Do you know Lalo? Of course you do, you have met him in a post two weeks ago! Edouard Lalo composed a piece called “Symphonie Espagnole” (Spanish Symphony) which inspired Pyotr Tchaikovsky to write his Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35. “Do you know the “Symphonie Espagnole” of the French composer Lalo?”, Tchaikovsky asks in a letter his patron Nadezhda von Meck in March 1878. “I liked this work very much. A lot of freshness, spiking rhythms, beautiful melodies with remarkable harmonies.” All this can be said about Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto.
When I was very young, one of my favourite books was a youth novel written by Enid Blyton: The Sea of Adventures. Four children and a British intelligence officer chase weapon smugglers somewhere in Northern Scotland. The Hebrides, the Orkneys. Enid Blyton’s description of the landscape – an archipelago full of sea birds far away from the civilized world – captured my fantasy. Many times I would dream about those islands, wishing to see them for myself, imagining to explore them like Jack, Philipp, Dina, Lucy did, accompanied by the parrot Kiki and their grown-up friend Bill. Endless days of leisure and adventure in the middle of a wonderful natural scenery.
It took a minute until I understood: R. Sch. Hommage à R. Sch. Robert Schumann. It was late at night, I was tired and my last intellectual effort of the day dealt with the 10th anniversary of the Japanese music festival Viola Space in 2002. One of the pieces performed there was György “Hommage à R. Sch.”, composed in 1990 for clarinet, viola and piano, Op.15/d. Schumann was an avid reader of Romantic books, like those written by the German novelists Jean Paul and E. T. A. Richter. Kurtag, a contemporary Hungarian composer, wrote this piece as a reverence to Schumann, the fictive persons Eusebius, Florestan and Master Raro, two of them being used by Schumann as pen names, and the Kapellmeister Kreisler that gave Schumann’s “Kreisleriana” its name.
The other day I had a crazy thought: What if Felix Mendelssohn would by some strange supernatural phenomenon be catapulted into San Francisco and more precisely into the year 1959? Let’s say it is October, Felix might walk into one of these clubs, like the The Jazz Workshop, and stumble over the Cannonball Adderley Quintet recording “This here”. He would certainly laugh out loud hearing Adderley assuring the audience that the song will not be something like a Bach chorale, but rather has its origin in soul style church music.