A Little Derb’ll Do Ya: Haydn’s “Derbyshire Marches”

My Saturday morning ritual involves “sleeping in” until about 8:30 AM, brewing some coffee, and listening to Radio Derb, John Derbyshire’s weekly podcast for VDare.com.  Derb goes back for years—he used to write for National Review, before they kicked him out for writing “The Talk: Nonblack Version” for Taki’s Magazine.

I first found out about him and his controversial essay from NR, back when I was a devout print subscriber, amid the heady days when campus protests were novel enough to be terrifying.  NR ran a little blurb about Williams College cancelling a scheduled talk from Derb, and I’ve been listening to his podcast—an entertaining mix of news, science, political and cultural commentary, and updates on the president of Turkmenistan—ever since.

VDare certainly espouses some views on genetics and race that I don’t personally endorse, but they’re spot-on regarding immigration.  Whether poor assimilation is due to primitive cultures or sub-85 IQs is immaterial; either way, there’s a bound to be friction and a general lowering of civilizational standards if you transport millions of Third World peasants into a First World nation all at once (see also: California).

But that’s not the point of this post.  I’ve been giving politics a rest—the impeachment process is a tedious farce, albeit a threat to our constitutional order (but, let’s face it, we now know that’s been a farce for years, too—the cosmopolitan elites alternatively lean on or ignore constitutionalism, whichever is convenient at the moment)—and instead have been enjoying the wonders of music.

Radio Derb, it should be said, features wonderful music.

Derb opens every show with Haydn’s Two Marches for the Derbyshire Cavalry Regiment in E flat and C, specifically the “Derbyshire March No. 2.”  I’ve downloaded the piano sheet music (to which Derb graciously links), as it’s just simple enough that even I, with my Neanderthalic playing style, can pull it off (I think it would make for a jaunty offertory piece at church, even though it doesn’t possess any obviously sacred connotations).  The fact that the second is in C major helps immensely.

Franz Joseph Hadyn was, like Handel before him, one of those great Germanic composers (Hadyn was Austrian) who took Britain by storm, writing some incredible music for the country—and making buckets of cash while doing so.  He was a contemporary and friend of Mozart, and tutored Beethoven (the great bridge between the Classical and Romantic periods).  The Two Marches for the Derbyshire Cavalry Regiment are fairly simple compositions, but they still maintain that regal, precise, joyous sound of true classical music; that is, the music of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries:  the music of the Enlightenment, before the French Revolution turned it sour.

Even listening to the simple sweetness of the “Derbyshire March No. 2” evokes this sense of an orderly cosmos, and of man grasping to comprehend the wonder of God’s Creation.  That’s not the point of the piece at all—it was a commission by the Sheriff of Derbyshire for the cavalry regiment of the English county—but the precision, the lightness, the gaiety all bespeak the classical style—like the best of Mozart, without the underlying darkness.  It’s all light and joy.

Indeed, amid my Saturday morning ritual, while Derb lets the opening bars of the No. 2 rollick, I’ll often do that foppish laugh that French aristocrats in costume period piece movies do:  the haughty, tittering guffaw of aloofness.  An embarrassing confession, to be sure, but when you spend as much time alone and in your own head as I do, you find ways to entertain yourself.

But I digress.  In researching this little post, I dug up quite a bit about Derb’s defenestration from the respectable commentariat.  What’s interesting is not that the mainstream Right kicked him out, but that, even with all of their virtue-signalling and groveling to the Left in the process, the Left still said, “it’s not enough.”  Overrated stream-of-consciousness racialist Ta-Nehisi Coates, the white liberals’ black man, wrote as much for The Atlantic.  So did Amy Davidson Sorkin.  Both argue that Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, should have fired Derb years ago.

Of course, we’ve all seen this movie before.  Progressives are insatiable.

Nothing like the orderly cosmos of Haydn, Mozart, et. al.  Derb might be in error when it comes to human biology, but he’s far more humane in his tastes, manners, and commentary than screeching Leftists and hand-wringing Conservative, Inc. types.

Who cares?  It’s Christmas.  Let’s listen to some good music.

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