Piazza San Marco, Venezia

Proust and Schubert, Captive

Proust’s The Fugitive has taken me captive. Though I am nearing its end, because of the nature of its style, Proust requires a slow and not always continuous reading. Towards its conclusion it gathers an extraordinary density to and within itself and, furthermore, an extraordinary disposition to the refulgence of mortal change, the observations liberated therein…

Francesco Hayez: Der siebente Kreuzzug gegen Jerusalem (1838-1850)

Giuseppe Verdi – I Lombardi (1843)

I Lombardi, Verdi’s fourth opera, is set during the First Crusade. The librettist is Temistocle Solera. The libretto is based upon Tomasso Grossi’s verse epic in 15 cantos. Solera was also the librettist for Oberto (1839), Nabucco (1842), Giovanna d’Arco (1845), and Attila (1846). He was an active anti-Austrian resister, and was once incarcerated for…

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, where Gounod's opera Mireille is set

Gounod and Mistral – Mireille

The video below is Vincent’s aria in the second scene of the fifth and final act of Charles Gounod’s 1864 opera Mireille, written the year before his remarkable Faust, based on the first part of Goethe’s play. Mireille contains fascinating music. The libretto is based on Frédéric Mistral’s long lyric poem Mirèio. Mistral was the 1904…

Marcel Proust

Exhaustion and Intoxication

“… while pretending not to have heard anything, and preserving in her fine eyes, ringed with dark shadows by the habit of listening to Debussy more than they would have been by that of sniffing cocaine, the exhausted look induced by musical intoxication alone, would revolve nevertheless behind her splendid brow, bulging with all those…

From the first page of the MS of Mendelssohn's violin concerto.

Felix Mendelssohn, Violin Concerto, Op. 64 (1844)

Felix Mendelssohn’s last major orchestral work, the violin concerto, in that exceptional key of E minor, is one of the foremost of the genre, and incorporated several alterations to the violin concerto form, in particular the telescoping of the usual two expositions, one for orchestra, a second for the soloist, through the introduction of the…

Beethoven, manuscript of the Arietta, Op. 111

Beethoven – Piano Sonata 32 in c, Op. 111 (1822)

Beethoven never repeats himself, insists András Schiff. And adds that this sonata is “one of the wonders of mankind.” It moves, and moves one, in a kind of exaltation, to borrow the word from Anton Kuerti. American musicologist Richard Taruskin, in his massive but marvellous Music in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (2010), gives an extensive…