A rabble

I was going to put some of my better photos (my photos come in two sorts – terrible and slightly less terrible) of Essex on this blog, but Paul has sent me some more butterflies – did you know that one of the collective nouns for butterflies was a rabble? I didn’t  – and John [Callister], returned from Prague, has a good picture of Smetana’s memorial/grave in Vyšehrad.

We’ve already listened to music about butterflies, so, for those of you who are spending a little time visiting old castles like Vyšehrad this Summer (who isn’t?), here’s some castley(?) sort of music, starting of course with…

Vysehrad

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Vyšehrad (the High Castle), as you know, opens Smetana’s Má Vlast cycle of tone poems. It describes the rise and fall of the fortress of Vyšehrad, now a rather pleasant park overlooking the river Vltava.

Bax’s Tintagel takes us to the north Cornwall coast and the ruined castle of Tintagel; the music combines sea-scape with love music depicting(?) the legend of Tristan and Isolde.

Two versions of Mussorgsky’s Il Vecchio Castello (the Old Castle) from Pictures at an Exhibition: the original, for piano, and Ravel’s orchestration (where interestingly the main melodic line is given to saxophone – what do saxophones, I wonder, have to do with old castles?).

Next, we visit the home of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Confiturembürg (well, it’ll soon be Christmas) –the beginning of Act 2 of the Nutcracker, The Magic Castle on the Mountain of Sweets.

Finally the absolute antithesis of the Sugar Plum Fairy: Bluebeard in his blood-drenched castle. I’ve chosen two rooms, two different aspects of what it is to be human: the Torture Chamber and the Secret Garden.

And after that I think I might risk just one little photo of Essex…

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