“Fanny, as I know her, neither has the wish nor the vocation to be known as the composer [of her works]. She is a good woman busy with housekeeping and doesn’t think about the audience or the world of music or music as such, unless she is done with that first job.” The author of these lines was no lesser genius than the German composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. In a letter he wrote in 1835 to his mother, he adamantly refused to support his sister pursuing a professional career as a pianist and a composer.
I will start with a confession: I am in love with the German violinist Julia Fischer. Be reassured, it is a strictly platonic thing, but nevertheless: I am full of admiration for her talent, amazed about her musical career, captivated by her words whenever she gives interviews and I am certainly not the only man on earth struck by her natural beauty. This said, I had the chance to hear a brilliant performance by Mrs. Fischer in Zurich (Switzerland) a few months ago and my memories focus on that joy she radiated when she played. And joy is today’s keyword!
If Pyotr Tchaikovsky is my all time favourite composer, Claude Monet is my all time favourite painter. He and others of his time from the school of the “Impressionists”, who tried to render in their paintings the immediate and ephemerous effects of light: shadows, reflections by the sun, flickering of waves, distortion by fog etc. While other painters had a political or religious message or tried to express an artistic ideal (romanticism for example), Monet and his friends painted nature as they saw it and when they saw it, that is, outdoor and on the spot, a recurrent subject being the sea.
Pigalle. During the Roaring Twenties, this quarter of Paris was setting the heartbeat of the city. Champagne, music, go-go girls, dancing… Dada dadadadadadaah dadadadadadaah dadadadadaah – you’re certainly familiar with that tune: the French Can-Can.