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Don't die on third

By Michael Moriarty
web posted April 11, 2011

I'm on the finishing touches of my First Concerto for Orchestra. This first effort at celebrating an almost full-sized, modern orchestra has proven to be a Prelude to King Lear. The last movement, Allegro Furioso, inevitably led me into setting my favorite of Shakespeare's tragedies into music. The final version of this challenge is still quite a long way off.

Its Prelude, my First Concerto For Orchestra, however, should be presentable by the Fall of this year.

I will never perform Lear, being too old to completely meet the challenge. Lear is for a young man who's strong enough to carry the dead body of Cordelia on in the last scene of the play.

My plan for the Second Concerto For Orchestra, King Lear, is not an oratorio of any kind, no words uttered during its entire and as-yet-to-be-determined length.

A risk?

Of course, that is all I take for major, spiritual nourishment these days.

Ordinarily my thoughts about music are in the blog Big Hollywood. However, for as many rejections as I have received from the Brietbart Publications, I am certain that my heartfelt efforts do not deserve such questionable rewards.

I have just written for a new blog, the Chicago Daily Observer, thanks to my mischievous friend, Pat Hickey and his own, endless inspirations out of the South Side of Chicago. A neighborhood my grandfather, George Moriarty, grew up in.

That the worst President who ever entered the White House, Barack Hussein Obama, calls Chicago his "home town" … well … I don't hold that against the Toddlin' Land of Perpetual Stakeouts, nor the fact that the President's alter ego, Rahm Immanuel, is now Mayor of that Notorious Setting for the Communist playwright, Bertolt Brecht.

Chicago is, indeed, where what is happening in the White House was undoubtedly and indelibly rehearsed.

My initial title for this present editorial had been Beethoven, King Lear and Norman Mailer.

However, I realize the substance of this essay will be an update on the new developments in my life at the beginning of my 71st year.

Now, as I recall my grandfather's lifetime batting average of .251, I realize how alike we are. My batting average as an actor was a lifetime 251. Never reached the Academy Awards.

However, my grandfather was one of, if not the greatest stealer of home base, even in the day and age of the greatest of that sport's thievery, his fellow teammate, Ty Cobb.

A legendary sports essay entitled, Don't Die on Third, was a tribute to the ability of Big George, as we called him – my father was obviously Little George, weighing in at around 250 pounds – a verbal honorarium to my grandfather's genius at stealing home more times in one season than anyone else.

Ending my 70th year, following heart failure just over four years ago, I stand on third base determined to help "steal" the Presidency out from under the nose of not only the entire Democratic Party but do so while the Mayor of Chicago watches and the RINO's of the Progressive Republican Party stare in horror!

And I can blame Rahm Emanuel for this dream!!

"Never let the spiritual crisis of America under Barack Obama go unrecorded. In actual  fact, never let this crisis go to waste!"

On this, the third day of my birthday week, it is Don't Die In Your 70's!

Sitting on my computer desk are pages for my Concerto For Orchestra, In Memoriam Sidney Kaufman.

Sidney was the best friend of my symphonic music in New York. He had, for his whole life, played violin with almost all the orchestras that visited or played regularly in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I met him through the auspices of a headwaiter at the Russian Tea Room. We instantly became friends and soon he was copying by hand my first and still most popular creation so far: Symphony For String Orchestra.

It is astounding the level of expertise within musicians who have been able to earn a lifetime's living in the greatest, fastest and toughest city in the world: New York. I consider Sidney Kaufman their patron saint.

Sidney copied out the parts for a few more of my creations for performance, while at the same time, contracting the musicians for both my personal recordings and the soundtrack I wrote for a short film that never went anywhere. Can't even recall the title.

I have indeed outlived him and therefore wish to immortalize the man in any way I can.


Along my restless passage through the rocky fields of the American acting profession, I owe a few people, Sidney in particular, for resurrecting the joys of my first love which has always been music.

Others helping along the way have included the violin virtuoso, Nina Beilina, and the composers Dominic Argento, Lee Hoiby and Leonard Bernstein.

The last you all know, of course. My one encounter with Maestro Bernstein was actually superseded by a note he sent my agent at the time, Robby Lantz, after listening to a recording of my Symphony For String Orchestra.

"Impressive, albeit academic".

That was all I needed to hear from an indisputably prolific Professor of Music such as Leonard Bernstein. I considered his compliment the equivalent of a minor degree in composing.

The truth of my schooling in music?

My father's vast classical and jazz record collection.

While on all fours I would bask in the oceanic bliss of Rachmaninoff's piano concertos and look up to see my father shaving and conducting, conducting and shaving. The literal heaven of that existence for the first five years of my life left me with two certainties: life was made for ecstasy and no matter how diabolical the world might become, I would create similar samples of heaven on earth.

Little did I know that my experiences with life would inspire a more bellicose attitude toward the 20th and 21st centuries in particular. The fifth movement I was staring at just now is not described as Allegro Furioso for nothing. Beyond pure catharsis, the sounds and orchestration I began to find in it have me quite prepared for my coming adventures with King Lear and the internecine battles growing within my First Symphony, In Memoriam Bela Bartok.

As for my seemingly endless verbosity?

These words of the Nobel Prizewinner Eli Wiesel, might very well be fulfilled: "Michael, you will be more well-known as a writer than as an actor."

That came after his hearing a mere reading of my film script Hitler Meets Christ. And, I suspect, glimpsing some of the justifiable rage beneath it.


In my 70th year?

I realize how Ecstasy's inspirational partner is Christ's agony on the Cross. Johann Sebastian Bach certainly lived that love affair.

This spiritual faith of mine, however, ended most of my connections to New York almost entirely. Manhattan and the American performing arts are decidedly secular boroughs.

Poignant indeed are the very Catholic connections which my God seems to have ordained for me in these later years of my life.

I still live in Canada and, perhaps, always will. A return to the States is dependent upon a miracle I only see possible with a Sarah Palin and Allen West victory in the coming Presidential Race of 2012. Even then, my attachments to British Columbia are now deeper than anything fostered by my birthplace, Detroit, Michigan.

As Lily Tomlin once offered, "I left Detroit when I found out where I was".

I might add, "I left America when I found out she was headed for Detroit." ESR

Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at rainbowfamily2008@yahoo.com.

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