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December 31, 2012

For New Year's Eve, a musical toast to brotherhood and sisterhood

I can get pretty sentimental on the last day of the year, and I thought some of you might be the same. So here's a little sentiment for New Year's Eve, courtesy of Johann Strauss' "Die Fledermaus."

There is a wonderful moment in Act 2 when all of the mirth and slapstick of the operetta gives way to something gentle and, I think, quite genuine.

This number, "Brüderlein und Schwesterlein," sends a message that boils down to: Let's all promise to get along tomorrow after having so much fun tonight -- a message perfect for a New Year's Eve toast. This scene inspired Strauss to exceptional melodic heights -- the ultimate peak in his greatest work for the stage.

I've posted two versions here, because you (OK, I) can never get enough of this gorgeous music. I also thought that ...

the contrast in interpretations might intrigue you.

The first version, which moves along nicely, is led by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. The more spacious second clip finds Carlos Kleiber in sublime form on the podium (the camera understandably spends a lot of time on him). The Kleiber video continues after "Bruderlein," so you can enjoy more of festive "Fledermaus" if you like.

So here's my New Year's Eve wishes for brotherhood and sisterhood:

Posted by Tim Smith at 7:58 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes, Drama Queens

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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