductor, it is likely that this concert will top the
CSO's disappointing Ann Arbor visit with Music Director.
Complete listings of '93-'94 events are available at the
Burton Memorial Tower. For tickets and more
information, call the UMS box office at 764-2538. A
limited quantity of half-price tickets (limit two per student
ID) will be available to students on Saturday between
10.00 a.m. and 1:00 p.n. at the Hill Auditorium box
the Kennedys die? The answer: France.
Because this is a somewhat radical
position, and because the evils of propa-
ganda and revisionist history have
painted quite a false picture of France,
perhaps it would be fitting to give a brief
history of France - one which might
reveal some of the surprisingly odious
facts about this annoying nation.
The first king in the royal line of the
French was Hugh Capet, literallymean-
ing Hugh "Head." Being the first king,
he was to establish a long precedent in
dumb names for the French royalty, like
Charles the Bald and Philip the Fair.
The English meanwhile conferred more
sensible royal epithets, like Henry the
The French people tended to copy
the British all the time and for a while
named all their royalty Henry. This lead
to dreadful confusion which culminated
in the War of the Three Henrys. The
Protestant Henry Bourbon who won the
war is popularly misquoted as having
said, "Paris is worth a mass," when in
fact he stated, "I hate Paris. It's dirty, the
beds are small, I don't know anyone
here and there's nothing to do. I'm
Louis XIV's reign, while known for
being the quintessence of absolutist
monarchy, was instead a blight of lice,
beetles, vermin and uncontrollable di-
arrhea. Later, the French revolted and
cut off Louis XVI's head, copying the
British again. Decapitation is the na-
tional pastime in France. In fact, there
were only three or four Frenchman left
with heads after the Revolution, and
they were all opium addicts.
In this vulnerable period, Napoleon
took over France and most of Europe.
Napoleon came to his end when a small
bookshelf collapsed on him, crushing
his puny body. Some suggest Napoleon
was simply misplaced during spring
After that, it was not so many failed
republics later that the French collabo-
rated with the Nazis under the Vichy
regime. True, there was a French resis-
tance, but pouting doesn't really count.
Also, Vichy, like usual, was a pretty
After World War II Charles de Gaulle
took over. He campaigned to make
France once again a world power. His
plan was this: he would go around and
insist loudly in public places like restau-
rants and lavatories, "France is once
again aworld power." This sortof think-
ing didn't really work for France. How-
ever it was extremely successful in get-
bumper stickers read: "I
am a grown man and I am
now president of France."
Nobody votes in France
anyway, they just sit
around cutting each
others' heads off.
ting de Gaulle into office since he was
really a seven-year-old girl. His cam-
paign bumper stickers read: "I am a
grown man and I am now president of
France." Nobody votes in France any-
way, they just sit around cutting each
others' heads off.
France claims to have several im-
portant contributors to the intellectual
development of Europe, like Descartes
and the mathematician Pascal.They may
have been pretty smart, but no onecould
understand them because they spoke in
French. Furthermore, the French poi-
losophers Voltaire, Montesquieu and
Rousseau all copied the British. And
Rousseau was known to be severely
depressed because he was French.
There was one good French writer
-AlbertCamus -butafellow French-
man, Jean-Paul Sartre, was so obnox-
ious to him that Camus drovehis car into
Recently, many people have begun
trying to defendFrance. "But the French
gave us the Statue of Liberty," they say.
We now know this was only a rumor
started by Charles de Gaulle. "But E T.
was French," they say. This is the poor-
est argument of all; everyone knows E.
T. is from outer space.
Itisamystery what goeson inFrance
today, but most people think it has to do
with wine and cheese. Others put for-
ward the "cigarettes and mustaches"
theory about affairs in France. Reports
indicate that France is now a ruinous
soiled nation which reeks of tuna salad.
BA CK TO SCHOOL SPECIALSI
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