Lazy bones?

There are people who, through some flaw or other in their personality, acquire a bad reputation, a reputation which then proceeds to dog them throughout history to the detriment of several other sterling qualities: one such is poor Anatoly Lyadov. He wasn’t poor, not in the pecuniary sense, anyway. A scion of a well-to-do St.Petersburg […]

The thief of time?

No, it’s not procrastination I’m thinking of, it’s Rachmaninoff. Tempo rubato translates as ‘robbed or stolen time’ and is the performance practice of slowing down or speeding up a phrase in music, mostly without any indication from the composer that such tempo alterations are required.  For the classically minded it’s known (pejoratively) as ‘pulling the […]

Sonate pour piano?

Can you think of a famous late nineteenth/early twentieth century French piano sonata? If you drew a blank, don’t worry, it’s not all that surprising – the list of composers who didn’t write one reads like a Who’s-Who of French music of the fin de siècle: Gounod, Massenet, Saint-Saëns, Chabrier, Fauré, Chausson, Debussy, Satie, Ravel […]

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 […]