Beautiful music by Romanian composer Ciprian Porumbescu
June 13, 2009 12:12 PM   Subscribe

The fiddle is usually associated with the hillbilly mania of people like Michael Cleveland (the nerdiest master ever to wield a bow), or the can't-get-it-out-of-your-head knees up party sound of celtic music. The violin, on the other hand, is associated with the elegance of orchestral music. They're actually one and the same instrument, applied to different sounds. And nobody wrote for this instrument more movingly than the Romanian composer Ciprian Porumbescu (1853-1883). Listen to his Ballad for Violin and Orchestra with your eyes closed, and weep for the suffering of the world.
posted by crazylegs (23 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Looks for all the world like Bubbles playing the fiddle in the first video.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:30 PM on June 13, 2009

That instrument can also be used to good effect in jazz/rock fusion, as demonstrated here.
posted by TedW at 1:32 PM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Never heard of Porumbescu before. Nice piece. Closing your eyes is good advice, because if you watch the photos accompanying the music, you will certainly weep for the suffering of the world, and not in a good way, either.

I'm sure you'll get lots of comments from others with other favorite violin moments, so let me just throw in my two cents: (OK, not a violin concerto, but still) Beethoven's late string quartets!
posted by kozad at 1:32 PM on June 13, 2009

I'm always moved by Bartok's Sixth String Quartet:
String Quartet No. 6, Op. 7 (1...
posted by twsf at 1:45 PM on June 13, 2009

Slightly different instrument, but the electric violin is pretty cool as well.

This is a nice piece, I haven't heard of it or the composer before.
posted by Autarky at 1:47 PM on June 13, 2009

Why does the description of the ballad say "a painful cry to god? Is it actually religious?
posted by thylacine at 1:54 PM on June 13, 2009

The fiddle is also associated with traditional (and not-so-traditional) Cajun music.
posted by manguero at 2:01 PM on June 13, 2009

If you watch that video, don't do it at work unless naked boobs are a-okay for your work place.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:07 PM on June 13, 2009

I'm thinking that Romani music has influenced most of these different styles, including Cajun. According to some digging and reading between the lines, it seems that a lot of the Cajuns and Acadians in Quebec came from a part of France where the folk music was heavily influenced by the Romani. (It also included a couple of instruments resembling the oboe and bagpipe. I guess not all the traditions made it over the water.) I can't tell if Celtic music was also influenced by Romani music (or could it be the other way around?), but Celtic music is a major influence on bluegrass.

Nice post, crazylegs! I could be googling this stuff all afternoon. And I had never heard of Porumbescu, so great introduction.
posted by zinfandel at 2:53 PM on June 13, 2009

If you watch that video, don't do it at work unless naked boobs are a-okay for your work place.

Yeah, and don't look at pictures of Michelangelo's David or The Creation of Adam either, there are penises showing!

For fuck's sake. I would think most employers would be able to distinguish between fine art and pornography, and if they can't, it's not everyone else's responsibility to help you comply with their insane ultrapuritan whims*. Also, if that were the case, you'd probably be happier working for someone who isn't insane anyway.

* I happen to be of the opinion that it's not everyone else's responsibility to enable people to dick around on the Internet at work anyway, however, "NSFW" tags are a reasonable compromise that hurt no one. Unless you get snippy about it.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:56 PM on June 13, 2009

I hadn't actually looked at the pictures before posting, only listened to the music. Boobs or no boobs, they're pretty cheesy. Like I said, close your eyes.
posted by crazylegs at 3:01 PM on June 13, 2009

The difference between the two is that you can't spill beer on a violin.
posted by MNDZ at 3:11 PM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Leonid Kogan performing on Paganini's violin.
posted by francesca too at 3:22 PM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hey! A musician joke I haven't heard! (By the way, in my very first real pro piano job - in Uppsala, Sweden, 1973 - some drunk came up on spilled beer on the shitty piano I had to work with. I lived every musician cliche in the next couple of decades.)

Most musician jokes are interchangeable (banjos, accordians, especially), but there are a few special jokes for oboists...and especially, violists.
posted by kozad at 3:27 PM on June 13, 2009

For fuck's sake. I would think most employers would be able to distinguish between fine art and pornography.

In St Alia's defense, not all the boobies were of the fine-art variety.
posted by Ritchie at 4:59 PM on June 13, 2009

I went to art school and I know the difference between fine art boobage and OMG BOOBIES boobage. This was definitely the latter variety I was talking of. And I am of the opinion that people have the right to know if a link they click has something they might not choose to view -or at least choose to view at home and not at work.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:55 PM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Beautiful music by Romanian composer Ciprian Porumbescu. WARNING: TITS!!
posted by crazylegs at 6:52 PM on June 13, 2009

The best ever duet for guitar, voice, violin, and alarm clock.
posted by idiopath at 6:54 PM on June 13, 2009

"...Cajuns and Acadians in Quebec". That's just silly. You know about Wikipedia, right?

It's well established that Rom travelling people in Ireland had/have an influence on traditional Irish music, and it seems likely that that would be the case on the continent as well.

PS: there's no such thing as "Celtic" music, unless you're referring to the commercial genre created by record companies to sell Enya disks - which has never heard of Gypsy music.
posted by sneebler at 7:54 PM on June 13, 2009

I'd never heard of Porumbescu. The Ballad is lovely. I've passed it along to my husband's string quartet, suggesting to them that an arrangement for quartet would work well.

Along with Cajun and Acadian fiddle music, there's also Métis fiddling. See/hear more of Métis fiddler Sierra Noble. She also plays from traditions other than Métis in the linked clip.
posted by angiep at 8:41 PM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cajun music is great, but no, there is probably no Roma influence on it at all - that clip of Michael Doucet laying a Dennis McGee tune is great, but Dennis was half Seminole Indian, and his music was an older repetoire that he learned from his Grandfather. The rythyms in Cajun owe more to African/Creole influences than to any imagined Gypsy influence. French folk music - like most West Europe music traditions - didn't have a strong Musician Gypsy participation until relatively recently (a century or so.)

Although it is considered PC to use the term Roma to refer to all "Gypsy" people, most east European musicians who are Gypsy don't usually identify themselves by the term "Roma" unless speaking in Romani language. They usually use the local terms for themselves" ţigan" "cigány" "yifti". Those groups (Ćaće Roma) who do speak Romani rarely work as professional musicians. It gets a bit more mixed up in RomaniaNicolae Guta , where everybody is into the manele sound. Nicolae Guta is my favorite, but he actually has always used a non-Gypsy fiddler in his band (Ion Trifoi, who learned from the same old Maramures fiddler as me.)

A lot of Romanians are going to hate me for even bringing up manele in a discussion of Porumbescu. I actually prefer the more traditional Romanian fiddle music. And some modern stuff.
posted by zaelic at 3:55 AM on June 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't think everyone has a responsibility to label stuff as NSFW, but they definitely have the right to label it that way if they want to. So St Alia volunteered the fact that this might be NSFW for some workplaces. It wasn't a complaint or a demand, just providing some info that a small segment of MeFi might find valuable. So, relax, DecemberBoy.
posted by Bugbread at 6:02 AM on June 14, 2009

/me shrugs and shuffles on to the next post, but not before noting:

"full of poetry and bitter nostalgia, with light and shade, a mixture of "doina", old dance and song, everything in the environment of serene melancholy" ... nice to find this; the 10:51 on the YT clip was a pleasant soundtrack, but frankly (and I'll probably catch some flack here), I don't think this even begins to compare to the Mendolsohn or Tchaikovsky concertos which, in the hands of the right violinist, will take your breath away.

I'm just saying that, while I appreciate discovering Porumbescu, I think some of the praise being heaped out here (and on that awful YT page) is a bit too effusive. I suspect that the "patriotic" aspect of Porumbescu'sbody of work may be one of the reasons for this.

Good stuff, but again, no Mendolsohn ... and that's not a negative criticism ... just a call for some perspective.

(A further note: I am always amazed/baffled/intrigued/annoyed by our desires to infliuct images on the sounds that get created ... people often ask me what I am seeing when i perform and I think it disillusions them to know that I am NOT seeing beautiful horizons, running streams, etc., but rather am focusing on the sounds as they are being created. And yet, I am as gullty when listening to others music! Go figure ... )
posted by aldus_manutius at 9:14 AM on June 14, 2009

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