Friday, July 7, 2017

Romantic Composers

In June, amidst surgeries and heartaches, Scarlett and I spent two blissful hours each Thursday listening to snippets like this:
You can listen to it the way her audiences did; just turn it on in your living room.  She preferred playing to small groups.  Close your eyes and imagine her fingers dancing over the keys, while Johannes Brahms sits in the corner, slyly smiling.

Did you know he was such a good looking young man?

Neither did I.  I'd only seen the scary old man pictures.

Tannis Gibson, Dean of the College of Fine Arts at the UofA, showed me a side of the composer hitherto unknown and unconsidered.   She talked to us about the interpersonal and the technical, the instruments and the times, the performances and her own experiences. 

It was a magical month.

She shared her favorite performers, and sometimes I recognized the music:
Listen past the scratchiness; it's from 1938.
Imagine the fingers floating.

They were all there, those who turned the world of Classical music in a new direction.  Chopin and Brahms, the Schumanns and Liszt, Felix Mendelsohn and Fanny Hensel ... what, you haven't heard of Fanny Hensel?
Don't be surprised, we talked a lot about the treatment of women, too.  At the same time that women abolitionists here in the USofA were told to stay off the main stage, were told that females speaking in public was inappropriate, so in Europe were these talented women relegated to smaller, more intimate, more appropriate venues.

It was a month long immersion in a world I rarely visit.  Thankfully, I have a list of suggested listenings (of which these are just a few) to keep me company until my next journey into the unknown.  I'm definitely an old dog learning new tricks.

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