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Ave Verum Corpus

Ave Verum Corpus has often been described as one of the few perfect pieces of music ever written. It is a mere three minutes long and simple in musical structure but ranks among Mozart’s best works. Ave Verum Corpus (Hail, True Body), (K. 618), is a motet (a short piece of sacred choral music, typically polyphonic and unaccompanied) in D major composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1791.

Mozart composed the motet in 1791 in the middle of writing his opera Die Zauberflöte. He wrote it while visiting his wife Constanze, who was pregnant with their sixth child and staying in the spa Baden bei Wien. Mozart set the 14th century Eucharistic hymn in Latin, Ave Verum Corpus, to music to be used in the Baden church. He wrote the motet for Anton Stoll, a friend of his and of Joseph Haydn. Stoll was the musical director of the parish St. Stephan, Baden. The setting was composed to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi; the autograph is dated 17 June 1791. (The Feast of Corpus Christi falls on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday, and in 1791 was observed on May 25.) The composition is only forty-six bars long and is scored for SATB choir (soprano, alto, tenor and bass), string instruments, and organ. Mozart’s manuscript contains minimal directions, with only a single sotto voce marking at the beginning.

The motet was composed less than six months before Mozart’s death. While Mozart’s Requiem is a full, dramatic composition, the motet expresses the Eucharistic thoughts with simple means, suited for the church choir in a small town which was its intended use. Little would Mozart suspect that his simple work would be featured by virtually every international choir two hundred years later.

I have included the following video that features the Vienna Boys Choir with the musical notation for melody. As this piece was composed for use by church members, it does not take an accomplished singer to handle the melody. Give it a try yourself; you will be pleasantly surprised.

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When Push Comes To Pull

My entire life I have always had a problem with the “push – Pull” thing when it comes to doors. Often the direction simply doesn’t make sense to me or it could just be my awkward sense of direction.

In stores I am constantly pushing when I should be pulling and visa versa; yes, even when it is plainly marked on the door.  It seems to be what I have always been destined to do. It is a little more than embarrassing when I’m heaving up against a door to exit only to see the plain sign: “pull.” It is equally pathetic when I’m pulling on a door with all my might and then I look down and see that tiny sign that says “push.”

Returning to my original thesis, it often seems to me that the direction of the door opening just doesn’t jive with common sense. As an example, when there are items stacked right next to the door frame and the sign says pull to exit, I am always afraid of spilling some merchant’s wares on the ground. I’m sure somewhere there is a book or pamphlet that explains the Push – Pull etiquette. I just have never discovered these lost pages.

To make my door dyslexia even worse, I have lived in Italy for nearly two decades and I still don’t know how to open most doors. Yes, I know that spingere means push but somehow it often fails to register. I have similar issues with the direction of the door opening here. Why would one have to pull a door inward in a crowded small toilet stall to exit? You could wind up getting wet! Likewise, why would you push open a door leaving a building on a busy street with no sidewalk? You could get really hurt if you weren’t very careful.

When push comes to pull, I now just look for the sign and hope that the guy who put it there had a better sense of direction than I do. In the absence of such advice, I just tug the door gently and try to take my best shot – It’s a fifty-fifty proposition at best.

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Everyday Is Payday

Thinking back today…

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A long time ago, I heard the words but being young, perhaps I did not understand them. I hear them still but now I am able to smile.

Sixty years ago, the man at the Safeway market was standing in line to checkout his groceries. When his items were tallied, he presented the cashier with a personal check as he had done for many years. The cashier looked blankly at the piece of paper and rudely tossed it back at the man. “This is no good!” The man was puzzled and shyly asked, “Why not?” The young man behind the counter was well prepared to do verbal battle and said in the snidest of voices, “Because you wrote a check here once, and you did not have sufficient funds in the bank!” The man sat his groceries down and tried to explain that yes, on one occasion he did not have…

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I Never Got To Be A Bass Man

So what’s a bass man anyway? A bass man was a byproduct of the 1950’s and 1960’s; a singer who sang the bass doo wop lines and deep bass lines in those classic songs. We have all heard these gems (well, some of us older ones anyway). When I was in junior high school in Sylmar, California, I became intrigued with the whole bass man notion. At the time I had a girlfriend whose father owned a jukebox supply business and I had free reign to his inventory of oldies. Actually, they were newies at the time. In 1963, I decided I was going to be a bass man; seriously, I thought this would be my life’s work. The songs of the late 1950s and early 1960s had convinced me that I would find success with my newly discovered deep voice.

I spent the years from 1962 to 1965 perfecting the art of the bass man. I sang all the bass parts to all of the records of the day despite the fact that at the time I naturally sang alto in the church choir. The final clincher was the release of Mr. Bass Man by Johnny Cymbal in 1963 (Kapp Records). I was totally convinced this was my ticket to the future. I did the Blue Moon parts perfectly and learned all the classic bass man scats. I felt the longing rhythms calling to me at night as I lay awake late in the night in San Fernando, California during the long march of the early 1960s. It was a divine voice that called: boppa, bop bop; ramalama ding dong. I was confident as I combed my butch-waxed hair back each morning to explore a new day and learn new bass man parts to sing. I was on my way to the top.

In 1964, I showed-up at my brand new high school in Sylmar, California full of anticipation to be the next teenage sensation bound for Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. In 1964, I regularly performed acapella to the amusement of my little band of surfer friends. and even did the street corner scene similar to Dion and the Belmonts sans New York, thank God. The year 1964 was a good one but something changed abruptly. So what happened? Did I grow up overnight, get wise in my new found old age? No, American popular music simply changed dramatically. Before I could get a toehold in the bass man business, there were no more bass men. The prospect of becoming a bass man was overrun by change. The phenomena is called timing. I’ve never been particularly good at timing; it is an illusive skill.

So what does a man do with the talent of singing bass scats for the rest of his life? That’s a very good question indeed. Not being one to give up on an idea, I pursued the bass man notion, not as a money making vocation, but as a hobby of sorts. Actually, it was more like a spiritual hobby. For the last 50 years I have been, you guessed it, a bass man. When I performed publicly in the 1970s, I would always throw an old piece into my act to see if I still had the right stuff; I did. Later, I even incorporated some of the old  bass man formulas into my own music writing. I still do the familiar bass scats for my wife, much to her chagrin. (I’m sorry honey, it’s in the blood.) I amuse myself by keeping perfect time with the old recordings and doing for pure joy what I once was sure was to be my thing. And if I ever find myself at the button in Double Jeopardy, I will surely not miss any answer regarding 1950s and 1960s music, specifically regarding bass men and their contribution to American popular music.

However, I never actually got to be a bass man. A big deal? Yeah, kind of a big deal with me, but one of the many little disappointments in life that I have grown to live with. A big deal with my friends and acquaintances? Absolutely not. But if you are reading this and have any sense of rhythm, you must know where I’m coming from.

For those of you with a good memory and a heart of gold, here’s a link to Johnny Cymbal’s Mr. Bass Man. I would love to hear from anyone who actually remembers this song. Did you want to be a bass man too?

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Lunedi Senza Parole #92

Indovina dove! Guess where!
Foto © Allen E. Rizzi

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The Dodici Hustle

Of the many frustrations that I have encountered living in Italy, the Dodici Hustle is the worst. The what? The Dodici Hustle refers to the way that Italians drop everything they are doing at noon (and usually a bit before) in order to race home for lunch. Here in Italy we have the intervale when everything shuts down for three hours between noon and three PM.

Dodici refers to twelve in Italian and that’s the magic hour when it all unfolds. I have come to understand this phenomena but I don’t really understand its intensity. Let’s start with the shops and stores. Owners start getting very anxious at about a quarter to noon. They pace their floors, looking at their watches. When the magic hour arrives, the lights go off. Often you are politely escorted to the door and told to come back in the afternoon. I’ve even seen transactions halted in midstream to observe this antiquated custom of the noon closure. We have learned to “git ‘er done” well before twelve to avoid this conflict.

Another truly spectacular sight is to go to a bar for a “bianco” (white wine) as the noon hour approaches. When the church bells sound the hour, all of the men chug down what’s left in their glass, pay in a hurry and scuttle out the door in one great mass like cockroaches. They look furtively at their watches as they fear the “little woman” is waiting for them armed with a wooden spoon. Lunch, after all, must be served at exactly noon in this land. I was once asked, “Is it true that Americans can eat lunch at any hour?” Scherzi!

Next and most importantly is the driving that accompanies this madness. People race home at speeds often twice the posted limit. It seems that endangering one’s life is worth getting home in time for lunch. Accidents are common. One such accident took the life of one of my cousins a few years ago. People are simply frantic. All of this is made even the more horrible by the fact that we live in the mountains where all roads are super curvy nightmares to start with. Add in the bicycles and motorcycles whose drivers believe it is safer to travel at noon and you have an obstacle course that is simply crazy.

When we shop, we must descend into the valley about 4 or 5 miles. The return trip is dangerous when it is made anywhere within a half an hour of noon. People pass me in the tunnel, they pass me on blind curves and they even pass me where it is clearly posted not to pass. The result is like riding a rocket bareback without a saddle. When I finally pull into our driveway I notice that I have left indentations in the steering wheel from my frantic grip. The trip itself hardly seems worth it. We shrug it off knowing that we’ll be doing it again soon, hopefully with a Saint Christopher medal in hand.

All of this is not funny in the least. It is a dangerous threat to human life that is practiced daily here. The lack of common sense is completely unintelligible. After 20 years of living in Italy, I have finally found some small hope for improvement. A very few markets and stores have started to adopt continuous hours, setting aside tradition for money. If the rest of this country would follow suit, things would improve. They might even find that they do more business when their doors are open.

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Spring Fly Fishing News

As most of you know, I usually have some great tips for anglers every spring. Usually I have some tidbits about secret fishing spots, new fly patterns or general advice for my fellow fly fishermen. This year I wanted to introduce to all of you an exceptional guide service located here in North Carolina: Hightrout Guides LTD.

Having gotten to know owner Forrest Johnstone personally, I can enthusiastically recommend his services. He is an energetic young man with the talent and patience that are in rare supply in the world of fly fishing guides. I would especially recommend this company for new anglers and women who may have been intimidated in the past by guides at local outfitters. If you are new to the sport or an old pro looking to fish private or public waters in North Carolina and Georgia, give Forrest a call today! Click the link below for full information.

HIGHTROUT GUIDES LTD.

Take it from this former Pacific Northwest salmon and steelhead guide, Hightrout Guides is the place to go for both newcomers to the sport and seasoned pros looking for exceptional waters. You can reach out to Forrest here today: (828) 547-0231 Email: hightroutguides@gmail.com Tell Forrest that Allen sent you!

When you’re off the water, read author Allen E. Rizzi’s collection of fly fishing short stories here: https://www.amazon.com/Blackest-Canyons-Other-Micro-Fishing-ebook/dp/B07R44WP5J/

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Lunedi Senza Parole #91

Indovina dove! Guess where!
Foto © Allen E. Rizzi

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Read my latest novel – Hey, Mister Publisher Available in paperback or e-book. This is one of my best books!

Follow songwriter Al Sapetello as he takes you through the back streets of the 1970’s music business on his way to the top. Where will the road lead him?The 1970’s music industry is explored from the inside out, exposing both the beauty and the ugly underbelly of the business. Presented with authority by veteran songwriter Allen E. Rizzi, Hey, Mister Publisher will give you a new understanding of music and the people who make it.

Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?

It’s a great line from the The Lovin’ Spoonful’s song of the same title. It’s kept me on the straight and narrow for years. Why? Because early on, I learned that you can’t have everything and that you need to constantly make decisions: Smart decisions that benefit your life and don’t destroy it. It seems simple enough yet there are millions of people who just can’t say ….”pick up on one and leave the other behind.” This includes everything from a spouse to a job to a way of living. It can’t all be done in a life time so some real critical thinking has to be employed and decisions have to be made straight away.

Here’s the complete lyrics written by John Sebastian:

Did You Ever Had To Make Up Your Mind?

Did you ever have to make up your mind?
And pick up on one and leave the other behind?
It’s not often easy and not often kind.
Did you ever have to make up your mind?

Did you ever have to finally decide?
And say yes to one and let the other one ride?
There’s so many changes and tears you must hide.
Did you ever have to finally decide?

Sometimes there’s one with big blue eyes, cute as a bunny,
With hair down to here, and plenty of money,
And just when you think she’s that one in the world,
Your heart gets stolen by some mousy little girl,

And then you know you’d better make up your mind.
And pick up on one and leave the other behind.
It’s not often easy and not often kind.
Did you ever have to make up your mind?

Sometimes you really dig a girl the moment you kiss her,
And then you get distracted by her older sister.
When in walks her father and takes you in line,
And says, “Better go on home, son, and make up your mind.”

And then you bet you’d better finally decide.
And say yes to one and let the other one ride.
There’s so many changes and tears you must hide.
Did you ever have to finally decide?

Here’s the original mono recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txTEhgReZUA

Have You Ever Had To Make Up Your Mind? Well, have you?

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Please Help Me Classic Movie Buffs

I have had a photo in my possession for decades that shows my father with four other actors. My father, Gene Rizzi, is in the light colored suit at the top of the photo. On the back of the photo, the three other actors below my father are identified as three brothers, Bill, Joe and Ralph. The man at the bottom of the photo is identified as Barry. They were all actors in the late 1930s and early 1940s. That’s all I knew for some time.

I then posted the photo on Facebook and got immense help from two of my high school classmates, Susan Peran and Judy Davis Gibson. Both contributed to my eventually solving part of the mystery. It turns out that the three gentlemen in the second row were brothers William, Joseph and Ralph Bowman. What was confusing was that Ralph Bowman later had his name changed to John Archer through a radio renaming contest before being signed with RKO Pictures. Ralph (John) was associated with Ben Bard Drama, one of the largest and most respected acting schools in Hollywood, California. This is undoubtedly where my father and he met as my father also attended this school at the same time. Ben Bard Drama is also where my father met his first wife, Eve McVeagh.

If you have any information as to who the man in the bottom of the photo is, I would truly appreciate your input. He only is identified as Barry, although he could be Barry Sullivan.

Thanks,

Allen

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