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Another Operatic Fantasy
Since opera fantasies by Thalberg, Liszt, Tausig and their various acolytes are all the rage currently, I wondered if anyone had yet managed to source a PDF of a score that was thought lost for most of the last 150 years. Although the authorship was regarded as doubtful by many when the work was discovered in an antiquarian bookshop in Port de Clignancourt in 1992, it is now generally attributed to Alkan:
Fantaisie sur motives de l'opera “Le Festin des Salops ou Le Roi s'Abuse” par Delibes, op posth.
Quite when Alkan penned this work is unclear at present, although recent attempts at analysing the acid content and the Carbon14/Carbon16 ratio in the paper point to a date in mid March 1855 as being the date for the source materials used in creating this contentious work, thus placing the composition sometime shortly after this date. It is known from Alkan's memoirs that he was in the habit of purchasing freshly made manuscript for the final copies of each composition, and to this end his Aunt Hermione was often sent out to pick up fresh manuscript along with the daily supplies of bread, milk and sausage on which the Alkan household subsisted in their meagre garret existence. So the work may well date from very early in April 1855, making it exactly 150 years old today.
Quite what happened to the manuscript is not entirely clear, although an analysis of the papers has revealed traces of opium and cat hair. The manuscript itself was found in an old wicker basket retrieved from a Parisian attic along with much other furniture of the Napoleon III period, so it is surmised that Alkan had for some reason quickly attempted to conceal his 'stash' of illegal substances wrapping them in the manuscript of the Fantaisie and stuffing it at the bottom of his Aunt Hermione’s knitting basket, where it presumably lay forgotten for far too many years.
The history of the Delibes opera, the score of which is now sadly lost, is itself somewhat obscure. The text of the opera is based by a hand unknown on alternative scenarios extracted 'Scripti Marginalibus' as it were from Victor Hugo's more famous conflation of Seventeenth Century manners, fashions and vagaries. The first performance was documented as having been held in the provincial town of Nancy as early as 1851, but after a brief spell in which one of the more simple but memorable arias achieved notoriety by being adopted by the mob at the barricades during the ‘opium siege’ of the prison at Les Invalides in 1853, the work sank to an unwarranted obscurity.
Apparently the key moment in the opera focuses on a duet between the King of the title and a black cat, which had to be trained to miaow on cue in order for the duet to make its due effect - achieved apparently by the conductor tugging a cord attached to the cat’s tail! Legend has it that the cat in fact belonged to Alkan’s Aunt Hermione who was at that time resident in provincial Nancy and employed as the stage-doorkeeper at the local Alhambra Theatre, and so it is assumed that Hermione acquainted her nephew with the opera when she became his housekeeper early in 1855. Legend also has it that the black cat was in the habit of sleeping in Hermione’s wicker knitting basket.
As a coda to this tale, it is known that Alkan died following a fall from a step-ladder in his library. Those with fanciful religious inclinations would have it that Alkan was reaching for his copy of the Talmud. But I prefer to believe he was retrieving his miscreant black cat who had for some reason become unaccountably lodged on the top bookshelf, next to Alkan’s early copy of the Bach Gesamtausgabe.
Alkan's extravagant Fantaisie would enrich our lives enormously should anyone be able to furnish a copy!
PS: Aunt Hermione's black cat was called, not unsurprisingly, 'Mefistiaow'!
This fictive opera had a nonsense plot and used Bruckner's cantata "Helgoland" (1893). I'm in doubt if this is one of Bruckner's best pieces even it's one of his last complete(d) works, near to his great 9th symphony: Many male voices roaring "Helgoland", again and again, the rest of the text (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helgoland_(Bruckner)) is not really worth mentioning.
The title "Der Glöckner von Helgoland" has put in our (German) mind the story of Quasimodo, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" - in German "Der Glöckner von Notre Dame". Famous movies, among others: "Esmeralda" (1922). 1939 by William Dieterle (with Charles Laughton & Maureen O’Hara), 1956 by Jean Delannoy (with Anthony Quinn & Gina Lollobrigida).
"Ringer" and "Hunchback" - in English no meaningful connection.
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Perhaps it would be interesting if the non-english speakers contributed to this thread with phrases from their own lands that would mean nothing to us English speakers and help a bit in understanding each others backgrounds. It is never a bad thing to know more of each others cultural differences and things which make each country "tick".
Please give us some examples.
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The announcement spoke about an organ recital that should have been done in the church of S.Alessandro.
Many people went to the church but there were no signs of the recitals. When some music lovers read the announcement and understand what happened there was a big scandal and even the Bishop of the town had to protest against the reporters of the newspaper, who didn't realize that the announcement was a joke made by someone who was very well aware of musical terminology.
In the following text there are many details that make fun of classical music lovers.
Apart from trivial anagrams (the name of the organist Erdam is the anagram of the italian word for 'shit'), there were many other jokes e.g.
Bragenz instead of Bregenz, but Braghe in italian is a popular word for 'briefs'
The maestro Erdam is quoted as and expert of the organ works of Respighi, Wagner and Balakirev
'Bum' is quoted as a famous discographic publisher
But the masterwork was the choice of the titles for the program :
BMW instead of BWV
the composer W.C.Neth , which is the name of a well known detersive
the false name of Liszt "Weinen Klagen", again with coarse references
the other name of Bach's Prelude and so on as you can see...
the curious fact is that jokes about classical music in Italy have always some references to german composers and german names
here is the complete text published
Stasera venerdì 13 giugno alle ore 21, nel quadro della settimana di celebrazione del centenario del Beato Palazzolo, presso la chiesa di S. Alessandro in Colonna si terrà un concerto dell'organista tedesco Kurt Erdam.
Il maestro Erdam è uno di più noti concertisti d'organo d'Europa e per la prima volta suona nella nostra citta; nato a Bragenz, in Germania, nel 1923, ha studiato organo prima sotto la guida del padre e quindi con U. Krapp a Berlino, ove ha seguito i corsi di composizione di N. Rahtu, laureandosi contemporaneamente all'Università di Stoccarda presso la quale è oggi docente del suo strumento.
Ha suonato come solista in tutte le più importanti città d'Europa e d'America proponendo sempre programmi assai vari ed eseguendo spesso in prima assoluta (ed è il caso di questa sera) brani da lui stesso riscoperti nell'ambito della sua intensa attività musicologica.
Kurt Erdam ha al suo attivo, inoltre, l'incisione dell'opera omnia organistica di Respighi, Wagner e Balakirev per varie case discografiche (Decca, Bum, Cbs, ecc.).
Il programma prevede: J.S. Bach: Passacaglia in do minore Bmw 524; W.C. Neth: Partite diverse sopra la bergamasca detta «Olmanàra»; F. Liszt: «Water kagen zurgen zagen» in organo pleno; J.S. Bach: Preludio al corale «Du Kall Grosse komm du was, mein Herr» Bmw 712; O. Réjon: Canzona VI, «Si t'encoulez, ay lasso»; J. Dubignou: Aria del Granduca; F. Couperin: Offertoire; L. van Fusk: Variazioni su una melodia originale ungherese op. 42; O. Messiaen: «Le grands oiseaux», da «Collection d'oiseaux».
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This is quite well known amongst Chinese Kung Fu masters who play the piano - they direct their qi to the tips of their fingers which as a result get quite hot compared to the rest of the hand. This can be seen quite clearly in appropriate infra-red photographs.davida march wrote: "the recording engineer sold his garden to buy the Steinway D with ivory keys (last made in 1983) which give better traction when the pianist's fingers get hot."
I have been told that you cannot sell garden gnomes - they mate with you for life. Even if they are taken away, they always come back.davida march wrote:'sold his garden'??? complete with gnomes?