Composers, Music, Robert Oppenheimer, Polaroid, Neoliberalism

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Do You Make More Money Than Mozart?

Stephen Pritchard | Adzuna | 27th May 2016

Adjusting for inflation, thalers, ducats, stipends, sinecures etc — probably yes you do, if these low-sounding figures are correct. JS Bach earned a salary equivalent to £28,000 in today’s terms, plus room and board, as a schoolmaster in Leipzig. Scott Joplin earned £10,959 in the year of Maple Street Rag. In his five years as musical director at Powick Country lunatic asylum Edward Elgar earned £3,362 annually, topped up with occasional freelance payments for dance arrangements (710 words)

All The Songs Are Now Yours

Dan Chiasson | New York Review of Books | 29th May 2016

Streaming changes fundamentally our use of music. “Everything I heard before I was 12 formed a musical preconscious that was only occasionally accessible, in flashes and glimpses, before streaming came along. [Now] it is as though a box of photographs was discovered of my childhood. Not just the events these photographs capture, but the entire ambient world of the past. All of it comes back when you rediscover the music that was on when you were a child” (2,080 words)


Alan Jacobs | Text Patterns | 27th May 2016

Robert Oppenheimer was “an enormously charming man” capable of “really horrible things”. In his youth he placed a poisoned apple on the desk of his university tutor and attempted to strangle his best friend. His biographer Ray Monk attributes these actions to “temporary insanity”. But Oppenheimer never lost his enthusiasm for making enemies. When Freeman Dyson was organising a festchrift he “found it difficult to round up prominent physicists willing to speak on Oppenheimer’s behalf” (1,460 words)

The Afterlife Of Polaroid

Frances Richard | The Nation | 27th May 2016

Edwin Land was a genius at building his brand as well as his product. He made the bridge between Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs. Polaroid had affect. You would never talk of “a shoebox full of Kodaks”. The company failed for want of execution, not of insight. It saw digital coming and applied for patents in 1980. But Polaroid culture was so perfectionist, and so accustomed to dominance, that the firm didn’t get a digital camera to market until 1996 — by which time it had 40 competitors (2,800 words)

Neoliberalism: Oversold?

Jonathan D. Ostry et al | Finance And Development | 29th May 2016

The IMF recants. The question-mark is for show. “Austerity policies not only generate substantial welfare costs due to supply-side channels, they also hurt demand — and thus worsen employment and unemployment … Some capital flows, such as foreign direct investment, do appear to confer the benefits claimed. But for others, particularly short-term capital flows, the benefits to growth are difficult to reap, whereas the risks, in terms of greater volatility and increased risk of crisis, loom large” (2,430 words)

Video of the day: Mahler Symphony No. 6

What to expect:

The silent first minute shows how the music which follows was constructed note by note from digital libraries (5’19”)

Thought for the day

A stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything
Friedrich Nietzsche

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