Wednesday, December 21, 2005

MUSIC STREETSCAPES: Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge

BESIDES JOHN PHILLIP SOUSA and other patriotic songs, I can't think of a piece of music that can be inextricably tied to Washington, D.C. -- a piece that when you're walking down one of the capital's monumental avenues or standing in a grand public space, there's added emotion and civic texture that is paired perfectly with the streetscape and architecture.

New York, on the other hand, has many such pieces of music. George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," which masterfully provides the background music to the opening of Woody Allen's "Manhattan" is probably the best example.

Like many other New Yorkers stranded without the city's subways, Doug Gordon, walked over the Brooklyn Bridge today to get to work. And while crossing the East River, had "Rhapsody in Blue" playing on his iPod:
As I did the walk, somehow my eyes were directed by the music to see the things that fit each movement of the song. The traffic crawling across the bridge below the walkway. My first glimpse of the Empire State Building, which rises as if at the top of a hill in midtown. A straight on view of the mathematically-symetrical cables and brick towers of the bridge itself. I felt like I was living the opening scene of Woody Allen's Manhattan, only in vibrant color and surrounded by a cast of thousands.
Nothing in Washington, I lament, could come close.

AS FOR SIMILAR D.C. MOMENTS, on my last day of work at Roll Call, I borrowed my sister's car to drive my office belongings home in July. I popped in Khachaturian's "Spartacus" into the CD player and drove northwest on Pennsylvania Avenue, leaving Capitol Hill behind in the rear-view mirror. If I remember the piece correctly, it was Adagio of Aegina and Harmodius that came on, giving America's Main Street a beautiful background score.

I wish there were just something for D.C. that would be more obvious. Perhaps something from Dvorak's "New World" Symphony?

>> "Rhapsody in Transit Strike Blues" [Planet Gordon]

Image from borya's Flickr photostream


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