Friday, December 28, 2012


Before toasting the new year, I would like to take this opportunity to review some of the highlights of 2012.  In addition to our usual bill of fare - February lectures, Bluegrass concert, etc. - much else happened out here for which we are justifiably proud.  At the top of the list is the completion of the restoration of the Hill House.  Though we still need to put the furnishings back, the project is finished and the house should be open for visitors some time in the new year.  Stabilization of the cow barn has also been completed.  The next stage of that project will be putting on a much-needed roof.  Before we can commence that work, however, we need your $upport.  The barn is certainly one of the most recognizable buildings on the Andalusia complex, and it is vital that we do everything we can to save it.  In addition to these two projects, we built a display kiosk down by the pond  in March through the generosity of Georgia College and Georgia Power Company.  On the literary side of things we hosted a wonderful lecture by William Walsh on May 15th to celebrate the 60th anniversary of O'Connor's novel Wise Blood.  For his talk, Mr. Walsh discussed the making of John Huston's film adaptation of the novel.  Also last spring we welcomed two fiction writers who gave readings from their work: Elizabeth Stuckey-French and Dwight Holing.  One of the most memorable events of the year occurred October 6th when we hosted our first wedding ever at Andalusia.  At sunset on a beautiful fall afternoon, Stephanie Smith and Vince Vaughn tied the knot on the front lawn.  No discussion of the year's highlights would be complete without mentioning the publication of At Home with Flannery O'Connor: An Oral History.  The book, edited by our own Craig Amason and Bruce Gentry, was released in April and we had a book signing here on May 7.  Among those in attendance that day was Joe McTyre, the former photographer for the Atlanta Constitution, who took some of the most memorable photos of Flannery ever snapped.  During the past year we also had some pretty noteworthy visitors including Francis Michael Stiteler, OCSO, Abbot of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, and famed dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp.  On a personal note, the biggest surprise of the year occurred just a few weeks ago when my former college English professor, Alexis Levitin, showed up at the farm.  I hadn't seen Dr. Levitin in nearly 36 years and was absolutely stunned to see this man who had such a great influence on me.  Yes, 2012 was a memorable year indeed.  Thank you to those of you who continue to read this blog and are supportive of our work at Andalusia.  Craig joins me in wishing all of you a Happy New Year.
- Mark

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sounds of the Season

Hardly.  You won't find Andy Williams or Mitch Miller in the list of recordings that follows.  What you will see instead is a collection of records of someone with fairly refined musical tastes.  Problem is it's not necessarily a reflection of Flannery's tastes.  The collection of records in O'Connor's room at Andalusia, that we are so often asked about, was given to her by her friend Thomas Stritch in early 1964.  It thus says more about his musical tastes than hers.  We don't know what records here Flannery listened to or which ones she particularly liked (except "the 4-hand piano Chopin thing; there is a point in it where the peafowls join in..." - see The Habit of Being p. 589).  It's hard to imagine, for example, that O'Connor was particularly enamored of the angst-ridden Mahler.  And yet, in this collection there is a recording of Mahler's fourth symphony.  Also, would the very Catholic O'Connor have resonated with the very Lutheran J.S. Bach?  I'd like to think so, but there's no way of knowing.  It would be fun to think, too, that she loved Soeur Sourire (aka "The Singing Nun") whose folksy Dominique was at the top of the charts in 1963.  Yet I have my doubts since a nun accompanying herself on guitar smacks a little too much of Vatican II for O'Connor's sensibilities.  Nevertheless, it is a toe-tapping number that even someone like Flannery, the self- proclaimed "tin ear," couldn't help but sing along to.  Enjoy! 
- Mark

Flannery’s Albums
Scarlatti “12 Sonatas” Nina Milkina, piano
“Madrigals & Motets” The  Budapest Madrigal Ensemble conducted by Ferenc Szekeres
Stravinsky “Petrouchka” New York Philharmonic conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulos (full ballet)
Beethoven Sonatas (opus 109 in E major and opus 110 in A flat major) Jorg Demus, pianist
Beethoven Symphony No. 9 – London Symphony Orchestra (Josef Krips conducting; Jennifer Vyvyan, Shirley Carter, Rudolph Petrack, and Donald Bell vocal soloists; BBC Chorus
Georg Philipp Telemann “Concerto for Viola and String Orchestra” (Oscar Kromer, violist; Concert Hall String Orchestra, Henry Swoboda, conductor)
Francois Couperin “First Tenebrae Service for the Wednesday of Holy Week; Three Songs; Motet: Audite Omnes” (Hughes Cuenod – tenor, Robert Brink, William Waterhouse – violins, Alfred Zighera – viola de gamba, Daniel Pinkham – harpsichordist and director)
J.S. Bach “Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo” – Johanna Martzy soloist (Sonata No. 1 in G minor and Partita No. 1 in B minor)
Wallingford Riegger “Concerto for Piano and Woodwind Quintet” and Francis Poulenc “Sextet for Piano, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, and Horn” – The New York Woodwind Quintet
Brahms “Variations on a Theme by Haydn” – Wurttembert State Orchestra, Ferdinand Leitner, conductor; Franck “Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra” – Geza Anda, piano; Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, Eduard van Beinum, conductor
Franz Schubert “Quintet in A for piano, violin, viola, cello and double bass” op. 114 – Menahem Pressler (piano), Philip Sklar (double bass), and members of the Guilet String Quartet
Mozart “Sinfonia Concertante in e-flat” and Purcell “Dido and Aeneas Suite” – Warwick Symphony Orchestra
Bach “Brandenburg Concertos” – Karl Munchinger (conductor), Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra
Handel “The Water Music Suite” and Mozart “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” “Three German Dances,” “Ave, Verum Corpus” – Herbert Von Karajan (conductor), The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, The Philharmonia Orchestra
Mahler “Symphony No. 4 in G major” – The Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam under the direction of Eduard Van Beinum. Vocal Soloist: Margaret Ritchie (soprano)
Wagner “Tristan und Isolde” (Prelude and Love-Death); “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg” (Prelude); “Tannhauser” (Overture): George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra
Mozart “Sonata in C Major” (K. 279) and “Sonata in F Major” (K. 280) – Florencia Raitzin, piano
Handel “Concerto Grosso, op. 6, No. 1; Oboe Concerto in G Minor; Cantata Cuopra Tal Vola Il Cielo; Oboe Concerto in B Flat Major; Sonata in F Major, Op. 1, No. 11; Duo in F Major for Two Recorders”  - The Telemann Society Orchestra, Richard Schulze (conductor)
Grieg “Peer Gynt Suites No. 1 (op. 46) and No. 2 (op. 55) – the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Basil Cameron
Beethoven “Missa Solemnis” – Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under the direction of Otto Klemperer (vocal soloists: Ilona Steingruber, Else Schuerhoff, Ernst Majkut, Otto Wiener
Scarlatti (Sinfonia No. 5 in D minor & Concerto No. 3 in F major),  Cimarosa (Concerto for 2 Flutes and Orchestra), Paisiello (Overture to “La Scuffiava”) – Scarlatti Orchestra conducted by Franco Caracciolo
Chopin “24 Etudes” (op. 10 and op. 25) – Paul Badura-Skoda, piano
Schubert “Trio No. 1 in B flat” (op. 99) – The Albeneri Trio
Gregorian Chants (vol. 1) – Choeur de Moine Trappistes
Beethoven “Sonata no. 29 in B flat major” (op. 106) – Friedrich Gulda, piano
Beethoven “Sonata in C sharp minor” (op. 27, no. 2), “Sonata in A flat” (op. 110) – Friedrich Gulda – piano
Rimsky-Korsakov “Scheherazade” – The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy
Chopin (various) and Beethoven “Sonata no. 15 in D major” – Gyorgy Sandor, piano
J.S. Bach “Fantasia in A minor, Toccata in D minor, Chaconne in D minor” – Reine Gianoli, piano
Haydn, Leclair, Pergolesi  “Flute Concerti” – Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra, Camillo Wanausek (flute), Paul Angerer (harpsichord)
Mozart “Mass in C Minor” (K. 427) – Pro Musica Symphony conducted by Ferdinand Grossmann; vocal soloists: Wilma Lipp, Christa Ludwig, Murray Dickie, Walter Berry.
J.S. Bach “The Clavieruebung – part 1 (Partita in B flat major, Partita in C minor) Rosalyn Tureck, piano.
J.S. Bach “Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, Fantasia in C minor, Partita No. 7 in B minor – Gyorgy Sandor, piano
Mozart “Piano Music for 4 Hands – vol. 1” Ingrid Haebler, Ludwig Hoffmann, piano
Strauss “Don Juan/ Death and Transfiguration” – The Philadelphia Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy conducting.
J.C. Bach “Three Sonatas for Pianoforte – Sonata No. 5 in E major, Sonata No. 6 in C minor, Sonata No. 6 in B flat major” – Margaret Tolson, pianoforte
Soeur Sourire “The Singing Nun”

Friday, December 14, 2012


At the recommendation of my friend, James Behrens, I started reading Barbara Kingsolver's novel, The Bean Trees last week.  Though I'm only halfway through the book, I am already struck by its literary kinship to Flannery O'Connor.  To cite but one example, the opening of Kingsolver's novel - one of the most memorable in modern fiction - could have easily been written by O'Connor.  Since I would be doing the author a disservice to paraphrase, I shall quote it in its entirety:
I have been afraid of putting air in a tire ever since I saw a tractor tire blow up and throw Newt Hardbine's father over the top of the Standard Oil sign.  I'm not lying.  He got stuck up there.  About nineteen people congregated during the time it took for Norman Strick to walk up to the Courthouse and blow the whistle for the volunteer fire department.  They eventually did come with the ladder and haul him down, and he wasn't dead but lost his hearing and in many other ways was never the same afterward.  They said he overfilled the tire.
As you can tell from these few lines, Kingsolver shares O'Connor's sense of the grotesque salted with dry humor.  There are other O'Connor touches I've picked up - character names (e.g. Turtle), place names (e.g. "Jesus is Lord Used Tires"), and even elements of violence.  While I don't know how much of an influence Flannery had on Kingsolver (heck, I don't even know if she's read her - though I suspect she has - or even likes her), there are some striking similarities between the two authors.  And yet Barbara Kingsolver is just as fresh and original in her time as Flannery was in hers. What's more...she is a joy to read.
- Mark

Friday, December 7, 2012

Flannery's Spiritual Home

Occasionally our visitors are surprised to learn that there are actually Catholics in Milledgeville.  We tell them that indeed there are and, while still very much a religious minority, their presence can be traced to the first part of the nineteenth century.  Indeed, Flannery O'Connor's great-grandfather Hugh Donnelly Treanor, who emigrated from Ireland in 1824 and became a prosperous grist mill operator, was one of the founding members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church.  In fact, as O'Connor later reported, "Mass was first said here in my great-grandfather's hotel room, later in his home on the piano." (The Habit of Being, p. 520).  After Treanor died, his widow donated the land on which Sacred Heart Catholic Church now stands.  It is said that when the hotel where that first mass was celebrated was demolished in 1874, the bricks were used to build the church.  Sacred Heart was, of course, a very important place for Flannery.  Not only were her parents married and buried out of the church, but it was the locus of her daily communion.  Every morning following coffee, Flannery and her mother would get in the car and drive down to the corner of Jefferson and Hancock for the 7:00 mass.  According to one parishioner, "Flannery sat in the fifth pew on the right side." (Gooch, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor, p. 223).  Even on Sundays she and her mother liked to go to the first mass of the day.  She once quipped, "I like to go to early mass so I won't have to dress up - combining the 7th Deadly Sin with the Sunday obligation."  These days the first mass is celebrated a bit later - 9:00 a.m.  Whether you are Catholic or not, the good people of Sacred Heart are always happy to welcome visitors and will gladly show you Flannery's spiritual home.
- Mark