Sunday, October 19, 2014

Life with Friends

by Ellen T. Harris

In my book George Frideric Handel: A Life with Friends (W. W. Norton, 2014), I look at Handel’s music and life in relation to the lives of six identifiable friends: Joseph Goupy and James Hunter, who are described by Sir John Hawkins as Handel’s closest friends; Elizabeth Mayne, Elizabeth Palmer, and Anne Donnellan, who like Hunter, were recipients of bequests from Handel; and Mary Delany, whose correspondence details a close friendship. In the following excerpt from the first chapter, “Introductions,” I discuss some of the commonalities among these friends and suggest the kinds of associations they had with various themes in Handel’s music.
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Goupy, Hunter, Delany, Donnellan, Mayne, and Palmer were among Handel’s closest acquaintances, and, together with Handel, they are the co-protagonists of this book. That is not to say that they represent a group of friends. Delany and Donnellan were intimate, but otherwise there is no evidence that any of the others were close. Rather, each of the friends had an independent relationship with Handel. Except for Goupy, who is identified as an intimate friend in the eighteenth century, and Delany, whose correspondence details their close association, these individuals appear in Handel’s will as recipients of friendship bequests, standing apart from the family legacies and the gifts Handel made in gratitude for service—such as those bequests given to John Christopher Smith, his librettists, medical and legal advisers, and servants.

The affinities among these six friends paint a striking picture, further distinguishing them from other legatees and known associates or patrons. Most lived close by in the neighborhood of St. George’s, Hanover Square. With the exception of Hunter, their homes form a circle with a radius of less than a quarter of a mile. Not surprisingly, all six friends possessed deep musical interest and talent, something that does not appear to be the case for other legatees who were also neighbors, such as James Smyth, Benjamin Martyn, and John Gowland, whose wills make no reference to music books or instruments. Most can be considered independent in terms of religion, few of them adhering literally to the normative creed of the Church of England but rather ranging in belief from Catholicism through dissenting protestant sects to heretical versions of Anglican doctrine, reflecting Handel’s strong belief in religious tolerance. They also stand apart from the norm in terms of marital status. Only Mrs. Mayne had children. The others who married, including Delany, Hunter, and Palmer, made matches strongly disapproved of by their families, resulting in various degrees of disinheritance. None of these marriages resulted in children. The others, not only including Handel, Goupy, and Donnellan but also, among a wider circle of acquaintance, Bernard Granville, Christopher Batt, and Benjamin Martyn, remained unmarried; James Smyth, who did marry, was childless. Like Handel (but unlike Granville, Batt, Martyn, or Smyth), all six friends experienced serious financial problems in the 1730s or 1740s, and many, as a result, were engaged in litigation or bankruptcy. Nevertheless, all, like Handel, were extremely generous and charitable with what they had.

The documentary evidence about the private lives of these friends, in some cases much more abundant than the surviving information on Handel, derives from multiple sources, including letters, diaries, personal accounts, legal cases, property deeds, and insurance records, and offers an intimate picture of London life during the first half of the eighteenth century. The lack of such sources for Handel means that his biographers have hardly any testimony from the composer himself. By examining the sources concerning his friends, one can glimpse Handel’s personal interactions and posit motivations and threads of action. Although these conclusions often appear shorn of the cautionary “probably,” thereby avoiding the constant repetition of this word, they are educated guesses based on extensive research. One of the most rewarding aspects of exploring these relationships has been the light it sheds on Handel’s compositions. Put simply, the lives of his friends illustrate how Handel’s music intersected with eighteenth-century London.

 The music of Handel offers a tapestry of eighteenth-century culture and society. Woven with tremendous skill and imbued with vibrant colors, the images on its surface may tell of shepherds and shepherdesses, chivalrous knights, kings and queens, and biblical heroes, but the threads that make up the warp and weft derive from the interests, concerns, and desires of the world in which Handel lived. While it is hardly surprising to say that art is a product of its time and place, the relationship between Handel’s music and its milieu goes deeper than most. In order to gain a full understanding of the extent of this relationship in both public and private contexts, it is not enough to touch on contemporary issues in a general way or to focus in depth on a single cultural issue, although both approaches can enhance (and have significantly altered) our understanding. Nor does an examination of the few surviving records of Handel’s personal life offer satisfactory insight into his compositional and professional choices. Rather, in order to appreciate how deeply his musical scores resonated with his audience, one needs to look at the lives of individuals in that audience, lives in which Handel participated. Knowing about his friends, and in particular the friends to whom he left bequests in his will, extends our knowledge of Handel in his world and furthers our understanding of his music in the society for which it was written. Marriage, friendship, medicine, law, commerce, public relations, finance, religion, and politics all play a part.

This is not to say that Handel depicted his friends in his music, only that they offer an example of the public for whom Handel composed, and as such also served at times as a private sounding board for his new compositions. Handel’s operas set in the Middle East (Rinaldo, Tamerlano), for example, would not have seemed remote to James Hunter, who was an international trader and later in life worked directly with the British East India Company. The tension between a forced marriage and true love (Floridante, Imeneo) was not limited to exotic or fantastical climes but common to many: Mary Delany had both experiences. False accusations and legal problems (Solomon, Susanna) plagued Delany and her husband, while Hunter and Goupy both endured long court battles. Issues of religious toleration (Esther, Judas Maccabaeus, Theodora) touched them all.

Ellen T. Harris is professor emerita at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and incoming president of the American Musicological Society. Her previous book, Handel as Orpheus: Voice and Desire in the Chamber Cantatas (Harvard UP, 2001), was awarded the 2002 Otto Kindeldey Award from the American Musicological Society and the 2002-03 Louis Gottschalk Prize from the Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Those EuroStagings: Opera at Will

by Laurenz Lütteken

This post originally appeared, in German, in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung of 24 September 2014, in print and digital formats, under the title “Oper der Beliebigkeiten.” We are grateful to Professor Lütteken and the NZZ for permission to publish this adaptation in English, by DKH after a translation by Katja Herges. 

Sad but true: the new opera season promises few encounters with new works, but rather “new readings,” “unusual perspectives,” or “radical re-interpretations.” So far we are spared the Liebestod  in C minor, harps only, and the Falstaff fugue for marimba and vuvuzela. But what is very much at issue, at least for the moment, is the ongoing destabilization of production values, whose borders, after just over a generation, have largely eroded away.

Of the many Rheingold productions to be viewed today on Gerrman-speaking stages, you can wander from the oil fields of California (Bayreuth) to environmental catastrophe and piles of rubbish (Nürnberg) to multimedia video, clowning, and haunted houses (Mannheim). Figaro plays in a large cellar room in Augsburg (adorned with signs that say “Bully-Free Zone,” “No Means No,” “No Sexual Harassment in the Workplace”); Carmen, in the time of global migration through Hannover, Barbiere at a Mafia godfather’s in Osnabrück, Manon at the airport in Graz. It is tantalizing, grotesque, endless. And the scores are at risk of similar treatment. Already in Zurich there is a Fidelio with a rearranged sequence of numbers; shortly, in Berlin, there will be an Ariadne with a female chamberlain.

Instructions for Use

Experiments of this kind, whose roots date back to the 1970s, belong to the brazen quotidian life of the modern stage. So they are no longer experiments, but rather simple convention and confection. Nevertheless, the published justifications in the program books go on and on in their largely unchallenged attempt to claim meaning and necessity for their particular approach. They no longer seek to offer a path to understanding the work, but rather instructions for use—why the junkie Tristan injects himself with the love potion, why Lulu shows pornographic movies in an eccentric sex club. Accordingly, for the last while, media attention has tended toward weighty interpretation of these increasingly wild stagings. You're grateful to get past matters of Otello's musical embodiment and on to the tenor's biographical note.

The printed program, indeed, has become a coloring-book of indulgent self-expression, claiming a cornucopia of associations with film, image, and text. And inevitably this passes to the next generation. The Trossingen Conservatory recently announced, in all seriousness, that it would transfer Mozart’s Figaro to the “world of fashion shows” with a countertenor as Cherubino—and a barrel organ.

All this is disconcerting, at the very least—for one thing, because of its arbitrariness: Rigoletto on the Planet of the Apes, Rinaldo at a hotel bar, the Magic Flute in a dementia ward. All this has happened already; and the situations are not only interchangeable but inevitably miss the dramatic point. You would think the notion of staging a piece in the general conditions of its date of origin to be harmless enough. Hardly. Since at least Calixto Bieito's productions (2001ff.), nudity, bloodlust, and body fluids of every sort have, apparently permanently, established themselves in the vocabulary of the music theater. And that is disconcerting, too, since the correctives are held to be non-viable.

If, then, the media response is particularly cruel, it is merely because the piece "doesn’t play" in Duisburg-Ruhr, in Syria, or on the moon. And if no paradigm or model can be identifed, then the production is “on target,” as Thomas Bernhard would say, or “without alternative,” as political buzz-speak has it.



Lulu / Basel 2009

In the arts, arguments of “lack of alternative” must be viewed with alarm. The widespread claim that you cannot do an opera “that way” anymore is not only teleological flim-flam, but also unfair. In opera houses, an unchallenged canon reigns, more concrete even than it was fifty years ago. There are thus no valid reasons for avoiding all-new operas. But it is more than dubious to “modernize” the old works with ever-new imagery, precisely because it just tends to solidify the canon anyway. Furthermore, the term “modernity” as used in this context—to mean “disturbing,” “provocative,” and “disconcerting”—is so rusty that we can confidently relegate it to past history.

Historical responsibility

Treating texts of the past historically is neither indispensable nor—as often argued—old-fashioned and philological (even if musicology seldom argues that particular point). But what is the purpose of a critical edition of Don Giovanni if the setting talks about sex and crime of pop stars without further ado (like in Linz)? Texts, scores of the past, require a particular sensibility. It is only if we succeed in tracing the present in the past (instead of merely imposing the present on the past) that a work of art, a staged piece of music, can prove its value.

The autonomy of the theater is held to trump such sensibilities. But there must be strict limits. The  twentieth century is so rich in cases of  text abuses that it is not simply frivolous, but arrogant, to ignore the warnings. The 1928 Leningrad performance of Fidelio was interrupted because the liberation by a class enemy, a minister of the king, was deemed inadequate for a revolutionary society; in 1943 the banner of the SS Panzer division Wiking was marched through the Bayreuth festival grounds during Meistersinger (as staged by Wieland Wagner), thus turning the production into a Nazi festival. Even if nobody explicitly claims such ideas as “director’s theatre,” there is no fundamental difference between these and the Forza del destino in Guantánamo or Tannhäuser in the bio-gas plant. Historical texts are sensitive structures, which should not achieve autonomy at their own expense, in particular after the experiences of the last hundred years. Of course it's possible to stage tales of Californian oil fields or about Guantánamo. But why not do it with new texts and music?

Hermeneutics

An old hermeneutic principle insists on generalizability. An interpretation is justified if it can claim meaning through the reading of the text and thereby open itself to a third person. But this is the polar opposite of a wide-ranging plenitude of associations which are, themselves, continuously in need of explanation in order to be considered as “communicable.” So abandoning the principle of generalizability not only compromises the dignity and autonomy of texts, it also reduces the spectator to a distant figure in an ever-more fantastic landscape, and thus ultimately threatens the very business that it pretends to support. If in the past singers “embodied” their roles—a challenge that can hardly be overestimated in case of a Tristan, a Scarpia, or a Wozzeck—nowadays the flood of scenic extravaganza so overshadows the development of the musical argument that the overall performance is wounded and too often fails. The consequence is already apparent: note the increasing number of operas in concert. While these violate the very essence of the opera, they nevertheless liberate musicians and the audience from an increasingly heavy burden of picture worlds coming from out of the blue. 

Respect

The merits of these practices are argued, from time to time, in episodes that revolve around such concepts as “faithful readings of texts” and “director’s theater.” Yet it’s not about “faithfulness” but rather about respect for the text, particularly in view of 20th-century experience. Objections to the dogma according to which the interpreter is above the interpreted are all too rare—and are merely swept nowadays into the ethically doubtful aesthetic offered up by the lawyers of  “stage direction.” Opera of course occurs in the moment: that was a commonplace even before the boom of the dreaded word “performative.” But that doesn’t commit opera to alleged sensation: rather to the connection of vicinity and distance, of respect, historical depth, and presence. Maybe there is hope for a countercurrent to Opera at Will. But at the beginning of this new season, I don't see much room for optimism.

Laurenz Lütteken is Professor and Chair of Musicology at the University of Zurich (web biography HERE). After his 1991 dissertation on Guillaume Dufay he was appointed acting director of the Institute for Musicology at the University of Heidelberg in 1995, then full professor at the University of Marburg in 1996, moving in 2001 to Zurich.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Schenker Correspondence

by William Drabkin

Heinrich Schenker: Selected Correspondence, ed. Ian Bent, David Bretherton, and Willliam Drabkin (Boydell Press, 2014), is the product of a long-established Schenker documentation project and comprises an extensively annotated selection of letters written by or to Schenker, with linking passages from his diaries.

[Editor's note: Schenker Documents Online, phase 2, was awarded the Society for Music Theory's Citation of Special Merit in November 2013.]

The cast of characters includes household names from the world of musicology (Guido Adler, Otto Erich Deutsch, Alfred Einstein, Anthony van Hoboken), as well as publishers, performers (e.g., Eugen d'Albert, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Paul von Klenau), composers (Busoni, Schoenberg, Hindemith), educators (J. P. Dunn), pupils (Hans Weisse, F.-E. von Cube), and friends. Many of the letters have not yet appeared in Schenker Documents Online; they reveal further aspects of Schenker's multi-faceted career, his place in the Viennese musical world, and the influence he exerted in his lifetime in Austria, Germany, and further afield.

The 450 letters offered here, an extension of the scholarship that has gone into SDO, are published in English; they have been translated and annotated by a team of twelve scholars based in the UK, the USA, Austria, and Germany. They are presented by topic and theme, in a broadly chronological arrangement, with a substantial historical preface and introduction.

The volume is thoroughly indexed by name and subject. Its 544 pages of text are supplemented by 16 pages of plates, which give sample images of handwriting, drawings and photographs of correspondents, cartoons, and a title-page from one of Schenker¹s published compositions. The book will be on display at the joint annual meetings of the American Musicological Society and the Society for Music Theory in Milwaukee in November. A book launch in London is also envisaged.

William Drabkin is Professor of Music, emeritus, at the University of Southampton. Webpage HERE.

Friday, October 10, 2014

SAX200
@ Museum of Musical Instruments, Brussels

by Christopher Brent Murray

Two hundred years ago this November, Antoine-Joseph Sax, called Adolphe, was born in Dinant. Today, the Museum of Musical Instruments in Brussels, or MIM,<1> has devoted an entire floor of its complex to celebrating his bicentennial in an exhibition titled “SAX200.”

Adolphe Sax, 1844
after an engraving by Charles Baugniet
MIM, Brussels


Although Sax lived in Belgium from its foundation in 1830 until relocating to Paris in 1843, defining his nationality is a refreshingly delicate task, given that we was born during the Congress of Vienna. His case was briefly debated on the MusiSorbonne listserv (the Francophone equivalent of AMS-L) at the time of the call for papers for the international Sax conference held at the MIM in July 2014. Nicolas Meeùs offered the comfortable conclusion that Sax’s confusingly stateless status is, in fact, typically Belgian. (Claims of belgitude, are a sort of local sport, with past musical targets ranging from Josquin to Beethoven to Franck.) A part of Sax’s vast personal collection of musical instruments ended up in Belgium following an auction of his effects that resulted from his declaring bankruptcy. They form an important part of the MIM collection and have been supplemented here by numerous loans from outside institutions.

Sax is of course best remembered for creating the saxophone. Simply put, this was achieved (around 1840) by transforming the clarinet, with its wooden cylindrical bore, into a new instrument with a conical brass bore. Sax’s first great success, however, was the saxhorn, an instrument that changed the face of nineteenth-century military and amateur brass ensembles, and caused Sax no small amount of worry from jealous competitors. SAX200 crafts the portrait of an restlessly inventive man, a sort of musical Edison, difficult to imagine existing outside of the nineteenth century with its increasingly efficient factories, industrial exhibitions, and international patents aimed at protecting intellectual property.

Trombone with six valves
and seven bells, 1876
MIM, Brussels, 1288
Visitors to the exhibition are equipped with headsets (included with admission) that allow them to hear descriptions of the presented objects and iconography in a range of languages. Most interesting are the musical excerpts performed and recorded on a selection of the some 200 instruments on display, including exotic creations for use on stage in operas like Aïda and Sigurd. It is a pity that more of these were not, I suppose, in good enough condition to be played, because such recordings truly bring the display case to life. My personal favorite was the bizarre Swanee-Sax, a 1927 creation crossing the slide whistle and the saxophone. The instrument, with its timbre situated somewhere between that of a kazoo and a theremin, immediately transports the listener to a jazz-age nightclub.

The SAX200 exhibition runs until January 11, 2015, and is well “worth the detour” as the Michelin guide would say, especially as it is only a short train ride for those who might find themselves in Paris, London, or Amsterdam in the coming months. The museum’s entrance is housed in an art nouveau monument, the extravagant shell of the former “Old England” department store. Built in 1898, its vegetal filigree ornaments a forward-thinking iron-and-glass structure that makes the most of its view from the Mont des Arts. A rooftop restaurant-café makes for pleasant contemplation of the city below.

Museum of Musical Instruments, Brussels
http://www.mim.be/sax200-exhibition


Christopher Brent Murray is a postdoctoral chargé de recherches with the FRS-FNRS (Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique) at the Université libre de Bruxelles, where he is also in charge of undegraduate analysis instruction.




<1>MIM (pronounced “meme”) results from the happy possibility of a common acronym in both French and Flemish: Musée des instruments de musique or Muziekinstrumentenmuseum.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Perchance to Stream

Almost every day in the right hand column of this blog, under the heading The Blogosphere, you will see a link to the latest post by Charles T. Downey in his blog Ionarts (“Something Other than Politics in Washington, D.C.”). The recurring Sunday feature, Perchance to Stream, is an always-dandy “selection of links to online audio and online video from the week gone by.”

This week's selection was particularly fine, with some ravishing Monteverdi and very clever Rameau, as well as the inaugural concert on October 2 from the new Rosey Concert Hall in Switzerland.
  • Perchance to Stream, 5 October 2014 HERE
  • Alex Ross reflects on streaming vs. hoarding CDs HERE
Musicology Now will publish an original post by Downey in the near future.




Charles T. Downey runs a thriving blog (est. 2003), freelances for the Washington Post, and teaches music and art history at St. Anselm's Abbey School. He holds the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in musicology from the Catholic University of America. Downey's “Meet the Moderator” page is HERE.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hildegard's Cosmic Egg

by Margot Fassler and Christian Jara

NOTE: Margot Fassler, Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy at the University of Notre Dame, will present the second annual President's Endowed Plenary Lecture at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Musicological Society in November. Fassler's topic is “Hildegard’s Cosmos and Its Music: Making a Digital Model for the Modern Planetarium.” The lecture takes place Thursday, November 6, 2014, from 5:30 to 6:30 pm in the Crystal Ballroom of the Hilton Milwaukee City Center, 509 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The public is invited.

After this I saw a vast instrument, round and shadowed, in the shape of an egg. ...
(Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias I.iii)


The egg that appears in a vision to Hildegard of Bingen is a post-Lapsarian, post-Incarnational model of the cosmos, but foundational to it are astronomical understandings Hildegard would have found in contemporary treatises, charts, and wind diagrams. This digital model of the creation and cosmos is being made by Christian Jara and Margot Fassler at the University of Notre Dame. It unfolds in two acts, the first of which will be previewed at the Milwaukee national meeting of the American Musicological Society in the course of Fassler's plenary lecture. This act depicts the dramatic events of creation—a big bang in slow motion—including the separation of light from darkness and the calling to life of the angelic hosts, and the formation of the earth. This introduction will be followed by act II, a moving three-dimensional model of the cosmos, with zoomable features. Both acts are accompanied by music composed by Hildegard, and sung by students from the Program in Sacred Music at Notre Dame, conducted by Professor Carmen-Helena Tellez. The nuns of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Hildegard, Eibingen (Rüdesheim, Germany), have generously made available the high resolution images used in creating the model, and animated versions of some of them will be featured in the talk.

The complete model with music will be unveiled in Notre Dame's Digital Visualization Theater on March 12, 2015, at the annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of America.

Scivias II.i and Scivias I.vi are the images underlying the presentation in Milwaukee, and both are copies made in the 1920s by the nuns of Eibigen from the now-lost original, Wiesbaden 1. The software we use at Notre Dame allows us to work together, scholar and digital modeler, to turn flat images into moving three-dimensional displays, and to add the music that Hildegard composed as she thought about the stages of creation under discussion. Scivias I.vi  is a depiction of the heavenly hosts, the nine ranks of angels.

We will move the image into the dome of the planetarium and spin the ranks in one by one, to the music of Hildegard's antiphon for the angels, "O Gloriossimi."


According to Hildegard's understanding of Genesis I, the angels were created first as they are pure light. The light that surrounds the cosmos makes it appear like a fiery globe, and we will make it permeable to the entire structure can be zoomed into, revealing its features, and allowing for deeper understanding of the cosmos to a twelfth-century theologian, scientist, and composer—and Hildegard was all three.

We are now creating various test models of the fiery shell of the universe, and you  will see some at the AMS lecture, with appropriate music. The image of the cosmic egg from Scivias I.iii circulates widely on the internet. But because we have the high-resolution photographs, lent by the nuns of Eibingen, who retain the rights to them and who own the original manuscript, we are able to incorporate details that would otherwise not be available. The images below are, first, from the internet, and, second, a blowup of the edge of the image in high resolution.


 All rights reserved, Abbey of St. Hildegard, Eibingen.

Preparing sounding, digital images from medieval manuscripts and studying the music that relates provides the researcher with ideas based on new evidence. We think we know how the images were made, and the degree to which Hildegard thought through and with them as she composed her music and her liturgical poetry.

When available, Musicology Now will co-publish with the Medieval Institute at Notre Dame a video trailer with moving images.


Margot Fassler's faculty webpage at Notre Dame is HERE. Christian Jara is a digital artist affiliated with Notre Dame's Center for Creative Computing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Franchomme Project

by Louise Dubin

Auguste Franchomme (1808–84) was perhaps the most admired French cellist of his time. Born in Lille in 1808, he came to Paris in 1825 with almost no money and won the Conservatoire’s premier prix in cello within a few months.  Within five years, he was one of the most famous cellists in all Europe, known for his beautiful tone, moving performances, and virtuosic technique (which he was already showcasing in his own compositions, see below). While still a student in Paris, he was employed with the Théâtre de l’Ambigu-Comique. In 1827 he played briefly in the Opéra orchestra before moving to the Théâtre-Italien, where he soon became principal cellist. He became first cellist of Louis-Philippe’s Musique du Roi; cellist of the Alard Quartet and the Matinées Annuelles (the most prestigious French chamber music society of the mid-19th century); principal cellist of the Paris Conservatory Orchestra (Société des Concerts du Conservatoire); and a beloved teacher at the Paris Conservatoire for 56 years, until just weeks before his death. He lived modestly, but was able to acquire the Antonio Stradivarius cello that had previously been played by Jean-Louis Duport (and, later, by Mstislav Rostropovich), described by Anner Bylsma as “the most beautiful cello ever made.” He was made a chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in 1872.

Franchomme is remembered today mainly as the dear friend and frequent performance partner of Chopin.  Liszt introduced Franchomme to Chopin when they were in their early 20s, and their ensuing friendship became an important mooring in Chopin’s increasingly tempestuous life.  Franchomme was the dedicatee of several of Chopin’s compositions including his final work, the Sonata for Piano and Cello, op. 65, and he was the recipient of the last letter Chopin wrote. Chopin incorporated Franchomme’s revisions in the revised version of the Introduction and Polonaise brillante, op. 3, and the two friends composed together their Grand Duo Concertant sur “Robert le Diable” de Meyerbeer.

Franchomme was an accomplished composer in his own right, but, remarkably, most of 50-some pieces he published during his lifetime have been out of print since his death The forthcoming CD on the Delos label, “The Franchomme Project,” offers world premiere recordings of some of these works. You can watch a video of me and Julia Bruskin performing the Nocturne, op. 14, no. 1 HERE, and of me and Saeunn Thorsteinsdottir performing the Nocturne, op. 15, no. 2 just below.



There will also be a Dover Performance Edition, Auguste Franchomme: Selected Works for Cello and Piano, selected and introduced by me (Dover, 2015). More information on Auguste Franchomme and the Franchomme Project HERE.

Franchomme first appeared as soloist before the grand public at a concert of the Société des Concerts, during its second season, when he was just 21.

Dimanche 29 Mars 1829

1. Ouverture d’Oberon, de Weber.
2. Air tiré de l’Hymne de la nuit, de M. Lamartine, musique de M. Neukomm, chanté par M. Wartel.
3. Solo de cor, par M. Mengal.
4. Symphonie en la de Beethoven (redemandée).
5. Chœur de Weber.
6. Solo de violoncelle, par M. Franchomme.
7. Alleluia, grand chœur du Messie de Haendel.

Most likely he offered one of the Caprices he would eventually publish as his op. 7.  This is what  Fétis wrote in the Revue musicale a few days later:
Un jeune homme, un enfant, M. Franchomme, est venu, ignore, jouer sans prétention un solo de violoncelle, de manière à se mettre tout à coup sur la ligne des plus grands artistes.  Il a dit un thême, sans aucun ornement, et toute l’assemblée fut transportée de plaisir. … Trois, quatre, cinq salves d’applaudissemens ont à peine suffi pour exprimer le plaisir qu’avait éprouvé l’assemblée.

A young man, a child, M. Franchomme, has come, unknown, and played without pretention a cello solo, in a manner that suddenly places him in the lineage of the greatest artists.  He stated a theme, without any ornament, and the audience was transported. … Three, four, five rounds of applause were barely enough for the audience to express their pleasure.

Louise Dubin has appeared recently with BargeMusic, Caramoor, Music of the Spheres, Piccolo Spoleto, Savannah Music Festival, in addition to concerts promoting The Franchomme Project. Her webpage is HERE.