Classical Music Month~ September 11

“In 1907, Sergei Rachmaninov saw a black and white reproduction of Isle of the Dead, a painting by the Swiss symbolist artist, Arnold Böcklin…When Rachmaninov saw Böcklin’s original color painting, he…went so far as to say, ‘If I had seen first the original I, probably, would have not written my Isle of the Dead. I like it in black and white’.”

The Isle of the Dead by Arnold Böcklin

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“In 1880 Marie Berna, the American-born widow of a German diplomat, visited Böcklin in Florence, where she saw an unfinished first version of this painting (now in the Kunstmuseum Basel) on his easel. She commissioned the present work as a memorial to her husband, requesting the additions of the draped coffin and the shrouded female figure. Prodded by his dealer, Böcklin painted three other versions by 1886. This romantic image would become one of Germany’s most beloved, widely circulated through poor reproductions as well as a related etching of 1890 by Max Klinger (1857–1920).” ~The Met

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Classical Music Month~ September 8

Table XV. Baba-Yaga’s Hut by Vasily Kandinsky

“For artist Wassily Kandinsky, the [‘Pictures at an Exhibition‘] cycle served as a basis for his first and only theater project, which was premiered in the German city of Dessau in 1928. Wassily Kandinsky was out to create a synthetic ‘Gesamtkustwerk‘. For him, that meant that sounds took on hues that listeners could see before their eyes as they listened to the music. It was intended to be a Gesamtkustwerk of sound, color and motion.”

1928 / Graphite, India ink, and watercolor on paper
11 4/5″x15 3/4″ / Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

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National Piano Month~ September 8

Pictures at an Exhibition (original piano version) by Modest Mussorgsky
“One of Modest Mussorgsky’s best friends was Viktor Hartmann, an artist who tragically died of an aneurism in 1873 at the age of 39. Two weeks after Hartmann’s death, his friends and supporters organized a major exhibition of his works at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. About a year later, Mussorgsky composed ‘Pictures at an Exhibition. Completed in only twenty days, ‘Pictures’ was originally a set of short pieces for piano in which Mussorgsky depicted himself walking through the exhibition and contemplating Hartmann’s works.”

The Hut On Fowl’s Legs (Baba-Yaga) by Viktor Hartmann

“In Russian folklore, Baba Yaga is a witch who flies through the woods on a mortar and pestle, searching for children to eat. She lives in a hut on hen’s legs that stalks the land. This movement was inspired by Hartmann’s design for an ornate clock in the shape of Baba Yaga’s hut.” [Watercolor. N/D]

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Classical Music Month~ September 6

Lieder ohne Worte by Frederic, Lord Leighton

1861 / Oil on canvas / 40″x24 3/4″ / Tate Britain, London, UK

The title was suggested by a visitor to the artist’s studio, Mrs Ralph Benson,
and evokes Felix Mendelssohns famous Songs without Words“,
created for the piano between 1829 and 1845. ~ Tate Britain

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