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Tod und Verklärung, Op.24


“Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth” by J.M.W. Turner (1842)

The tangled links between my various long-term research ventures mystify even me; they make me believe that “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” is pessimistic. This evening I’m actually working on the William Halsey Wood manuscript and particularly the chapters which might be called “Birth” and “Death”. It’s a sobering task.

In the wake of 9/11, several works of artistic expression followed soon after. I’m not familiar with specific works of visual art — painting, sculpture, and possibly some other media — but among musical compositions, there is a piece by John Adams titled “On the Transmigration of Souls” which brings me to abject sobbing when e’er I hear it and I don’t care who knows.

Some of you may be aware that Halsey Wood has touched Agincourt three times (through my agency, I must admit): 1) as inspiration for the dollhouse Anson Tennant crafted for his sister Claire the Christmas of her fifth year and his fifteenth; as architect of the second Fennimore County courthouse, the sole example of “public” design in Wood’s oeuvre; and as source for the first set of “Wm Halsey Wood Blox™”. You may not believe at least two of these were innocent borrowings founded with a modicum of logic, though I don’t believe that Wood would object to my interpretations of his creativity. Bringing these to the attention of his grandson WHW III doesn’t concern me because our relationship has grown stronger as the manuscript on his grandfather progresses in recent months. Still, it is humbling to write about anyone’s death, especially an historic figure of Wood’s significance (to me) and architectural merit (again, to me). And intimidating when I think of failure.

Oh, and “Tod und Verklärung” (Op.24) is a musical composition of 1888-1889 by Richard Strauss. If it had been performed in Greater New York City, he might have heard it.

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