An Entertainment At The Court Of The Sun King
The early personal reign of Louis was highly successful in both internal and foreign affairs. He advanced the idea of glorifying the monarch and monarchy through the arts. Louis was a discriminating patron of the great literary and artistic figures of France’s classical age, including Jean Baptiste Moliere and Jean Baptiste Lully. His state established or developed in rapid succession academies for painting and sculpture, inscriptions, French artists at Rome and science, followed by the Paris Observatory and the academies of architecture and music – for which he created for the pleasure of himself and his second wife, Madame de Maintenon. The literary Academie Francaise also came under formal royal control.
Jean Baptiste Poquelin, who took the “nom de plume” of Molière, was a playwright and actor, the son of a merchant who was upholsterer to the king. He is credited with the creation of French High Comedy, and the genius of his plays lay in exposing the hypocrisies and follies of his society through satire. Under royal patronage his troupe, performing at the Palais Royal, enjoyed continuous success until his death.
Jean-Baptiste Lully was the principal architect of what became known as the French Baroque style in the Baroque period. He dominated the French music scene in an almost monopolistic fashion during the seventeenth century. In February of 1653, Lully and Louis danced in the same ballet together for the first time. Coincidentally, it was in this ballet, Ballet de la nuit, that Louis XIV gained his nickname the “Sun King” from the role of the same name that he played so successfully. It was less than a month later that King Louis appointed Lully his compositeur de la musique instrumentale de Roi. This appointment began a lifelong relationship between the King and Lully. Lully collaborated with Molière and together they staged comédies-ballets . In his staged works, Lully insisted on literary distinction and dramatic unity. This new focus within dramatic musical works proved very popular in France where Lully’s finest works coincided with a peak in the French literary world.
Special Thanks to:
Joyce Mandeville, The T.W. Wood Gallery & Arts Center Celina Moore for the loan of our harpsichord – Lost Nation Theater, Ruth Richads, Certified Piano Technician, – Jim Lowe, The Times Argus Elizabeth Crean, Seven Days – Joan Stepenske – Vermont Opera Theater.
Stradivari and the “Davidov” Cello
Antonio Stradivari’s instruments are regarded as among the finest bowed stringed instruments ever created, are highly prized, and still played by professionals today. The top five world record prices paid for any musical instrument are for Stradivarius violins and were all sold at Christies ‘auctions for a collective price topping well over 10 million dollars.
Stradivari is most famous as a Master Luthier for the creation and his revolutionary redesigning of the standard violin, Even though no one really knows how exactly he formed his violins, or what methods he used, it can definitely be said that he incorporated advanced geometry and mathematics into his craftsmanship. However, Stradivari also made guitars, violas, cellos, and at least one harp — more than 1,101 instruments in all, by current estimates. Approximately 650 of these instruments still survive. Two famous Stradivarius cellos are are the Davidov Stradivarius, named for the famed Russian virtuoso, Karl Davidov, currently played by Yo-Yo Ma, and the Duport Stradivarius cello owned by Mstislav Rostropovich until his death in 2007.
Karl Davidov was an important Russian cellist of the nineteenth century. He was born in Latvia in 1838 into a musical family. Karl began piano lessons at the age of five, and took up the cello at twelve, with Heinrich Schmidt, principal cellist at the Moscow Theatre.
Davidov was a child prodigy. He studied composition at the Leipzig Conservatory with Moritz Hauptmann. Under the influence of Hauptmann, Davidov became one of the first cellists to link cello technique with anatomical and physiological aspects of performance.
Succeeding his mentor, Davidov became professor of cello and composition at the Leipzig Conservatory at Age 22 and thereafter toured Europe extensively, becoming famous as “The Paginini of the cello” – the best of his time. Tchaikovsky declared him to the “Czar of Cellists.” In 1876 Tchaikovsky and Davidov were both candidates for the post of Director at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and it was Davidov who was awarded the position. In 1887 he was forced to flee Russia after being discovered in a scandalous love affair with a beautiful young student at the conservatory. He returned to Russia the next the next year, and began concertizing again.
In January of 1889, at the age of fifty, he was suddenly taken ill in the midst of a performance of a Beethoven sonata, and he died a few days later.
Proust In Love
“Everything I have ever done has always been thanks to Reynaldo.”
By the age of nineteen in 1894, the musical child prodigy, Reynaldo Hahn, had written many songs about love; however, his worldly sophistication masked shyness about his own personal feelings. He had close intimate friendships with women but he reportedly loved them only at a distance his whole life.
1894 was to prove a fateful year for Hahn. At the home of artist Madeleine Lemaire, he met an aspiring writer three years older than himself. The writer was the then little-known, “highly strung and snobby” Marcel Proust. Proust and Hahn shared a love for painting, literature, and the composer, Gabriel Fauré. They became lovers and often traveled together and collaborated on various projects. One of those projects, Portraits de peintres (1896), is a work consisting of spoken text with piano accompaniment.
Hahn honed his writing skills during this period, becoming one of the best critics on music and musicians. Seldom appreciating his contemporaries, he instead admired the artists of the past (shown in his portraits of legendary figures). His writing, like Proust’s, was characterized by a deft skill in depicting small details.
Proust’s unfinished autobiographical novel Jean Santeuil, posthumously published and, by some, considered ill-structured, nevertheless shows nascent genius and foreshadows his masterpiece À la recherche du temps perdu. Proust began to write it in 1895, one year after meeting Hahn (on whom the hero is reportedly based). Although by 1896 they were no longer lovers, they remained mutually supportive colleagues until Proust’s death in 1922.
Conversations With Nature
The T.W. Wood Gallery & Arts Center Presents:
“Conversations with Nature” Featuring critically acclaimed pianist Cody Michaels and Members of WordStage Vermont
Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 4:00pm at the T.W. Wood Gallery & Arts Center: 36 College Street – Montpelier, VT
General Admission – $20 | Seniors 62 + – $15 | Students – $10
OR PAY WHAT YOU CAN! All Proceeds to benefit the T.W. Wood Gallery & Arts Center’s Collections Care Fund
For Tickets and information call 802-828-8743 or visit www.twwoodgallery.org
For award-winning piano soloist and composer Cody Michaels, “the piano is a way to connect with the mystery of creation and every song is a prayer.”
A former park ranger and farm hand, Cody’s unique, passionate musical expressions inspire comparisons to the likes of Keith Jarrett, and George Winston. Also a storyteller and poet, his exhilarating performances celebrate the wonders of nature, simple living, and the human spirit.
In “Conversations with Nature,” Cody performs five of his original compositions which will be interspersed with the reading (by members of WordStage Vermont) of four sonnets written by the Italian Baroque Composer Antonio Vivaldi, for the performance of what has become his best-known work – the concertos that make up The Four Seasons.
A reception with the artists will follow the performance.