Friday, May 07, 2010

Beethoven and Brahms Meet at High Noon Over Renovation Plans Run Amok-


May 7, 1664: Louis XIV of France inaugurates The Palace of Versailles on the site of a former Royal hunting lodge. Louis had decided several years before to turn Versailles from a simple country village to the seat of the Royal French government, and brought in architect Louis Le Vau, landscape architect André Le Nôtre, and painter-decorator Charles Le Brun to renovate the château. But we all know how that goes- you knock down a wall here, add another room there, and pretty soon your initial budget estimate goes *poof* and you wind up with the largest palace complex in Europe. It's the sort of thing that could happen to any of us.

May 7, 1824: The world premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is performed in Vienna, Austria. Beethoven was deaf by then, but that doesn't seem to have affected his musical abilities. There are many occupations in which it is a liability to go around hearing little voices in your head- composer is not one of them. Modern listeners should be aware that what you hear today is not what Beethoven wrote- conductors and arrangers have spent the last hundred and fifty years tinkering and "improving" Beethoven's work to make it easier to play or sound "better" for modern audiences. You know- the same helpful impulse that compels some people to "improve" a perfectly good French omelet by adding grape jelly.

May 7, 1833: Johannes Brahms, composer and pianist, was born. Brahms is often grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the "Three Bs." "Brahms composed for piano, chamber ensembles, symphony orchestra, and for voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he gave the first performance of many of his own works; he also worked with the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim. Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire. Brahms, an uncompromising perfectionist, destroyed many of his works and left some of them unpublished."

May 7, 1840: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Russian composer, was born. Although many "serious" critics of the mid-20th century dismissed his works as "vulgar and lacking in elevated thought", his defenders point out that the celebration of America's Independence Day just wouldn't be the same without the 1812 Overture (OK, OK, it's a Russian composer's celebration of a French military defeat). And anyway, who the hell could ever make it through the entire Christmas holidaze brouhaha completely sober without having The Nutcracker to fall back on?

May 7, 1901: Gary Cooper was born. No, he wasn't a music composer, but we'll give him a mulligan on that since he was such a kick-ass actor.


"Mobilier Francais Consulat et Empire"
By Jean-Pierre Samoyault.
Published in Paris by Gourcuff Gradenigo in 2009.

A beautifully illustrated study of French Consular and Empire-period furniture, with examples drawn from a number of noted collections. Each period is covered separately, and within each section furniture is grouped by type. There is also a bibliography, and list of relevant exhibitions. French text.



Here's an early Gary Cooper clip I'll bet you haven't seen lately-

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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