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Late Literary Lunch – Chapter 47 of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain

Hello, and welcome to this, the third of the three late literary lunches, hosted here on FMR 101.3 by me, Tony Westwood.  On the menu, music that appears in works of literature.  In our first lunch, Beethoven appeared in various guises; last week it was the turn of English writers, and, consoled by the finale from Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony, we witnessed the destruction of the earth.  I promised you a mountain at this week’s lunch and a mountain you shall have — and a Magic Mountain at that.

 

10 years in the writing, German writer Thomas Mann’s novel The Magic Mountain, large both in scope and size, appeared in 1924.  On the surface, the story of a young man’s visit to a Swiss TB sanatorium in the years leading up to the Great War — World War I –, the novel takes a look at a Europe headed who knows where out of Modernism, taking in the human condition in itself – but always with a twinkling ironic eye.  This novel, one chapter of it, chapter 47 of 51 chapters, is the focus of today’s lunch.

 

Now this is a challenge.  How do I give a perspective on a chapter 47 that occurs six or seven years and 630 pages into ‘our hero’s’  (note the inverted commas) ‘our hero’s’ three-week visit up the mountain?

 

To achieve this, I must confess to having a special relationship with Mann’s novel.  I have turned this novel into a three-act musical entitled ‘Love in a Time of Tuberculosis’, the first musical since The Bells of St Mary’s to have tuberculosis as a theme.  So, using a few words and a bit of music, I will quickly get you genned up enough to understand why Thomas Mann chooses to highlight the music he brings into chapter 47, a chapter he entitles ‘Fullness of Harmony’.

 

We start with the call of the Magic Mountain.  ‘Up here’ — the invitation on the Alphorn echoes across the valleys.

 

Call

 

The writer Thomas Mann sends a young man named Hans Castorp for a three-week rest 5000 feet up in the Alps at the Swiss resort of Davos.  There is apparently not a lot to this young German from a well-to-do Hamburg business family.  This, at least, is the view of some of those he is to meet on the Magic Mountain.

 

Take King Arthur, Drake, Siddartha, Theseus,

Prometheus, Siegfried.

Ev’ry name’s a claim to fame and glory.

their stories they lead.

Here’s our leading man –

o, gents and ladies,

I am afraid he’s

not much to show.

Just one glance at our young Hans shows clearly

he’s really no hero.

 

Not very A

 

Not very bright, not very dim,

Not very much that would distinguish him.

Not very smooth, not very rough,

not really fit for all his hero-stuff.

 

Hans has come to visit his young cousin Joachim, a keen soldier who is an unwilling patient in the TB sanatorium.  Joachim is mixture between the Chocolate Soldier and Saint Sebastian and has a lovely tenor voice.

 

He tells Hans about life ‘up here’.

 

Up here Intro

 

Up here where the air breathes new life into body and soul; up here, up here scenes so fair all conspire to restore and make whole. The atmosphere is clean and crystal-clear; the perfect cure for all ills of the chest. The views are sublime; it’s a marvellous climate and just what doctors suggest.

 

Up here

 

For here, he sings, up here Alpine heights seemed to mock us in time’s endless stream.  Up here, up here any flight’s to be thought of, at most, like a phantom or ghost; no more than a fanciful dream.

 

Joachim has already been on TB treatment of 18 months. Eventually he will desert his duty as a TB patient and, in Act 2, will return, though not cured, to his military life.  He comes back much later in the novel — in Act 3 — and dies of TB of the larynx — not nice for a tenor.  What Hans thinks about this is revealed in his choice of music in chapter 47.

 

On the Magic Mountain, Hans is rather intrigued by the general attitude of the patients to life up here.

 

Eat, drink and be merry, they sing, for tomorrow we die!

 

Eat drink and be merry.

 

After all, many patients stay up here for years trying — or are they really trying?  — to be cured of TB.  Hans finds this enforced indolence rather alluring.

 

Also alluring is one of the female patients, Claudia Chauchat.  She comes from a republic in the Caucasus – her theme is a freedom, liberty – an approach to living that she picks up from her country.  She gives her home country the Russian pronunciation. Chechenya….

 

Chechenya

 

Hans is infatuated by Claudia, but he doesn’t know why.  She’s ill, isn’t she?

 

As a counterweight to Claudia’s erotic influence on Hans, Thomas Mann inserts Signor Ludovico Settembrini, an Italian humanist rationalist.  He also has TB, and he tries to recruit Hans to the cause of Western rational progress and Modernism.

 

Reason 1

 

The light of Human reason will illuminate the world

The thoughts of Man brought together can create a blueprint and a plan.

 

Reason 2

 

Settembrini does not approve of Hans’ attraction to Claudia’s liberated carnality.

 

As a separate counterweight to Signor Settembrini’s ideas, we also meet Father Naphta, a small ugly Catholic priest with TB and a penchant for polemical religious nihilism.  He and Settembrini have a series of dingdong battles for Hans’ paltry soul. In musical terms, Naphta is a discordant C minor and Settembrini a rather warmer E major.

 

Debate

 

In a wonderful theatrical moment towards the end, in the throes of advanced TB, Settembrini and Naphta have a real duel with pistols.

 

Preparing to return home after three weeks on the Magic Mountain, Hans develops a cough.  He goes to the doctors.

 

TB or not TB that is the question

Whether ‘tis or ‘taint, or ‘tis; now there’s no question.

 

TB or not TB

 

Yes, Hans has TB.    He will have to stay on the Magic Mountain. He is not sorry.

 

So now the stage is set for Joachim, Settembrini, the chorus of TB patients, Claudia and Naphta unwittingly to help our modest hero find his own way through a jungle of matters material, psychological and spiritual to reach his own conclusions about life, the universe and everything.

 

In chapter 47 (here we are at last), a new gadget appears on the Magic Mountain for the delight of the patients— a gramophone.  Hans is attracted.  He becomes a kind of DJ and this gives him the access to the five records that mean a great deal to him; that connect to all he has seen and heard and felt ‘up here’.  What music is it?  What did Thomas Mann choose for Hans?

 

First comes the end of Verdi’s opera Aida.  Why this?  Naphta’s inflexible, nihilistic god is heard in the priest’s condemnation of Radames.

 

Aida priests

 

Radames’ choice of Aida and true love over country is greater than those priests are — like Joachim’s fatal choice was, like Hans’s is. Aida and Radames, their entombed love, speaks to Hans. ‘You, here in this tomb?!’ Radames exclaims to Aida.

 

Aida

 

Hans sat there with folded hands. Ultimately what he felt, understood, and relished was the victorious ideality of music, of Art, of human emotions, their sublime and incontrovertible ability to gloss over the crude horrors of reality. You had only to picture coolly and calmly what was actually happening here.  Two people were being buried alive; their lungs full of the gases of the crypt, cramped with hunger, they would perish together, or even worse, one after the other; and then decay would do its unspeakable work on their bodies, until two skeletons lay there under those vaults, each indifferent and insensitive to whether it lay there alone or with another set of bones.  That was the real, factual side of the matter. For the Radames and Aida of the opera, this factual future did not exist.  They let their voices sweep in unison to the blessed sustained note of the octave, secure in the belief that Heaven was opening before them, but their longings were bathed in the light of eternity.  The consoling power of beauty to gloss things over did its listener a great deal of good and contributed much to his special fondness for this segment of his favourite concert.

 

As a balm after this terror, Hans plays a dreamy piece of music.  A piece of music that frees one from all responsibility — as the Magic Mountain did Hans. I don’t think you’ll have difficulty working out what this music is:

 

This was the dream that Hans Castorp dreamed: he was lying on his back on a meadow sparkling in the sun and strewn with colourful asters, a little mound of earth under his head, one leg pulled up slightly, the other laid across it — and, let it be noted, they were the legs of a goat.  Just for the pure joy of it, since he was quite alone on the meadow, he let his fingers play at the stops of a woodwind  he held to his lips, a clarinet or reed pipe, from which he coaxed gentle, nasal tones, one after the other, purely at random, and yet in a satisfying sequence that arose carelessly into the deep blue sky.  The gently swaying, peaceful, summery scene around him became a blend of sounds that gave ever-changing, constantly surprising harmonic meaning to his simple pipings.  He was very happy on his summer meadow. There was no responsibility, no War Tribunal of priests judging someone who’d forgotten his honour, lost it somehow.  It was depravity with the best of consciences, the idealised apotheosis of the total refusal to obey Western demands for an active life.  To our nocturnal musician’s ears, this one piece’s soothing effects made it worth many others.

 

Faun

 

Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun with Hans Castorp as Faun, played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The second of Hans Castorp’s favourite works.

 

Record number 3 is a clever choice by Mann.  Part of Bizet’s opera Carmen.  I wonder if Mann had Bizet’s characters in mind when he painted his own in his novel?  Claudia for Carmen.  Don Jose for Joachim.  Not specifically certainly, but Hans definitely hears echoes as he listens to Bizet’s music in the dead of night.  The scene is that in which Carmen tantalises Don Jose, and then scorns his need to follow the bugle call back to barracks.

 

Carmen 1

 

Carmen uses a very simple means to get her way.  She claims that if he leaves, he does not love her; and that is precisely what Jose cannot bear.  He implores her to let him speak.  She refuses.  Then he forces her to listen — a devilishly serious moment.  Ominous sounds rose from the orchestra, a gloomy, threatening scheme, which as Hans knew, moved through the whole opera until the catastrophic end, but here also served as the introduction to the little soldier’s aria — the next record.  And he put it on now.

 

Carmen 2

 

‘Oh my Carmen’, he sang.  ‘My being is yours,’ he sang in desperation, repeating the same anguished melodic phrase, which the orchestra also picked up again on its own, ascending two notes up from the dominant and with deepest fervour moving back to the fifth below.  ‘My heart is yours,’ he assured her in trite, but tenderest excess, using that same melodic phrase again; now he moved up the scale to the sixth to add, ‘and I am eternally yours’, then let his voice sink 10 intervals and in great agitation confessed, ‘Carmen, I love you’ — the last few notes agonisingly sustained above shifting harmonies, before the ‘you’ with its grace note finally resolved the chord.

 

Carmen 3

 

Also echoed in Don Jose’s song is Hans’ own fervent avowal of love sung to Claudia during the Mardi Gras celebrations at the end of Act 2: ‘I believe this dream was meant to be,’ he sang.

 

I believe

 

‘Yes, yes,’ Hans said in sombre gratitude, and put on the finale, where everyone congratulated young Jose for standing up to his officer, and thus cutting off his retreat, so that he would now have to desert the colours, just as Carmen had demanded, to his horror only moments before.

 

The chorus sang — and you could understand the words quite clearly.  ‘To roam and walk with happy pride your fatherland, the world so wide!  You shall obey your will alone.  A gift more rare than precious stone is freedom, freedom, it is your own!’

 

Carmen 4

 

Yes, yes, Hans said once more,…..

 

Claudia’s freedom, and dear friend and cousin Joachim’s fateful desertion from his duty to stay the course of his TB treatment, and Hans’s own delighted, though temporary, fall into the hands of a femme fatale are all linked in his mind with Bizet’s Carmen.

 

Hans moved on to a fourth piece, something very fine and dear to him.

 

Record 4 is also French and is also linked to Joachim.  In Charles Gounod’s opera Faust, Marguerite’s soldier brother Valentine is off to war.  He promises to pray every day for her protection.  This means a lot to Hans as it connects him — the soldier’s voice connects him with dead Joachim.

 

When to war I’m called away

I’ll remember every day

to entreat our God on high

to protect you if I die.

 

The music, Valentine’s Cavatina, from Gounod’s Faust links Hans with Joachim in a macabre way in the very next chapter of Mann’s novel.  Hans attends a séance — yet another diversion for the patients, though one of the doctors calls it a serious psychological study. Hans has asked that Joachim be called from ‘the other side’. The medium (a young girl who has TB, haven’t they all?) is not having much success. Then Hans puts on the record of Valentine’s Cavatina:

 

Valentine’s Cavatina. (The next paragraphs are spoken over the music at the times indicated)

 

(13 seconds ) No one spoke.  They listened.  Hans held the medium’s hand. The moment the music began, she took up her labours again.  She started up in her chair, shuddered, groaned, pumped, and put Hans’s slippery wet hands to her brow.

 

(1 minutes 8 seconds) The record continued to play.  It came to the middle section, the passage about battle and danger.

 

(1 minute 55 seconds) The music moved on to the finale, the reprise, with augmented orchestra swimming in massive terms: ‘O Lord of heaven, hear my prayer.’ Hans was occupied with the medium.  She reared back, drawing air in through her constricted throat, sank forward again with a long sigh, and crouched there without a sound.  One of the patients squeaked in terror. Hans did not straighten up.  There was a bitter taste in his mouth.

 

(after the end of the music) The record had come to an end.  No one turned off the machine.  Hans lifted his head, and without having to search, his eyes looked in the right direction.  There was now one more person than before in the room.  There sat Joachim.  It was Joachim with a shadowy hollow cheeks and warrior’s beard from his final days.  He sat leaning back, one leg crossed over the other.  Two deep creases were engraved on his brow between the eyes, which had sunk deep into their bony sockets, although that did not distract from the tenderness of the gaze that came from a beautiful, large, dark eyes, directed in friendly silence at Hans, at him alone.  Hans stared at the visitor in the chair.  For a moment, he thought that he would vomit.  His throat contracted and cramped for four or five fervent sobs.  ‘Forgive me!’ he whispered to himself, and then the tears came to his eyes and he saw nothing more.

 

Throughout the novel, Hans Castorp plays a dance with death, trying to get the measure of it.  Even the bones of the dead lovers in Aida are part of this. The last of his favourite records is linked with death – The Linden – or Lime – tree – Schubert’s short song from his song cycle, The Winter Journey. The tree calls a young man to suicide on its rustling branches.

 

Beside the flowing fountain

A spreading lime tree grows

And often in its shadow

I liked to dream and doze.

I carved upon its sturdy trunk

The words that love expressed.

In times of joy or sadness

It drew me there to rest.

 

But now when I walk past it

Alone at dead of night

I dare not, in the darkness,

Allow it into my sight.

But still the rustling branches

Are whispering to me

Their gentle invitation,

“Come here and rest in peace.”

 

Der Lindenbaum

 

This song, Schubert’s Der Lindenbaum, appears again right at the end of the novel. World War 1 has arrived and, up there on the Magic Mountain for seven years, Hans had cut himself off so effectively, much to Ludovico Settembrini’s chagrin, that he was not even aware that it was coming. The war brings to an end life ‘up here’, and we take our leave of Hans in a very different setting.

 

Where are we? Where has our dream brought us?  Dusk, rain, and mud, fire reddening a murky sky that bellows incessantly with dull thunder, the damp air rent by piercing, singsong whines and raging, onrushing, hell hound howls that end their arc in a splintering, spraying, fiery crash filled with groans and screams, with brass blaring, about to burst, and drumbeats urging onward, faster, faster. 

 

There is our friend, there is Hans! He is soaked through, his face is flushed, like all the others.  He runs with feet weighed down by mud, his bayoneted rifle clutched in his hand.  What’s this?  He’s singing?  The way a man sings to himself in moments of dazed, thoughtless excitement, without even knowing — and he uses what tatters of breath he has left to sing to himself:

 

‘I carved upon its sturdy trunk the words that love expressed’

 

He stumbles.  No, he has thrown himself on his stomach at the approach of a howling hound of hell, a large explosive shell.  He lies there, face in the cool muck, legs spread, feet twisted until the heels press the Earth.  Laden with horror, this product of science gone berserk crosses 30 yards in front of him, buries itself in the ground, and explodes like the devil himself, bursts inside the earth with ghastly superstrength and casts up a house-high fountain of soil, fire, iron, lead, and dismembered humanity. 

 

Explosion

 

He gets up, he limps and stumbles forward on mud-laden feet, singing thoughtlessly:

 

‘But still the rustling branches Are whispering to me

Their gentle invitation, “Come here and rest in peace.” ‘

 

And so, in the tumult, in the rain, in the dusk, Hans disappears from sight.

 

Epilogue

 

No more to tell

We break the spell

And say farewell.

 

And it is farewell from Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, and farewell from me, Tony Westwood, and farewell from our Late Literary Lunches. Thank you very much for listening, and sharing these literary meals. I suppose there might be some left-overs: we’ll have to see.  Happy reading and happy listening.

Late Literary Lunch – British

Hello.  Welcome to the second of three late literary lunches hosted here on Fine Music Radio by me, Tony Westwood.  On the menu, as last week, pieces of music that appear in works of literature.  Last week was an all Beethoven programme taking in Tolstoy, E. M. Forster, Aldous Huxley, Thomas Mann and Anthony Burgess.  This week we are dining on music found in English novels of the last 100 years.  The fare is more lightweight than last week, I think, but no less tasty for that.  I have to admit to a magpie approach to reading, so if your favourite or iconic English author is not here, please forgive me.  We ended last week’s lunch with a taste of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, and I’m going to allow Burgess first course honours today.

 

In 1991, Burgess presented to the literary world a rather sideways tribute to man of the moment in that year — Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was celebrating the 200th anniversary of his premature death.  Under the title ‘Mozart and the Wolf Gang’, Burgess incorporated a short play, opera libretto, internal dialogue and – our focus for today –  a curious attempt at turning Mozart’s 40th Symphony into words.  Two contemporaries of Mozart Louis XV1 and Marie Antoinette in Versailles feature in this ‘word symphony’.  Burgess is not setting tunes to music; rather he imagines the Rococo scenes using the structures of a well-known musical phrases and structure of the 40th — even the modulations.  The first movement starts with husband-and-wife, and by the time we’ve got to movement four, execution in revolutionary Paris is approaching.  We now present a melange of Burgess’s words and Mozart’s music – melange sounds like a pudding, a mixture of blancmange and meringue?  — but this is our first course in today’s late literary lunch.

 

First movement (Imagine the King pacing his room, thinking anxiously in G minor about Marie Antoinette in her boudoir, but not unaware of the ferment in the streets. It starts with the unrest of the viola accompaniment)

 

Play repeats of 1st bars

 

The square cut pattern of the carpet.  Square cut carpet’s pattern.  Pattern the cut square carpet.  Stretching from open door to windows. 

 

First theme

 

He himself, he himself, he himself trod in the glum morning. From shut casement to open door and back, to and to and back.

 

Exposition to E flat bit – interrupt

 

Switch to E flat major:

Triumph of unassailable order.  Versailles unassailable.  Everything in its, everything in his place.  Place.  Place.

 

Up to 2nd subject

 

She in room drinks off chocolate.  She in bed still.  Full sun catches elegant body.  Clothed in satin sheets, in wool coverlet.  In square fourposter lies.

 

2nd subject to end of exposition

 

Fast forward to end of movement: They themselves, they themselves, they themselves tread bare boards, uncarpeted, unrugged

 

Coda (start with rhythm) (34 secs)

 

That will do for movement 1.

 

Second movement (Royal family rocking gently on a boat in E flat major, starving Parisians visible to rive gauche and droit)

 

Start of 2nd movement

 

A black day is coming.

 

Black day phrase

 

The black day is coming for you, me and everyone.

 

Quite soon now phrase

 

 How soon now? 

 

Shadows closing phrase

 

shadows closing

 

Last phrase for 2nd movement

 

Third movement – G minor Minuet

 

They ply their instruments too swiftly.  They play this minuet so sadly.  The sadness is built into the music.  They play faster because leisure is eroded.  The last ball a sad ball.  The dancers, our guests, dancing in willed agitation.

 

Play Minuet without repeats.

 

But on a sour cadence the dance ends.

 

Cadence music

 

Fourth movement – Waiting for execution, the crowds seethe.

 

Well, the tumbrils are coming.  The words suggest tumbling, rumbling, thunder. 

 

First 15 bars

 

A loud cry the crowds, cry aloud the crowds, the crowds cry aloud.

 

To second subject

 

And she is safe.  Her winsomeness appealed, a peal of silver bells her winsomeness.  The sun beamed on her release.

 

Second subject in Recapitulation to End

 

Mozart’s 40th Symphony according to Anthony Burgess in Mozart and the Wolf Gang. ‘Gibberish’ as one arm of his internal dialogue calls his attempt at turning the symphony into words.

 

I think that, with this work, Burgess was attempting to say that we should not treat Mozart differently from other composers. His music, though perfect and always so much more beautiful than his contemporaries who had the same musical means to work with, was connected to what was happening in the world outside, and can’t be taken as other-worldly and separate. We will come back to Mozart and we will come back to Burgess at the end of the programme, – and I urge you to stay because we’re going to have an ending unlike anything heard in Cape Town ever before.

 

Vikram Seth made quite a splash with his 1999 novel ‘An Equal Music’.  The workings of a string quartet form the core of the novel, with a second violinist, Michael by name, being the narrator and main character.  Music is the golden thread of this novel — it accounts for much of the emotional language of the story, the characters and us as readers.  For our literary lunch, I will highlight two chamber works that provide emotional nodes in Seth’s story.

 

Schubert’s Trout Quintet is being rehearsed for a performance in the famous and daunting Vienna Musikverein. Only the reader and Michael the narrator know that the pianist, Julia whom he loved, lost and loves again, is deaf. Things go well – she gets all the cues that make for exceptional chamber ensemble playing – until they come to the Scherzo:

 

Complete impasse. The problem lies in the very first phrase.

 

Play first phrase

 

There are three presto quavers for violin and viola followed by a down beat crotchet, on which everyone else crashes in.

 

Play first phrase again

 

They try it again and again, but it is never exactly coordinated. Julia, I can tell is getting more and more distraught, the others more and more puzzled. ‘Let’s take a five minute break,’ says the leader, ‘I need a cigarette.’

 

I hope nobody is smoking over our literary lunch, but let’s take a 5 minute break from words and tuck into our second course – the Scherzo from Schubert’s Trout Quintet. This is the Fish course, I suppose! Raise fish forks, come in together……

 

Trout Quintet Scherzo (4 minutes)

 

The Scherzo 3rd movement from Schubert’s Trout Quintet. Emil Gilels and the Amadeus Quartet.

 

Apart from his love affair with deaf Julia, Michael is in love with his violin – only it is not his violin. It is on loan to him from an old lady from his home town in Yorkshire, Mrs Formby (now there’s anan original name!). Unlike his parents Mrs Formby shares Michael’s love for music. As a child he was enchanted when she played him a record of ‘The Lark Ascending’ by Vaughan Williams, and the lark (the real bird on the Yorkshire moors) becomes a link between them and also Michael’s link with his home. The violin represents the lark in this work, trilling high in the sky.

 

Lark Ascending excerpt.

 

I tell Mrs Formby about my walk on the moors yesterday and the larks. Behind her thick spectacles her eyes grow wider, and she smiles. “He rises and begins to round,’ she prompts. ‘He drops the silver chain of sound,’ I continue, and we recite it in alternate lines, unerringly. ‘Till lost on his aerial wings,’ she say at last, and sighs. I am silent, and after a while, almost inaudibly, she herself murmurs the final line.

 

It feels churlish to tell Vikram Seth that it is ‘rings’ not ‘wings’ in George Meredith’s poem. We must forgive him as he allows Michael to gain the violin through a tax-free bequest in Mrs Formby’s will. Michael goes one last time to the wintry Yorkshire moor, takes out the violin and plays a few bars of the Vaughan Williams.

 

Lark ending ( 1 minute)

 

The violinist in The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams was David Juritz.

 

Now after end-of-20th-century London, we are headed to 17th century Denmark.  From S. to T.  in a novelist alphabet — that is, from Seth to Tremain — Rose Tremain.  And from one composer of beautiful but often gloomy music, Schubert, to another composer known for his misery — he even gloried in it — John Dowland.  In Music and Silence, Rose Tremain places in fictional lutenist named Peter Claire in the historical court of King Christian the fourth of Denmark.  The music Claire plays (and his angelic looks) provides a balm for the King’s ills.  ‘How does music do this?,’ asks the King, and then he answers his own question:

 

We do not really know where music comes from or why, or when the first note of it was heard.  And we shall never know.  It is the human soul, speaking without words.  But it seems to kill pain — this is an honest fact. I yearn, by the way, for everything to be transparent, honest and true.  So why do you not play me one of Dowland’s Lachrymae?  Economy of means was his gift and this I dote upon. His music leaves no room to exhibitionism on the part of the performer.

 

The music of Dowland provides some of Claire’s repertoire for the King.  Dowland himself spent some time in this court — perhaps providing Tremain with a nugget of an idea on which she elaborated this story.  Dowland’s brief sojourn there is discussed by the other musicians in the King’s hard-pressed orchestra:

 

Dowland couldn’t transcend his own pitiful life, that is all. He wrote good music, but he could not make use of it, in his soul. In that respect, his labours were pointless.

 

So here is some of that pointless creativity – Dowland’s composition, Lachrymae – ‘Tears’,  if translated into English – and this is how they sound as they fall.

 

Dowland – Lachrymae (5 minutes)

 

It may be that the conditions in which Dowland had to play at King Christian’s Court in Denmark led to such sadness in that work –  his Lachrymae, played by John Odette.  All modern day pit orchestral players need to listen to how Tremain describes the place King Christian’s orchestra played in before they complain.

 

Emerging from the tunnel, Peter Claire finds himself in a large vaulted cellar, lit by flares from two iron torches bolted to the walls.  ‘Here we are, ‘  the Music Master says.  ‘ this is the place.  Do you note how cold it is?  ‘ I would expect a cellar to be cold,’ said Peter Claire.  ‘So you’ll get used to it?  Is that what you’re predicting?’  ‘Get used to it?’ protested Peter. ‘This’ said the Music Master ‘is where we play.’ Peter Claire looks disbelievingly. ‘ What purpose can an orchestra serve in a cellar?  There is no one to hear us.’  ‘We are directly under the throne room. There is an assemblage of brass ducts or pipes let into the vaults of this cellar and each one fashioned almost like a musical instrument itself, cunningly curved and waisted so that the sounds we make here are transmitted without distortion into the space above and all the king’s visitors marvel when they hear it. We can freeze to death, it’s of no consequence to him.’

 

Dowland however, as with this Tremain story, is not all misery, so here’s something light to raise the spirits of a Danish king and a lunching listener.

 

Mrs Winter’s pieces – (2 minutes 40 seconds)

 

Three Dowland lute trifles – Mrs Winter’s Jump, Mrs Winter’s Thing and Mrs Winter’s Nothing (I kid you not!) as played by John Odette, giving us the sounds of music in the era that Rose Tremain set her novel Music and Silence. Music and Silence would have been a good title for Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music, perhaps, given its theme of hearing loss in a musician.

 

And now – our grand finale, the promised memorable last course to this week’s literary lunch. Welcome back our chef, Anthony Burgess. What have you cooked up, sir? ‘The End of the World News.’ Novel of 1982. I can imagine Burgess listening to the BBC World Service in Malaysia and hearing a newsreader ending the hourly new bulletin for the umpteenth time. ‘That is the end of the World News’, and something clicking in his brain and he changes the emphasis in the phrase subtly to – that is the end of the world news. The end of the world. In his novel, Burgess takes us through the final travails of a world that is going to be hit by a mighty asteroid, nicknamed Lynx in the story. He entwines stories of Sigmund Freud and Trotsky into it, but we will concentrate on the Apocalypse for our lunch, if you don’t mind. At the last minute, before the grand destruction of the world, a few people escape from the doomed Earth on a space ship.

 

‘Let us at least, before the earth ends,’ said Dr Adams, ‘hear some of earth’s music.’ She took from her shoulder bag a musicasette. ‘All I have,’ she said.

 

‘What is it?’

 

Well, dear lunch guest, the ultimate desert island disc question?

 

What they play – what Burgess chooses for them to play as the earth is pulverised before them, is the final movement of Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony. And I have to say that he was right on target. There is no higher peak in music. And Cape Town, we are all going to do this movement together, we are going to claim this human high point as ours together as the earth we love disappears. Here is how. This movement is made up of many short phrases that miraculous Mozart weaves together with the precision of a physicist and the art of a grand master into the most complex yet natural synthesis. I am going to give a phrase each to suburbs of Cape Town, and, wherever you live, I want you to sing yours out each time it appears. That way Cape Town makes a symphony, this wonderful symphony, stating that we stand together in Art, in Mozart, whatever befall, come death and destruction. Fine Music is eternal.

 

(Piano version plus one in context for each area)

 

So Milnerton up to Atlantis, here is your phrase. Just four notes.

 

1st theme piano

 

Again in context –

 

(1st four note phrase orchestra)

 

Got it. Right

 

Now Parow out to Kraaifontein and taking in Kuil’s River, here is yours:

 

2nd theme piano

 

Which also appears in this form

 

(second part of the theme, orchestra)

 

Listen – dahdahdahdaaa, diddlediddle dum

 

And Rondebosch to Tokai:

 

3rd theme. Dah-di-dah and quavers. Piano

 

Then orchestra

 

Muizenberg to Simonstown, here’s yours:

 

4th theme – piano

 

Do get the trill right please!

 

4th theme – orchestra

 

Now Central Cape Town along the N2 to Khayelitsha on the right and Eerste Rivier on the left, listen to your phrase.

 

5th theme – piano

 

Tthree notes –

 

5th theme – orchestra

 

Up down up- but very important ones.

 

Hold on to that, please while we move to Somerset West, Strand Gordon’s Bay and the long antennae of Pringle Bay. Here is yours – on the oboes.

 

6th theme – piano

 

 Got it, Pringle, just four bouncy notes?

 

6th theme – orchestra

 

Sing the phrase

 

Panorama and her neighbours up to Parklands, this is yours.

 

7th theme – piano

 

Although it is the same as the first three notes of Rondebosch’s, it often appears on its own; a military rum-ti-tum.

 

7th theme – orchestra

 

Rondebosch to Tokai, please remember that your tune

 

3rd theme-  orchestra

 

sometimes appears upside down

 

3rd theme inversion

 

so be ready!

 

Don’t panic folks. I have arranged with the orchestra to repeat the Exposition – the part where Mozart sets out all these themes. So you will have a chance to tune in if you don’t know the piece.

 

Now we are ready to begin. Oh, sorry, Atlantic Seaboard, we seem to have left you out, but you already live on another planet, you know!. And internet listeners, join in with whatever phrase you like.

 

Lead us, Mr Burgess, as we watch the destruction of earth,

 

From the four corners of the ceiling music poured – the essence of human divinity or divine humanity made manifest through the gross accidents of bowed catgut and blown reeds. They saw Lynx and earth meet, and the first patch of earth to catch the blow was the northern Rockies, which must already be leaping with stupid love to the claws of Lynx. The moon was a ring and, a greater ring, pulverised earth spun already in perfect concentricity, luminous dust. Mozart was part of that dusty ring, but, miracle, Mozart was also here. The rhythms of Mozart bore them on into space, the beginnings of their, our, journey.

 

Now Cape Town, make the wonders of the Jupiter Symphony your own. Sing, sing Mozart together. You are first, Milnerton. Get ready to join in, everyone else. We are off. To destruction and to the infinite simultaneously.

 

Mozart Jupiter – 4th movt

 

Wow – well done, Cape Town! That was magnificent! What a way to end our literary lunch, with the whole Table (capital T as in Table Mountain) singing Mozart’s Jupiter symphony thanks to novelist Anthony Burgess, and all conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras and accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Next week our literary lunch takes us up another mountain, so I’ll see you up there then. Goodbye from me, Tony Westwood. Have a wonderful musical week.

 

Final bars of Jupiter IV to close.

 

Late Literary Lunch – Beethoven

Late Literary Lunch 1. Broadcast on Fine Music Radio in Cape Town January 2010

 

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. This is Tony Westwood on behalf of Fine Music Radio inviting you to take your seats for our late literary lunch. This is the first of three occasions when you are invited to sample the music that appears in various works of literature. People who know and enjoy good music are aware that composers often use literary works as their inspiration. Goethe’s Faust appears in many guises as do the works of William Shakespeare. Well, in these three lunch gatherings, we are going to turn this on its head and have examples where writers have used pieces of music to enhance what they are writing – to add depth or character to a particular scene or theme in a novel or play.

 

In this first programme – in other words, for this first lunch, we will see how the works of one composer – a very famous composer – have appeared in a number of novels. In the second programme, we will take a particular century in a particular country, and for the third programme or lunch to which you are invited, we shall explore one particular writer, one particular novel – indeed, a single chapter in that novel. I hope you will be able to join in our literary lunches – all three of them. So to the fare for today’s lunch:

 

If one was asked to guess which composer’ music is likely to appear in works of literature, it wouldn’t require much thought to realise that it was going to be Ludwig van Beethoven. That Colossus of humanity is very likely to come to mind when a writer wants to add depth to his writing.

 

So we’ll start in Russia: Leo Tolstoy and a small novel of his that takes its title from one of Beethoven’s works: the Kreutzer sonata for violin and piano. Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata is a troubling exploration of the relationship between men and women. It is the story of a marriage founded on the unequal relations between a man and a woman where, according to the main protagonist (Poz-dny-shev by name) who tells his story to a hapless fellow passenger in a train, a man’s need for sex and the biological consequences of it – in other words children and breast-feeding for the woman – inevitably lead, if chastity is maintained by the man, to a chasm between the partners. The woman (if freed from recurrent child-bearing) tends to coquettishness  and the man to jealousy. Enter music. I quote: “she again enthusiastically took up the piano which she had quite abandoned, and it all began from that’. Enter a male violinist, an acquaintance of the husband. She and he play together. A private concert is arranged. Picture the scene. Through the eyes of a jealous husband: ‘a couple are occupied with the noblest of arts – music. This demands a certain nearness and there is nothing reprehensible in that, but only a stupid jealous husband can see anything undesirable in it, yet everybody knows that it is by these means, those very pursuits especially of music that the greater part of the adultery in our society occurs.’ So here Tolstoy uses Beethoven to encourage an adulterous relationship in the eyes of a very jealous man: ‘then I remember how they glanced at one another, turned to look at the audience who were seating themselves, said something to one another and began. He took the first chords. His face grew serious stern and sympathetic and, listening to the sounds he produced, he touched the strings with careful fingers. [put the beginning in here – 16’] The piano answered him. The music began [put the piano reply in here – 11’] Do you know the first presto? You do? he cried. It is a terrible thing that sonata and especially that part.’ In Tolstoy’s story the Kreutzer sonata first movement leads to murder: the man murders his wife. So at the risk of setting off the occasional murder around Cape Town, we are now going to listen to the first movement complete Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata. Yasha Heifetz on the violin and Brooks Smith on the piano.

 

[Play 1st movt, Kreutzer Sonata – 10 min]

 

The Kreutzer Sonata by Beethoven, first movement. Yasha Heifetz, the violinist. Poz-dny-shev in the Kreutzer Sonata by Tolstoy was very angry that Beethoven knew why he wrote that, but for the listener like you and me that music only agitates and doesn’t lead to the conclusion.

 

Further down the lunch menu today, we will meet another protagonist for whom music does some rather unpleasant things. Poz-dny-shev although so worked up about that first movement is rather dismissive of the rest of the Sonata: ‘after that Allegro, they played the beautiful but common and unoriginal andante with trite variations and the very weak finale.’ So I think we’ll miss them out today.

 

Now –  for the second course in our literary lunch – our late literary lunch. We move still in the company of Ludwig van Beethoven to another writer; from Tolstoy to EM Forster and from a sonata to a symphony.

 

In Chapter 5 of Howard’s End Forster takes some of his characters to a concert – appropriately for Chapter 5, it is a performance of Beethoven’s 5th symphony. It is mostly seen through the eyes of young Helen Schlegel whose idealistic sensibilities animate much of the novel.

 

‘It will be generally admitted that Beethoven’s fifth Symphony is the most sublime noise that has ever penetrated into the ear of man. All sorts and conditions are satisfied by it. Whether you are like Mrs Munt and tap surreptitiously when the tunes come, of course not so as to disturb the others. Or like Helen who can see heroes and shipwrecks in the music’s flood or like Margaret who can only see the music . Or like brother Tibby who is profoundly versed in counterpoint and holds a full score open on his knee.  In any case, the passion of your life becomes more vivid and you are bound to admit that such a noise is cheap of two shillings. [Play a little of the first movement – 47’] The Andante had begun: very beautiful but bearing a family like this to all the other Andante’s that Beethoven had written and Helen’s mind rather disconnecting the heroes and shipwrecks of the first movement from the heroes and goblins of the third.  She heard the tune through once and then her attention wandered. [2nd movement 1st statement – 56’] And then  Beethoven started decorating his tune so she heard him through once more, and then she smiled. [2nd movement variation – 54’] How  Interesting that row of people was; What diverse influences had gone into their making. Then Beethoven after humming and hawing the great sweetness said ‘Heyhoe’ [End of 2nd movement – 27’] and the Andante came to an end.  Helen said to her aunt, ‘now comes the wonderful movement. First the goblins and a trio of elephants dancing. The music started with the goblins walking quietly over the universe from end to end. [Start of 3rd movement – 1m55’]. A trio of elephants dancing. [Trio – 1m2’]. After the interlude of elephant dancing the goblins returned. [Recap of Scherzo – 1m7’] Her brother raised his finger. It was the transitional passage from the drum, for, as if things had gone too far. Beethoven took hold of the goblins and made do what he wanted. He appeared in person. He gave them a little push and they began to walk in a major key instead of in a minor. [Start Interlude – 21’] And then he blew with his mouth and they were scattered. Gusts of splendour, gods and demigods contending on the field of battle. Magnificent victory, magnificent death. [start of 4th movement – 1m 50’]. And the goblins? – they have not really been there at all? Beethoven knew better. The goblins really had been. They might return and they did. It was as if the splendour of life might boil over and waste to steam and froth. In its dissolution one heard the terrible ominous note and a goblin with increased malignity walked quietly over the universe from end to end. Panic and emptiness. [4th movt 2nd excerpt – 58’] Beethoven chose to make it all right in the end. He blew with his mouth for the second time, and again the goblins were scattered, He brought back the gusts of splendour, the heroism, the youth, the magnificence of life and death and amidst vast roarings of superhuman joy he led his 5th symphony to its conclusion. [End of Beethoven 5 4th movt – 5m10’] But the goblins were there. They could return. He had said so bravely, and that is why one can trust Beethoven when he says other things.

 

An interesting way to listen to Beethoven’s overworked 5th symphony, I hope – through the eyes of one of English literature’s colourful characters. Helen Shlegel in EM Forster’s Howard’s End.

 

The next Beethoven work in this literary lunch appears in at least two novels — one English and one German.  The work is the last movement of Beethoven’s last piano Sonata Opus 111.  Beethoven’s last utterance in a major musical form — very tempting for a novelist.

 

Aldous Huxley in Antic Hay, a novel of the 1920s, brings this set of variations on a slow C major theme — Beethoven calls it an Arietta — a small Air or song — into a conversation between Theodore Gumbril (the young inventor of the pneumatic trousers – believe it or not) and one of three women he is involved with.  They are in Kew Gardens in London, sitting on the lawns:

 

‘It’s like the Arietta, don’t you think?’ said Emily suddenly, ‘ the Arietta of Opus 111.’ And she hummed first bars of the air.  [1st 8 bars – 22’] ‘ Don’t you feel it’s like that?  ‘

 

‘ What’s like that?’ 

 

‘Everything,’ said Emily.  ‘ Today, I mean.  You and me.  These gardens — ‘ and she went on humming. [2nd 8 bars – 26’]

 

Gumbril shook his head.  ‘Too simple for me,’ he said.

 

Emily laughed.  ‘Ah, but then think how impossible it gets a little farther on.’ She agitated fingers wildly, as though she were trying to play the impossible passages.  ‘It begins easily for the sake of poor imbecile like me; but it goes on, it goes on, more and more fully and subtly and abstrusely and embracingly.  But it’s still the same movement.’

 

Huxley breaks the idyll with a mad dash to the Albert Hall for Mozart’s string quintet in G. Minor — but that’s next week’s lunch.  So – ‘subtly, abstrusely, embracingly’.

 

Thomas Mann is other writer who inserted Beethoven’s Arietta into a novel.  Thomas Mann, who famously said that if anything was worth writing about, it was worth writing about at length.  So we can expect a few more adverbs on top of Huxley’s to describe Beethoven’s last piano Sonata movement.  Mann’s novel is Dr Faustus, a pseudo-biography of composer Adrian Leverkuhn who, after a pact with the devil and a single visit to a prostitute, invents a Schoenberg-like harmonic structure for his compositions and gets syphilis of the brain.  Mann illustrates Leverkuhn’s early musical exposure with a lecture on Beethoven Opus 111 that he and his biographer attend as teenagers.  The lecture is given by his stuttering music teacher.  His question: why has Opus 111 only got two movements?

 

After the first movement, the teacher laid his hands on his lap, was quiet for a moment, and then said ‘ Here it comes!’ and began the variations movement.  The Arietta theme, destined for vicissitudes for which its idyllic innocence it would seem not to be born, is presented at once, and announced in 16 bars, [Whole theme – 1m26’] reducible to a motif which appears at the end of the first half like a brief soul-cry. [3 notes – 8’] Simply that.  What now happens to this mild utterance, rhythmically, harmonically, contrapuntally (a few more adverbs for us) to this pensive, subdued formulation, with what its master blesses and to what condemns it, into what black nights and dazzling flashes, crystal spheres wherein coldness and heat, repose and ecstasy are one and the same, he flings it down and lifted up, or that one may well call vast, strange, extravagantly magnificent, without thereby giving it a name, because it is quite truly nameless; and with labouring hands the teacher played us all those enormous transformations, singing at the same time with the greatest of violence and mingling his singing with shouts.

 

Well, I would sing over the music, but, after all those literary descriptions, it is time to play it.  Listen out for where, quoting Mann again, ‘ there is a wide gap between bass and treble, between the right and left-hand, and a moment comes, and utterly extreme situation, when the poor little motif seems to hover alone and forsaken above a giddy yawning abyss ‘. Also (this is me again) the fourth variation has all the syncopation of a 1920s jitterbug — and maybe that’s one subliminal reason to its inclusion in the Huxley’s Antic Hay??  Beethoven Opus 111 the whole slow movement: As Beethoven demanded – very slow, very simple and singing……

 

[2nd movement of Opus 111 complete]

 

The teacher turned his face towards us and, in a few words, brought to an end his lecture on why Beethoven had not written in the third movement to Opus 111.  We had only needed, he said, to hear the piece to answer the question ourselves.  A third movement — impossible!

 

With that and thanking Ivo Pogarelitch, we’ll take our leave of Thomas Mann’s Dr Faustus and Beethoven.  Fast forward to 1962.  ‘ What’s it going to be, eh?’.  The first words of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange.  Classical music and Beethoven in particular appear in a very equivocal light in this novel.  15-year-old narrator Alex’s pleasure in extreme violence is enhanced by the sound of classical music.  Pop music is too insipid for Alex.  A chemical cure for his violent tendencies produces a dreadful nausea every time he hears Beethoven, because the triumphant last movement of his fifth Symphony that we heard earlier in more innocent circumstances in the EM Forster accompanies the scenes of Nazi terror that are part of the aversive therapy Alex is subjected to.  This puts the reader in a morally dubious position: we want Alex to be able to enjoy the music we love, but are only too glad that he is no longer carving up old ladies.  (Another slice of beef anyone?) I am not sure that Burgess resolves that, but he does give me as host and presenter a way out.  After being used as a political pawn, Alex gets his musical appreciation back and plunges back into the Beethoven that gave him the dangerous emotional highs of his younger days.  I will read an extract in the teenage slang in which he writes.  Burgess allows me to play out with the calm of the slow movement of his Choral Symphony Number 9, and not the Ode to Joy that accompanies one of the most sickening scenes of his novel.  This allows you to digest the end of your late literary lunch in peace.  I hope to see you for lunch next week.  Have a horrorshow week!

 

‘The Ninth,’ I said. ‘The glorious Ninth.’

And the Ninth it was, O my brothers. Everybody began to leave nice and quiet while I laid there with my glazzies closed, slooshying the lovely music. The Minister of the Inferior said: ‘Good good boy,’ patting me on the pletcho, then he ittied off. Only one veck was left, saying: ‘Sign here , please.’ I opened my glazzies up to sign, not knowing what I was signing and not, O my brothers, caring either. Then I was left alone with the glorious Ninth of Ludwig van.

 

Oh, it was gorgeosity and yumyumyum. When it came to the Scherzo [short extract of Scherzo – 4’] I could viddy myself very clear running and running on like very light and mysterious nogas, carving the whole litso of the creeching world with my cut-throat britva. And there was the slow movement [bring in the slow movement under the speech] and the lovely last singing movement still to come. I was cured all right.

 

[Beethoven Symphony No 9: 3rd movt ending – length determined by total programme time]

 

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