Requiem: Requiescat in pace?

Unusually, it’s the pace (peace) word that’s predominant in Fauré’s setting of the Requiem, the Mass for the Dead. Many composers – Mozart, Berlioz, Verdi, to name but the most famous – seem to have taken a certain grisly and theatrical delight in portraying the terrors of the Day of Judgement as depicted in the […]

Clair de lune

Moonlight. Verlaine’s poetry translated by Fauré & Debussy …Au calme clair de lune triste et beau, Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres Et sangloter d’extase les jets d’eau, Les grands jets d’eau sveltes parmi les marbres. Paul Verlaine: Clair de lune from Fêtes galantes […In the calm moonbeams, sad and beautiful, Which make […]

Dolly

Music for children: French composers have provided some of the most famous. There’s Bizet’s Jeux d’enfants, Debussy’s Children’s Corner, Ravel’s Ma Mère l’Oye and, of course, Fauré’s Dolly Suite. Some were written for children to listen to, and some for – albeit pretty musically gifted – children to play. Judging from the photo above (Fauré […]

An orchestral finale

This brief overview of Vienna’s musical history has dealt almost exclusively with composers, but it would be very unfair to conclude any examination of the city’s musical life without mention of two of Vienna’s major institutions: the State Opera and the Vienna Philharmonic (in point of fact the opera and symphony orchestras are, for all […]

The end of days

John Martin’s terrifying vision of the apocalypse has several musical equivalents. Apart from the many settings of the Requiem Mass’s Dies irae (think Berlioz, think Verdi), there are two famous musical Judgement Days that are the work of composers very much associated with Vienna: Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony (Symphony No. 2 in c) and Franz Schmidt’s […]

SchmWaltzing it

Schmaltz? Sure, but great schmaltz! Apfelstrudel, Sachertorte, Waltz, Esterhazytorte — which is the odd one out? Why, Esterhazytorte of course! (They’re all sweet and delicious confections, but Esterhazytorte comes from Budapest.) The Viennese waltz took the musical world by storm, and it wasn’t just the Strausses and the Lehárs who had a monopoly. Beethoven, Schubert, […]