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.