Music Playing on the Audience’s Emotions

Enjoy the evening! © Charles Thibo

I can say with a fairly high degree of confidence that he was a first class public relations manager and a very dynamic event organizer. He had excellent connections among Europe’s ruling class and spend a lot of time with networking, location scouting and analyzing the latest trends. “You must ensure not only that the Elector of Mainz hears you but that you receive some money by way of presents and, if all possible, you should also give a concert in town as there are a lot of aristocrats there, as well as the whole government…”, Leopold Mozart writes on 22 September 1777 to his son Wolfgang. The father’s talent as an impresario is well-known through his difficult relation with his son, but how about the man’s skills as a composer?

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A Partly Veiled, Sensual Smile Set to Music

The Flames of Paradise. © Charles Thibo

Gabriel Fauré’s most extreme work – that’s how Jean-Michel Nectoux describes the composer’s song cycle “Chanson d’Eve” (Eve’s Song). On 20 Avril 1910, to inaugurate the Société Musicale Indépendante (SMI) in Paris, Fauré and the singer Jeanne Raunay presented this work for the first time. Fauré set to music ten poems written by the Belgian poet Charles van Lerberghe. The mostly free-verse poems show Eve as a primal poet symbolizing universal values through a set of allegorical images in which Eve appears. Fauré and Van Lerberghe were sensual men longing for the absolute, writes Nectoux. Both explored the themes of transience and beauty through vague, indistinct images of the natural world. Fauré pushes his research in the field of melodies very far in this work and grants himself a lot of liberty to “escape from the tyranny of the words”, as Nectoux remarks.

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The Light of Another Morning?

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A peculiar mood. © Charles Thibo

“They are very imaginative, but difficult to grasp, they transport a very peculiar mood”, Clara Schumann noted in her diary. The composer himself, Robert Schumann, explained in a letter to his publisher: These are pieces of music narrating the sensations when the morning [twilight] is approaching and growing more intensely, conceived as a feeling rather than as an image.” The letter was dated 24 February 1854. Three days before Schumann tried to commit suicide. Which morning did Schumann think about?

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Of Treacherous Men and Strong Women

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From my garden with love. © Charles Thibo

Is there any Italian opera libretto without a complicated plot? A straightforward love story, a cloak-and-dagger story, a simple lost bride drama – is that asking too much? Apparently. I love Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera “La finta giardiniera” (The Disguised Gardener, KV 196), but when I had a look at the libretto – oh boy! Intertwined romantic liaisons, disguises, wedding plans – I always find life at Italian courts rather confusing. Anyway, the less known opera that Mozart wrote in 1774 for the carnival in Munich is a worthwhile experience. The music is just lovely and foreshadows both Mozart’s dramatic genius and his late operas “Le nozze di Figaro” and “Don Giovanni”.

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