Composing against all odds

nmzuijdnjk © Charles Thibo
Lalo’s Trio No. 3 – autumn music. © Charles Thibo

Past and present: This composer had the bad luck to play always the second fiddle. Paris choose to ignore him during his lifetime, the 19th century, and glorify Hector Berlioz, Camille de Saint-Saëns, Frédéric Chopin and Maurice Ravel. Today, you will find him mostly as an add-on to a recording of a more famous composer like Felix Mendelssohn. Which isn’t fair. Time to set the record straight then. A piece that you may come to consider as reflecting the composer’s struggle for recognition at the same time as his dexterity at the violin: The Piano Trio No. 3 in A minor, Op. 26, composed by Edouard Lalo.

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The cursed saltarello or why we should be foolish

Carnival masks in Rome. © Charles Thibo
Carnival masks in Rome. © Charles Thibo

The bigot is powerless against the fool. The fool can speak freely since he has neither wealth nor reputation to lose. I can understand that you are frustrated or even frightened by the idea that the world’s only superpower might turn into a rogue state. Let’s not be frightened! Let’s be foolish! Let’s laugh into the face of the egocentric millionaire, the spoiled son of a rich daddy, the real estate agent turned into expert on immigration and macro-economics. He will soon find out that he is much less relevant than he and his supporters believe. And it will drive him mad!

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In the company of pilgrims and bandits

Italian impressions from Luxembourg. © Charles Thibo
Italian impressions from Luxembourg. © Charles Thibo

In February this year, I wrote about Liszt’s “Années de pélerinage” and how the titles of the different pieces partly derive from Lord Byron’s novel “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage”. Well, Lord Byron has inspired more than one Romantic composer. That novel impressed the French composer Hector Berlioz enough to write in 1834 the symphony “Harold en Italie”, Op. 16.

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Walking around with Rossini in the ear

Rossini's operas are a firework of energy and vitality. ©Charles Thibo
Rossini’s operas are a firework of energy and vitality. ©Charles Thibo

Decades ago, around 1985, I possessed a thing called “walkman”. It was the must-have gadget at the time: a small cassette player with earphones. Actually the first wearable device to listen to music. I was so proud of my white Sony WM-22 – later I had a black DD II model, the Rolls-Royce edition in a metal housing. And I listened to Rossini all the time.

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