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…
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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