NEW YORK – IVAN ILIĆ – BARGEMUSIC 11th-13th Oct 2019

Contemplating the Muse

No 20 – Linda Ibbotson

Plato“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.”  

Here, in New York City, listening to wonderful pianist Ivan Ilić in an authentic former coffee barge moored in Brooklyn. Give flight to your imagination –  the slapping of waves against the bow, the sporadic hoot of the river traffic, feel  the swaying of the barge. From the Steinway, notes shaped like leaves gently rise and fall into the East River as the Manhattan skyline pulls down the night.

Ivan Ilić plays with clarity and sensitivity, powerful and yet gentle at the same time which I find rare and expresses an enthusiasm for research that is contagious! His programme of concerts ran over three days and was tailored to suit all tastes, from the contemporary such as Hans Otte, Scott Wollschleger, Keeril Makan, Melaine Dalibert, Satie, and Debussy to the more traditional Haydn, Beethoven and Reicha.

The New Yorker – https://www.newyorker.com/goings-on-about-town/classical-music/ivan-ilic

BARGEMUSIC

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BARGEMUSIC is a magnificent legendary classical music venue established in 1977 with approx 200 concerts every year  and is moored at Fulton Ferry Landing close to The River Cafe restaurant. The words of Walt Whitman’s poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry inscribed in the surrounding railings. It was the vision and passion of concert violinist Olga Bloom who played in orchestras such as the American Symphony Orchestra and numerous Broadway musicals. It is, from 2005 in the caring hands of her dear friend Russian violinist Mark Peskanov, President and Artistic Director. From BARGEMUSIC Website – “Mark emigrated from Odessa to the USA aged 15. His phenomenal musicianship won him both the Aspen and Juilliard concerto competitions, bringing him to the notice of Isaac Stern and Mstislav Rostropovich and rocketing him into the top echelons of the music world.”

BARGEMUSIC WEBSITEhttps://www.bargemusic.org/

 This was Olga’s third barge as the other two were not suitable for various reasons. It took 10 years to find a suitable mooring and the interior cherry wood paneling alone, took a year to fetch piece by piece from a Staten Island Ferry in her Volkswagon. She sadly passed away in 2011. 

reviews & press

New York Times –  A Music Hall Sways To Its Own Beat – Mark Peskanov…. “has added a new-music series (Here and Now), an early-music series (There and Then) and jazz concerts to the diet of standard repertory solo and chamber works that has been Bargemusic’s main fare” –

New York Times – Reflection of a Dream- Olga Bloom –  “There are many wonderful musicians who work so hard and never get a chance to be heard. I wanted to create a place for them to perform in an environment that would nurture, rather than destroy, their creativity.”

What an accomplishment!  See full interview with Olga. All links at the end of this article. 

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Mark Peskanov

IVAN ILIĆ

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Thrilled to see my photographs published in LIMELIGHT! – A ★★★★★ review of  Ivan Ilić’s concert at BARGEMUSIC, NYC. This beautifully written poetic review by Clive Paget expresses and encompasses every musical moment!
“Ilić remains trance-like, his touch light as a falling leaf.” LIMELIGHT – AUSTRALIA’S CLASSICAL MUSIC AND ARTS MAGAZINE. 

Hans Otte’s Book of Sounds (Bargemusic, Brooklyn)

From Ivan’s website – Serbian American pianist Ivan Ilić enjoys a unique place in today’s musical landscape thanks to his unconventional repertoire and multifaceted approach. By combining performing with writing, producing radio and video, and drawing upon key interdisciplinary experiences with visual art, acting, and the neuroscience of learning, he develops new audiences for unfamiliar music.

His eclecticism is reflected in his musical projects, which range from the notoriously difficult Chopin/Godowsky studies, to the delicate abstraction of Morton Feldman, to his most recent enterprise: the rediscovery of music by Beethoven’s Czech friend and contemporary, Antoine Reicha (1770-1836).

Ivan’s Websitehttp://www.ivancdg.com/

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Incredible technical skills and dexterity illuminated here in this moment captured during the beautiful and contemplative  Hans Otte – Book of Sounds. 

Ilić earned degrees in mathematics and music at the University of California Berkeley before moving to Paris with a Hertz Fellowship. He then studied at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris, where he received a Premier Prix, and the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris for postgraduate work. The City of Paris sponsored his first recording.

He has written about music for the websites of GramophoneBBC Music MagazineMusic & Literature and Limelight and has also co-produced several 5-hour radio series for Swiss Radio RTS Espace 2. For 2019-2021 he is Ulster University’s International Musician in Residence.

  Brooklyn Bridge, a perfect backdrop!

Programme

OCT 11th –

  • Hans Otte (1926-2007) The Book of Sounds (1979-1982)

Oct 12th – 

  • Keeril Makan (b. 1972) Capture Sweetness (2018)
  • Scott Wollschleger (b. 1980) Music without Metaphor (2013); Gas Station Canon Song (2017/18);New Work (2019)
  • Melaine Dalibert (b. 1979) Litanie (2019, *World Premiere); Danse (2019, *World Premiere); Percolations (2019, *US premiere); Etude II (2019, *US premiere)
         & works by Debussy and Satie

Oct 13th –

  • Haydn Symphony No. 44 in E minor (transcribed for solo piano by C.D. Stegmann)
  • Antoine Reicha Four Fugues from Etudes, Op. 97
  • Haydn Capriccio in G major, on “Acht Sauschneider müssen sein”
  • Beethoven Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 (“Pathétique”)

New York Classical Review

Sounds on the water with Otte work at Bargemusic

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In 2016 he began focusing on Reicha’s neglected piano music, which he is recording in a 5-album series for Chandos Records. Volume 1 of the Reicha Rediscovered series, co-sponsored by Swiss Radio RTS and the Palazzetto Bru Zane in Venice, led to a surge of interest in Reicha’s music. Editorial and reviews in the British, German, French, and Italian classical media raised the same question: how is it possible that such remarkable music by a friend of Beethoven, a student of Haydn, and the counterpoint teacher of Liszt, Berlioz, Franck has never been recorded before? After the score languished in the French National Library for over 200 years, a piece from Volume 1 was listened to over 1,000,000 times on Apple Music. This led to a short documentary series about Reicha written and presented by Ilić, which in turn led to a widely-shared feature story in The New York Times. Volume 2 of the series was released in September 2018, with prominent media coverage in Germany, France, Luxembourg, the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Korea and Australia. In a five-star review, BBC Music Magazine wrote “In this pianist, Reicha’s music has the best possible advocate”.

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A wonderful rapport with the audience and explanation of his concert programme  

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Ivan Ilić’s most recent recording – three Haydn Symphonies transcribed for solo piano by Carl David Stegmann – was CD of the week of Classic FM in the UK, Radio Classique in France and Rondo Magazin in Germany. The Sunday Times called the performances “cleanly articulated and beautifully coloured”; International Piano called it “a fascinating disc with terrific sound”.

A fantastic review by LIMELIGHThttps://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/reviews/haydn-stegmann-symphonies-ivan-ilic/

There is a wonderful intriguing story regarding the discovery of these transcriptions in a Cologne trunk

Where have these transcriptions been Haydn?

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Awash in the semi darkness a very attentive and appreciative audience, the lighting reminiscent of a Caravaggio masterpiece.

The Steinway & Sons securely bolted to the floor!

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Ivan’s CD in 2012 featured the complete Chopin Studies for the left hand by Leopold Godowsky, a tour-de-force of musicianship and virtuosity. The recording was described as “a major achievement” and “breathtaking” by BBC Radio 3. It featured prominently in The Daily Telegraph [CD of the Week], German MDR Figaro [Top 5 CD], and Czech Radio [5 stars]. The album was broadcast widely across 6 continents. Videos of Ivan Ilić performing Godowsky on YouTube attracted over 500,000 views. Shortly afterwards, he made his acting début in two French short films: Luc Plissonneau’s Les Mains and Benoît Maire’s Le Berger.

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It was wonderful that both Scott Wollschleger – photographed here- and Keeril Makan were present to hear their compositions!
Ivan also played compositions by French composer Melaine Dalibert.

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Lower Manhattan, a theatrical backdrop and a contrast between the commercial district and Bargemusic. Seen below through the picture windows Olga fitted!

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Les secrets de l’Adagio de la “Sonate Pathétique” de Ludwig van Beethoven – Ivan Ilic RTS – Radio Télévision Suisse

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I relish a sense of adventure and spent time between concerts discovering Brooklyn, breakfasted with hearty appetite; delicious cinnamon porridge and berries at the infamous The River Cafe, felt the wonder in a child’s eyes at Jane’s Carousel and I too felt childlike as I explored the juicy streets of Pineapple, Orange and Cranberry, seasonally adorned with a plethora of pumpkins on Brownstone steps. Among these I was excited to discover the former homes of  writers, – Henry Miller, W H Auden and Trueman Capote where ‘Breakfast in Tiffany’s was completed and my creative appetite felt both wholly satisfied, yet ravenous for more!

Thank you for following my adventures and a slice of the Big Apple!

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Episode 1 of a 5 video series – Introducing the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX concert grand piano 

 

Links – Composers

Keeril Makanhttp://keerilmakan.com/

Scott Wollschlegerhttps://scottwollschleger.com/

Melaine Dalibert http://www.anothertimbre.com/melainedalibert.html

Photographs –  ©  Linda Ibbotson

 

 

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Cafe Townhouse – Doneraile, Ireland – with poet Mary Noonan

Contemplating the Muse

No. 19

Linda Ibbotson

“The people that I liked and had not met went to the big cafes because they were lost in them and no one noticed them and they could be alone in them and be together.”

Ernest Hemingway – A Moveable Feast 

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In the 1920’s Paris, writers, artists and musicians such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Scott Fitzgerald, Picasso, Salvadore Dali etc, spent much of their time in cafes. Often a refuge from poverty they would escape from grey winter cold, sit around a welcoming brazier, socializing, writing and observing. They included infamous haunts of la vie de bohème such as Saint Germaine and Montparnasse; Les Deux Magots, Le Dome Cafe, La Closerie des Lilas and in Venice, the Caffè Quadri and Caffè Florian, founded in 1720 under the arcades of Piazza San Marco, frequented also by noblemen, politicians and intellectuals where I savoured cappuchino at Hemmingway’s favorite table! As a writer, photographer and cafe culture lover, I relish time alone, observing life through the lens, my camera my constant companion.

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Here, in Ireland, I discovered the wonderfully restored multi prestigious award winning  Georgian Cafe Townhouse and Townhouse Interiors, Doneraile, Co. Cork, owned by Myra Ryall and Ray O’Callaghan. I spent a refreshing afternoon sipping tea from a china cup and dainty teapot and relishing scrumptious chocolate cake in a stylish setting reminiscent of a bygone age; the elegant intimacy of a stately country house drawing room with a twist of chic French Provincial! I contentedly browsed a plethora of sumptuous interior design books, wrote notes for a poem! The perfect place to relax and enjoy a wholesome lunch, the fresh produce is sourced locally! Thank you too to the wonderful attentive staff!

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/cafetownhousedoneraile/

https://www.tripadvisor.ie/Restaurant_Review-g211926-d9777352-Reviews-Cafe_Townhouse-Doneraile_County_Cork.html

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When Cork poet Mary Noonan invited me to photograph her, the Cafe Townhouse, thanks to the wonderful hospitality of Myra, was the perfect location! Here is the headshot for her second collection ‘Stone Girl’ published by Dedalus Press in February 2019. Mary was born in London of Irish parents, and was brought up in Cork city and county. Having worked in Brussels and London, she returned to Cork in 1994 to take up a post as Lecturer in French at University College Cork and is reading at various festivals throughout the year including the Cork International Poetry Festival and West Cork Literary Festival

https://marynoonan.ie/

Link to Stone Girl – Dedalus Press including poem Self-Portrait with Camellia Branch – homage to Paula Modersohn-Becker

https://www.dedaluspress.com/product/stone-girl/

 

The Poetry Programme, Sunday 26th May 2019

Olivia O’Leary meets poets Mary Noonan and Ciarán O’Rourke.

https://www.rte.ie/radio/radioplayer/html5/#/radio1/11040842

https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/lifestyle/features/cork-poet-clearing-the-path-to-creative-output-910755.html

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https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/poetry-round-up-mary-noonan-s-second-collection-is-a-bit-of-a-surprise-1.3811268 

 

Townhouse Interiors

https://www.facebook.com/TownhouseInteriors-Curtains-Blinds-Doneraile-152685741467030/

 

Myra’s elegant and inspirational interior design showrooms, here with beautiful soft furnishings and expert advice on style and design!

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Steeped in history, the Cafe Townhouse was formerly The Commercial Hall dating back to the 1870’s. Here, in the upstairs salubrious private tearoom, donning a top hat you can imagine you are Alice in Wonderland in Mad Hatter tea party style! Having fun with Mary Noonan!

Mary

Page 96 Café Townhouse has received a full page Magazine spread on QTravel one of the worlds most prestigious Travel Magazine featuring The Worlds most beautiful, historical,  exotic places for tourists the world over to visit!

 

I wish Mary Noonan all the very best with her brilliant poetry collection Stone Girl and Myra and Ray continued success with the fantastic Cafe Townhouse and Townhouse Interiors, Doneraile, Co. Cork!

 

Thank you for joining me for tea in this picturesque corner of Cork. Thrilled too that nearby Doneraile Court nestling in 400 acres of walled parkland inspired by Capability Brown and a setting reminiscent of a Jane Austin novel, has been refurbished by OPW and promises an exciting future programme of arts and cultural events in addition to regular guided tours!

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Further Links –

https://gertrudesteinsite.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/ernest-hemingway-a-moveable-feast.pdf

 

 

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BERLIN – Ivan Ilić – Reicha Rediscovered Vol 2 – Piano Salon Christophori – 20/09/2018

 

Contemplating the Muse

No 18

Linda Ibbotson

From grandeur to graffiti, bohemian Berlin’s creative vibe is its raison d’etre.

Thrilled to revisit for Ivan Ilić’s wonderful concert and CD launch Reicha  Rediscovered Vol 2 which particularly focuses on counterpoint and fugue. Chandos Records.

You can be forgiven in thinking from the outside the Piano Salon Christophori is simply another urban warehouse.  In fact, the former tram depot is now transformed into an  eclectic antique piano restoration workshop with a Bohemian sensibility and is one of Berlin’s most revered intimate classical music venues located in the Wedding district, run by neurologist Christoph Schreiber founder, director and piano restorer!

Pianist Ivan Ilić earned degrees in mathematics and music at the University of California Berkeley before moving to Paris on a university fellowship. He then studied at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris, where he took a Premier Prix. The City of Paris sponsored his first recording.
Early career highlights included recitals at Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Ireland’s National Concert Hall, Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio, and the American Academy in Rome. He recently gave recital débuts in Vienna, Sao Paulo and Geneva.

 

Exciting news – Ivan has been appointed Musician in Residence at Ulster University   for 2018-2021

Ivan’s website – http://www.ivancdg.com/

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Seductive light from chandeliers and scattered lamps illuminate a cornucopia of pianistic delights! A beautiful Bösendorfer sits aplomb a piano shaped stage. Parts patiently waiting to be assembled are the accoutrements of these industrial walls.

Piano Salon Christophori website – https://www.konzertfluegel.com/

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To complement his Reicha Rediscovered CD series for Chandos Ivan recently filmed a 4-part documentary series about Antoine Reicha which he wrote and presented.

 NO-TE productions.

 1 Berlin – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=17&v=f0hN3aZXd68

 2 Bonn – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzUyhgevxvE

3 Hamburg – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAy1du-zC04

4 Vienna – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2xC3UDeTYo

 

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A review in the NEW YORK TIMEShttps://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/07/arts/music/anton-reicha-ivan-ilic-beethoven.html?fbclid=IwAR0p8b-qwVWOYJGxC5ozCNdkmBfc8Qgef4uLYy0G4U8ZU_b7Jdk_uMkU2IY

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BBC Music, November 2018 issue.
★★★★★ Performance / ★★★★★ Recording
“Reicha’s music has the best possible advocate”

 

Track samples and purchase –

https://lnk.to/Reicha2?fbclid=IwAR1igCGALY9OMBS8Ej9aNpwsnjEilLUSqHDlh796SuJshRxp9iWEjSog-Kw

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Who is Reicha you may be asking?

Czech composer Antoine Reicha (1770 – 1836) Born in Prague. After the death of his father he was adopted by his Aunt and Uncle who was a virtuoso cellist, conductor and composer, and moved with them to Bonn when he was 15 years old.  In Bonn, Antoine played violin and  flute in the court chapel, alongside another young gentleman, also born in 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven. Living in Hamburg, Leipzig, Vienna and Paris he was a teacher of  accomplished musicians of the day  including Liszt, Gounod, Berlioz and César Franck.  In Paris he was appointed a professor at the Paris Conservatory. He was also an accomplished theorist and wrote several treatises on composition. Some of his theoretical work dealt with experimental methods which he applied in a variety of works such as fugues and etudes for piano and string quartets. Until now much of his music was left unpublished in France’s National Library.

Here, thanks to Ivan Ilić we glimpse through a portal into the life and works of this innovative composer –

https://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/features/ivan-ilic-on-the-piano-music-of-antoine-reicha/

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 A theatrical assemblage in blue, the perfect backdrop!

 

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Christoph Schreiber, founder, director, also a neurologist whose passion to restore antique piano’s has created this magnificent artsy eclectic space for classical music concerts. It is a non profit venue and there is an honesty jar for cd and ticket purchase price.

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Ivan plays with clarity and sensitivity, powerful and yet gentle at the same time which I find rare and expresses an enthusiasm for research that is contagious!  This CD is exceptional from the first haunting track; Étude, Op 97 No 1 to the finale and it is extremely refreshing to hear these phenomenal little known compositions.

The concert programme – Haydn Sonata in C major Hob XVI:50 – Reicha 4 Etudes – Satie 3 Gymnopédies, 4 Gnossiennes – Grieg 11 Lyric pieces

A very attentive and appreciative audience as the concert drew to a close.

 

 

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Much appreciation to Ivan for the time spent after the concert for me to take photographs.

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Reminiscent of an Edward Hopper painting, a photo taken during the interval.

There is much to be said for a sense of adventure. As Reicha explored with ambition and tenacity new avenues of composition,  at times ahead of his contemporaries, so too let us flourish as we embrace each new day with passion and enthusiasm.

Thank you to Christoph Schreiber for his hard work and dedication, to Ivan Ilić for bringing to our ears exciting unknown compositions and to you all for joining me here at the Piano Salon Christophori, Berlin.  Naturally, I feel inevitably compelled to return Until then, I will listen to Ivan Ilićs wonderful CD and reminisce.

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Hotel Henri

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further Links – 

http://classiquemaispashasbeen.fr/2019/01/11/ivan-ilic-un-pianiste-de-la-generation-y/

France Musique – https://www.francemusique.fr/emissions/musique-en-regions/ivan-ilic-pianiste-65747?fbclid=IwAR365cRmUBWLDWDrYmzO3L5At8OwK3KMDWBq-481siUX2kapDXNZr6lEW6k

https://www.swr.de/swr2/programm/sendungen/treffpunkt-klassik/differenzierter-ausdruck-und-vielfarbigkeit-ivan-ilic-mit-klavierwerken-von-anton-reicha/-/id=660614/did=22733048/nid=660614/15m7qcx/index.html?fbclid=IwAR1xkRJY2i05l-OgmUi_jyb86Bg4eu7lvTGNP1siL4fvIdNXXVKe17bkHGk

 

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Swiss Alps: Maison Bergdorf – Mountains – Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn

Contemplating the Muse

No. 18

Linda Ibbotson

 

“It must be a sign of talent that I do not give up, though I can get nobody to take an interest in my efforts.” Fanny Mendelssohn.

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Interlaken from Harder Kulm

There are times we need to clear the head and no better place than the mountain air. I stayed in a magnificent 1897, wisteria clad, wooden Swiss chalet Maison Bergdorf  Boutique Guesthouse in a quiet location in the centre of Interlaken as recommended by ELLE UK, TRAUMHAUS, etc and myself, owned by a dynamic duo Stéphane Houlmann – arts enthusiast and interior designer and Mirko Beetschen – journalist and writer. It is a recently renovated creative idyll, an eclectic mix of contemporary and period art and design as well as home comforts. It was wonderful to meet host Bea who has a love of vintage  motorbikes and India! Perfect!

 

 

 

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Wengen

It was fascinating to discover that Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)  German composer, pianist, organist and conductor of the early romantic period had visited this region on several occasions, painting, sketching and composing He is known particularly for  Symphony No.1 in C Major for full orchestra, written in 1824 when Mendelssohn was aged 15, Wedding March, Fingals Cave, Songs Without Words (Lieder ohne Worte)etc. Interestingly, he was an accomplished mountaineer in addition to being educated in art, literature, languages, and philosophy! He corresponded regularly while on his travels in Italy and Switzerland to his family sending sketches and snippets of his new compositions. In one of his letters penned in 1842 to his elder sister Fanny he wrote  “The scenery around Interlaken,” then a village was “the finest of all in this unbelievably beautiful country.”

 

 

Lauterbrunnen sits prettily in the valley of 72 waterfalls, Lake Thun ( Spiez ) and the mountain range Jungfrau, Eiger and Monch

Felix and Fanny were born to a prominent and affluent family in Hamburg, who in 1811 moved to Berlin where the family home was established as a fashionable music salon Sonntagsmusiken. Concerts were organised (ultimately by Fanny) and held for nearly a quarter of a century at the glass domed garden hall at Recksches Palais, Leipziger Strasse. With a bohemian sensibility it was frequented by artists, musicians and scientists such as Goethe, Paganini,  Liszt, Clara and Robert Schumann and the Humboldt brothers. The musician Sarah Rothenburg wrote “Europe came to their living room.” Considered child prodigies they initially studied music with their mother who had trained in the Berliner-Bach tradition, then with Marie Bigot in Paris, Ludwig Berger and composition with Carl Friedrich Zelter in Berlin. Felix set several of Gothe’s poems to music.

It is the story of Fanny that I found particularly both intriguing and heartbreaking.

Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847) was indeed a virtuoso, passionate about music, could, at age 14 play all 24 Preludes from Bach’s The Well Tempered Clavier by heart and was an accomplished pianist and composer of more than 400 works including, piano and organ pieces, chamber music, cantatas, dramatic scenes, an oratorio and an orchestral overture. At  age 22, less than a year after Beethoven had died she wrote a magnificent energetic piano sonata! This manuscript of the majestic Easter Sonata was miraculously discovered in a Parisian bookshop in 1970! It premiered in her name on September 7th 2012, played by Andrea Lam and received a second performance by Sofya Gulyak on March 8th 2017 for BBC Radio 3. It was the second sonata composed by Fanny Mendelssohn and was completed in 1828 and had incorrectly initially been attributed to Felix as composer.

In 1829 after a period of five years, enforced by the family to have no contact with Wilhelm, Fanny finally married the artistic Prussian court painter Wilhelm Hensel  who had subsequently been awarded a fellowship by the Prussian King to study in Rome. He was extremely encouraging and supportive to her work and they formed a creative collaboration, bringing music and drawing together on the page.

 

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The following year she had her only child, Sebastian. Now, financially independent, in 1839/40 the family embarked on a much longed for Italian journey of discovery. Writers and recollections such as Goethe’s Italian Journey and Wilhelm Müller’s Rom, Römer und Römerinnen, fuelled her desire. Her travel experiences greatly impacted upon her and inspired her to write a 12  part piano suite, Das Jahr, portraying the 12 months of the year, each written on colored paper, illustrated by William with attached poems and is considered one of the greatest of the unheralded piano suites of the nineteenth century. In addition, she kept a travel diary and corresponded regularly with her family. They visited Padua, Verona, Florence and Venice, admiring masterpieces by artists such as Tintoretto and Titian. Her time in Rome and the invitation to Villa Medici, by the famous French painter Ingres (1780-1847) was an invigorating, joyful experience in her life, particularly the intellectually stimulating musical soirée’s as recorded in her diaries, returning to Berlin feeling liberated, with renewed confidence and fortitude.

It was whilst they were in Rome, they met Charles Gounod who became a firm friend and who clearly had great respect and admiration for Fanny, both as a person and as a musician. From Gounod’s memoirs here is an extract;  “Madame Henzel  was a first rate musician − a very clever pianiste, physically small and delicate, but her deep eyes and eager glance betrayed an active mind and restless energy. She had rare powers of composition, and many of the “Songs without Words” published among the works and under the name of her brother were hers. Thanks to her great gifts and wonderful memory, I made the acquaintance of various masterpieces of German music which I have never heard before, among them a number of the works of Sebastian Bach − sonatas, fugues, preludes and concertos − and many of Mendelssohn’s compositions, which were like a glimpse of a new world to me.” 

More about her Italian adventures from her diary and letters  https://www.biu.ac.il/hu/mu/min-ad/06/Fanny_Mendelssohn.pdf

Felix and Fanny had a close personal and musical relationship and he valued and trusted her educated opinion, even publishing some of her songs in his name. One in particular Queen Victoria loved, published in Felix’s name was written by Fanny. However, as Felix’s career developed, despite her ambition, Fanny was limited by convention, restraint and prevailing attitudes toward women at that historic time. Although encouraged and respected as a composer she was restricted to the confines of performing recitals at the Salon as family opposition prevented her being published in her own name, reminding her that her domestic life should be her priority. Her father wrote to her in 1820 “Music will perhaps become his [i.e. Felix’s] profession, while for you it can and must be only an ornament.

Thankfully, she defied this by being published in 1846.

“Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see, but it is impossible.” Magritte, 1965

 I admire her strength and tenacity as she continued composing, (even after nursing her family struck with cholera) despite the imposed restrictions. She doubtless felt frustration and sadness at times. Thankfully, her ‘hidden’ work is being bought to the fore now, recorded and performed and given the due credit and respect it deserves. Tragically and ironically, Fanny Hensel died in Berlin in 1847 of a fatal stroke suffered while rehearsing one of her brother’s oratorio’s. Grief stricken, Felix, six months later also died of the same cause. Earlier that day she had set to music a lyric poem by Eichendorff, the final words being ‘Thought and song fly way into the heavens

Both are buried in Berlin, however, their legacy lives on, in music and in hearts.

It is refreshing to hear compositions little known and a beautiful, wistful composition by Fanny is shown in the links below and to me epitomizes sadness, juxtaposed with hope. Attacca Quartet plays Fanny Mendelssohn String Quartet — First Movement.

Let us not be discouraged in our creative life and continue our personal journey with fortitude despite difficulties we may encounter. Thank you for taking the time to read

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LINKS

https://academicworks.cuny.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1219&context=hc_sas_etds

http://www.interlude.hk/front/roman-holiday-charles-gounod-fanny-hensel/

http://www.classical-music.com/article/six-best-works-fanny-mendelssohn

http://www.mendelssohn-remise.de/en/mendelssohns/biografien/fanny-hensel?fbclid=IwAR0Tq7f8IbD0Ni2UVxHTEQ-cry0R_Os_qrii8142EHOq511TEtq5HtLgPFk

 

 

 

 

Fanny Mendelssohn – Piano Sonata G minor – Allegro molto agitato –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtlCpIoWQUo

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/mar/08/fanny-mendelssohn-easter-sonata-premiere-sheila-hayman    

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Poetry Guest Interview – Irish writer Kerrie O’Brien

Contemplating the Muse

No. 17

Linda Ibbotson

Thomas Merton. “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

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With the onset of Spring I recall visiting Paris in April 2017 to walk in the footsteps of artists and writers such as Hemingway, Proust and Chagall. I was welcomed by a resplendent palette of color; delicate deep pink cherry blossoms, horse chestnuts and the ancient lilac wisteria clambouring the walls of Aux Vieux Paris d’Arcole, complementing the blue paintwork and purple chairs that tempt you to stay awhile, to sip wine and wait to hear the bells of nearby Notre Dame.

I am delighted to interview the wonderful Irish writer Kerrie O’Brien who has spent much time in Paris, the City of Light. Her collection Illuminate published by Salmon Poetry was chosen among the 2016 Books of the Year by The New Statesman The Irish Times and The Irish Independent. She is a recipient of numerous prestigious awards and is widely published, including; The Irish Times, The Irish Examiner and featured in Irisi, Cara, RTE Arena, Sunday Miscellany and The RTE Bookshow.

I met Kerrie at her poetry reading during the Cork International Poetry Festival 2017. Her skillful, succinct poetic style, her themes, sensitivity and insight of the human condition with its strengths and frailties, her love for Paris and devotion to the arts resonated with me. It is as if she paints words with color.

BIO Kerrie O’ Brien is a poet from Dublin. Her debut collection of poetry Illuminate was published by Salmon Poetry in October 2016 and was made possible by a Literature Bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland. She was the editor of Looking At The Stars, a limited edition anthology of Irish writing which raised over €21,000 for homelessness in Dublin. She holds a BA in History of Art and Classics from Trinity College Dublin.

Website – http://www.kerrieobrien.com/  

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1  Tell us about yourself. 

I’m from Dublin. I was born in Kingswood, Tallaght and went to school in Terenure. I didn’t start writing poetry in a serious way until college and it wasn’t until my final year that I had the courage to submit my work to journals. In 2010 I started volunteering in the Irish Writers’ Centre which meant I could do courses there for free and I began going to the open mic nights in Dublin like Glor Sessions and Nighthawks and discovered the thriving literary scene that still exists here. I brought out a chapbook with Lapwing called Out of the Blueness in 2011 and was lucky enough to win some awards and arts grants but by 2015 I was working full time in Hodges Figgis and had abandoned writing. Then I broke my foot which forced me to be at home for six months and that’s when I finally wrote Illuminate and rediscovered my love of creativity. In 2016 myself and Alice Kinsella created a limited edition anthology of writing called Looking at the Stars which raised over  E21,000 for the Dublin Simon Community.

2  What took you to Paris? 

I spent six weeks in Paris in 2012. I wanted to go somewhere new to live on my own and write and that’s when I properly fell in love with the city. One of my best friends from college lives there so I go over as often as I can. I spent another month there in May 2016 just after I finished Illuminate and in August 2017 I was awarded a language bursary from the Centre Culturel Irlandais and I got to spend five weeks there with an incredible group of people. I think I’ll probably end up living there. I’ve spent more time in Paris that any other city outside of Dublin.

3  Like me you have a penchant for the café culture. What is your favorite café / Parisian haunt?

There are literally hundreds. Shakespeare and Co have a beautiful little cafe that looks onto Notre Dame. It’s a great place to sit and write and watch the world go by. The top floor of the Pompidou has a restaurant with a panoramic view of Paris and it’s magical at night. Every street in Paris will have a beautiful old independent bistro and I find it a much slower way of life – people aren’t on their smartphones as much – it’s why I love spending time there so much. 

4  What motivates you to write and which writer’s have influenced your poetic style.

When I was sixteen I got a book of photography by Nan Goldin and in it was a poem by Sharon Olds called The Promise. I didn’t know poems like that existed. There’s a beauty and vulnerability to her work that I connected to. When I went to Trinity I had access to the library and so I was able to explore poetry in depth. Apart from Olds, Plath and Anne Sexton the accessible but beautiful conversational style of Frank O’ Hara’s Lunch Poems had a huge influence on me as did the stark depictions of grief in Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes. These are two collections that I still go back to again and again.
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Feature in Cara Magazine, June 2017

 
5  I am interested to hear about your writing process both poetry and fiction.

For me they are completely different. I always write my poems by hand. They will usually start with a line or a concept that I want to flesh out and explore and see where it takes me. It can take months and I’ve never been able to force my self sit down and bang out a new poem. It takes a while for the ideas to come together, to discover what voice is trying to emerge in the work. I find poetry extremely difficult because I’m usually writing about something emotional and there’s probably a sort of psychological healing going on. With fiction I always write directly onto a laptop and it’s much more dependent on daily word counts and fictional scenarios – to me my fiction reads in an entirely different tone and pace to my poetry.

 
6  As an artist do you find the process of painting similar to that of writing?
 

Again for me they are completely different forms of expression! I find painting much more spontaneous and enjoyable – I feel happy and energetic after a day of painting where as writing exhausts me. I find the same thrill with photography which is perhaps because I’m looking outwards rather than inwards. But I ultimately find poetry the most fulfilling art form. I spent a lot of last year touring and reading Illuminate. I felt proud of the work and found that the poems really do resonate with people on an emotional level. Some of my poems have been used at weddings and funerals. The fact that my words can touch other peoples lives like that is incredibly rewarding. At the moment I’m more focussed on my photography and exhibitions but I can already feel the second collection of poems coming to the surface. I’ve been lucky enough to get recent commissions for both my photography and writing which is almost miraculous so I look forward to seeing where the year ahead will take me.

 7  What are your favorite lines from one of your poems?
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Probably the last lines of Illuminate –

 

I want my spirit to go out

Like a laughing child

Running though the fields

And all along the white sands of the sea

Ready for anything

 

 

Three poems from Illuminate :-

Rothko

 

They found him

Hunched over a

White sink

All his beauty let out.

 

I think of him in his studio

East Hampton 1964

Wooden beams

Stained,

Concrete floor

 

Sitting back in a dark green chair

Head tilted, cigarette in hand

Peering at his creation

Layers and pain

Towering before him

Lost to it,

 

One mere man

What he gave

 

I see him with wings

 

Immersed in his

Low lit hush

Portals expanding

Crimson lilac

Burnt orange, greys

 

Weighted hum

Solemn yet violent

 

Fire, heart

Bloodsweat

Spilling out

 

So close and strange

People weep

 

Sacred –

 

What we do to each other

And give

Without knowing.

 

 

Morning Sun

 

The bed faced the window

 

So I would wake to brightness

Stretch in its warmth

 

And contemplate the rooftops

Of the city.

 

I felt like one of Hopper’s

Solitary women

Rose pale, dappled gold

 

Made of light and shadow.

 

Miss you, try not to

Know you felt it

 

Same mind, blue threads

The red tether

The hunger.

 

Shiver in the memory

Then bathe

 

Gentle with my body

 

Watch the steam

Rise and swirl

 

And float

Swanlike

My heart softly

Expanding –

 

The room

Full of bright cloud.

 

 

 

Turner

 

For one month only
To keep tradition

Every January
His bluegreen waters,
And apricot skies

A whole life chasing light

You wonder
Will they still do this
A thousand years from now

Or will everything eventually
Be forgotten.

And once –
A different presence in the room

A figure
Thin and distracting

Elegant as a heron
Lilac and grey

It was Le Brocquy

Standing otherworldly
In a Venice sunset

The last time he would see them
And I wonder did he sense it

Gazing
Transfixed by their glow

As when they first discovered
Fire gold fire oh

How they must have trembled
At the beauty

Many thanks Kerrie for a inspirational insight into your artistic and literary life.
May we all strive to weave color into the backbone of our lives, to find and lose ourselves in the beauty of the arts, to contemplate rather than procrastinate, to experiment, to flourish and create our own masterpiece.
Thank you to all the readers for joining me here and look forward to next time.
Linda at Cobh Railway station 2
Links – Poetry video’s of Kerrie reading two of her poems.

‘Dublin’  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3l2pNBwuqrA

 

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Venice – Art, Architecture and Ivan Ilić ‘Reicha Rediscovered’

Contemplating the Muse 

No. 16

Linda Ibbotson

“When I seek another word for ‘music’, I never find any other word than ‘Venice’.” Friedrich Nietzsche.

When pianist Ivan Ilić announced his cd  ‘Reicha Rediscovered’  was to be launched in Venice on 28/09/2017 at the magnificently restored Palazzetto Bru Zane, (Centre de Musique Romantique Française, San Polo)  it was the catalyst that awakened my desire to attend this wonderful momentous occasion and to rediscover Venice!

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Grand Canal

Venice,  the name derived from Venetti, the people who inhabited the region by the 10th century BC. Also known as La Serenissima, Venice is shaped like a fish, 118 small islands spanned by over 400 named bridges and resembles a theatre of stone!  The banks of the Grand Canal are lined with more than 170 buildings, most of which date from the 13th to the 18th century, and demonstrate the welfare and art created by the Republic of Venice.

 

‘Reicha Rediscovered’ – CD Launch – Palazzetto Bru Zane

 

 

 

Pianist Ivan Ilić earned degrees in mathematics and music at the University of California Berkeley before moving to Paris on a university fellowship. He then studied at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris, where he took a Premier Prix. The City of Paris sponsored his first recording. Early career highlights included recitals at Carnegie HallWigmore Hall, Ireland’s National Concert Hall, Toronto’s Glenn Gould Studio, and the American Academy in Rome.

Link to Ivan’s website – http://www.ivancdg.com/index.php?lang=en

‘Reicha Rediscovered’  is the first cd in a forthcoming series by Ivan and is released by Chandos; one of the world’s premiere classical record companies, produced by Swiss National Radio and supported by the Palazzetto Bru Zane.  Antoine Reicha was a contemporary of Beethoven and many of his compositions unpublished, stored in France’s National Library.

**Episode one released May 2018 of a four part video documentary series about Antoine Reicha’s life and work ( a contemporary and friend of Beethoven.)  Brilliant accomplishment, informative, filmed with photographic finesse!  Available on Apple Music, and You Tube, a new collaboration with Chandos Records.

https://itunes.apple.com/…/reicha…/1376888587

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0hN3aZXd68

Ivan Ilić’s  essay in International Piano regarding Reicha and his compositions – http://www.rhinegold.co.uk/international_piano/reicha-rediscovered/

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Palazzetto Bru Zane

http://www.bru-zane.com/en/

In 1695, Marino Zane (1639–1709) commissioned the construction of a library and a casino (now the Palazzetto) next to the residence of the family Zane, the Palazzo Zane Collalto. It was intended to house his collection of books and paintings and to serve as a venue for music and arts.  The architect Antonio Gaspari was responsible for the interior decoration of the casino, owned by the Zane family.

In 2006 the Fondation Bru bought the Casino and is now a music venue, meticulously restored with sixteen rooms, the pièce de résistance; a double height concert room with ornate wooden balustrade and coved ceiling decorated with paintings incorporating Hercules and Olympian Gods. There are also frescoes by Sebastiano Ricci and stuccowork by Abbondio Stazio.

 

 

 

 

Mosaic flooring and Murano glass wall lights (that, to me resemble hands) at     Palazzetto Bru Zane

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It was a magnificent concert! Expressive Reicha compositions played beautifully by Ivan! The majestic and delicate played with incredible precision and passion!  The concert was simultaneously broadcast on Venice Classic Radio and Bru Zane Radio! Especially adore Grande Sonate in C Major and Etude Op. 97 No. 1.

 

 

 

 

Flora in Vitro Glass flower exhibition – Georg Ragner Levi at Palazzetto Bru Zane

 Rialto and San Marco

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Lorenzo Quinn’s giant hands of Support at Ca’ Sagredo Hotel.

Hands seem to play an intrinsic part of my Venetian experience! Ivan’s skilled pianistic hands, Murano glass wall lights at Palazzetto Bru Zane that resemble hands to Lorenzo Quinn’s  sculpture ‘Support,’ giant hands emerging from the Grand Canal!

Visually, Venice is a masterpiece! From the ancient splendour of Baroque, Byzantine and Moorish influenced Gothic architecture, particularly in the Chiesa’s (churches), the delicate Murano artisan glass chandeliers, the prodigious work of Renaissance artists such as Carpaccio, Titian and Tintoretto, influenced by light and play of light on water (a legacy to European art) to the contemporary Venice Biennale spectacularly captured in 2017 by Lorenzo Quinn’s giant hands of Support at Ca’ Sagredo Hotel.

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Rialto Bridge

Beautiful architecture of the Rialto Bridge, completed in 1591, the oldest of four spanning the Grand Canal. During the first half of the 15th century, two rows of shops were built along the sides of the bridge and is still today, a thriving market area.

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Rialto, a thriving market area

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Me. The principal façade of Ca’ d’Oro in the background.

Ca’ d’Oro is built in the Bon’s Venetian floral Gothic style. Other nearby buildings in this style are Palazzo Barbaro and the Palazzo Giustinian. This linear style favoured by the Venetian architects was not totally superseded by the Baroque one until the end of the 16th century.

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Rialto Market

                                                             San Marco

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After viewing the impressive Piazza San Marco, Doges Palace, the glorious St Mark’s Basilica; one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture, paradoxically, the only way to find Venice is to lose yourself in the labyrinth of decay and splendour.

 

 

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Campanile  San Marco

The tower is 98.6 metres (323 ft) tall, and stands alone in a corner of St Mark’s Square, near the front of the basilica. It has a simple form, the bulk of which is a fluted brick square shaft. Each of the five bells of the campanile had a special purpose.

The Renghiera (or the Maleficio) announced executions; the Mezza Terza  proclaimed a session of the Senate; the Nona sounded midday; the Trottiera called members of the Maggior Consiglio to council meetings and the Marangona, the biggest, rang to mark the beginning and ending of working day. They are tuned to the key of A Major.

 

 

The Labyrinth

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Caffè Florian                  

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Antoine Reicha’s expressive composition Etude No. 1 beautifully played by Ivan Ilić from ‘Reicha Rediscovered’ haunts my mind…..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSHm3ZphFlk

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You will discover timeless haunts such as Caffè Florian an art noveau haunt famous for its delicious hot chocolate and plethora of artists, musicians and writers; Byron, Verdi, Hemmingway, Modigliani to name a few. The Florian opened with two simply furnished rooms on 29 December 1720 as “Alla Venezia Trionfante” (Venice the Triumphant), but soon became known as Caffè Florian, after its original owner Floriano Francesconi.

 

 

Libreria Acqua Alta

 

The renowned Libreria Acqua Alta bookshop where books are kept safely afloat in a gondola and bathtubs! Cats everywhere and a fire escape that leads into the canal. 5167 Castello, five minutes walk from Campo Santa Maria Formosa.

 

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Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

 

 

L – Bridge of Sighs – The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone, has windows with stone bars, passes over the Rio di Palazzo, and connects the New Prison (Prigioni Nuove) to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. It was designed by Antonio Contino (whose uncle Antonio da Ponte had designed the Rialto Bridge) and was built in 1600.

R – Across the lagoon, San Giorgio Maggiore is now the headquarters of the Cini Foundation arts centre, known for its library and is also home to the Teatro Verde open-air theatre.

 Hotel Danielli

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Hotel Danielli,  the location for The Tourist movie and where George Sand stayed with her Iover Alfred de Musset. It was built at the end of the 14th century by one of the Dandolo families. Many notable artists, writers, musicians and other luminaries stayed here, among them Goethe, Wagner, Charles Dickens, Byron, Peggy Guggenheim, Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Harrison Ford, and Steven Spielberg.

Ca’ Del Sol

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Ca’ Del Sol

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Ca’ Del Sol

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Ca’ Del Sol costume and hand made mask shop and workshop  Canonica Bridge, campo S. Provolo and the
fondamenta Osmarin.

Vivaldi

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Interpreti Veneziani  (during rehearsals)

 

Glorious concert as Interpreti Veneziani play Vivaldi at Chiesa san Vidal near the Accademia bridge. The final fading notes of a cello, fragrance of a nearby oleander, the creaking crowded Grand Canal night vaporetto indelibly etched in my mind.

 

The Finale

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View from The Accademia Bridge (Ponte dell’Accademia). It links the San Marco district with the Accademia gallery in Dorsoduro. It offers two of the best views in Venice, looking along the Grand Canal in each direction. On one side lies the dome of Santa Maria della Salute, and on the other the canal wending its way towards the Rialto Bridge.

Venice is compelling, the ultimate lure for the artistic and intrepid traveller! I hope you get to visit one day if you have not already had the pleasure……….

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Links –

Episode 1 of new doc. series about Antoine Reicha’s life (a contemporary of Beethoven)  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/music-video/reicha-rediscovered-episode-1/1376888587

Ivan Ilić plays Antoine Reicha’s Etude No. 1  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSHm3ZphFlk

Ivan Ilić performs Antoine Reicha’s Capriccio    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTE60JLeyPo

http://www.classicagenda.fr/antoine-reicha-entretien-avec-ivan-ilic/

http://www.limelightmagazine.com.au/features/ivan-ilic-piano-music-anton-reicha

http://www.ivancdg.com/reicha/1/BBC-Music-Magazine-review.jpg

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2017/Nov/Reicha_piano_v1_CHAN10950.htm

https://www.interpretiveneziani.com/en/

http://www.cadelsolmascherevenezia.com/en/masks/

https://www.caffeflorian.com/en/

 

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Poetry Guest Interview – Antonia Alexandra Klimenko-Writer/Poet in Residence for SpokenWord Paris.

Contemplating the Muse

No 15

Linda Ibbotson

“Paris opened like a book under my skin,
‘A Moveable Feast’ Hemingway once said….”

 

Opening line from my poem ‘Pastiche,’ one of a sequence of poems entitled
‘The Paris Sketchbook’ published in Levure Litteraire 13.  http://levurelitteraire.com/linda-ibbotson-2/

Ernest Hemingway described, so succinctly, Paris as ‘A Moveable Feast’ and spent much of his time in the vibrant bohemian Latin Quarter in the company of the Avant-Garde such as T S Eliot, F Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Dali and Picasso, escaping momentarily the cold, often uncomfortable conditions in which they lived, to eat and write in the warmth of cafés such as La Closerie des Lilas, Les Deux Magots and Brasserie Lipp.

I followed in their footsteps, strolling the boulevards as a flaneur, frequenting the literary haunts, browsing the plethora of books in Shakespere and Company where I attended a poetry event Celebrating Fifty Years of Modern Poetry in Translation in August 2016.

Linda and Antonia
Antonia and myself at the Paris Ritz

It was wonderful meeting Antonia Alexandra Klimenko, my companion and guide on several occasions. An accomplished and charismatic poet, Antonia’s artistry juxtaposes her powerful voice with the tender and the raw as well as infusing the spiritual. I was fascinated by her personal experiences of Paris including meeting George Whitman and Salvadore Dali! We indulged in afternoon tea at the luxurious Paris Ritz Proust room and picnicked in Square René Viviani  sipping apple juice, overlooking Notre Dame before attending SpokenWord Paris’ open mic at Au Chat Noir. As Writer/Poet in Residence for SWP, Antonia books the special guest each week. It was exciting for me to revisit with our mutual friend Danielle Baraka in April 2017 who travelled to Paris to meet us.

Antonia. trained as an actress at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and a former San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion has recently had the pleasure of reading with the multi-talented Helene Cardona;  poet, actress, (including ‘Chocolat’ and ‘Mumford’) and translator among her many accolades and poet and translator, John High, at the Tennessee Bar. ‘Poets Live’ is hosted by Malik Crumpler. 

Links to some of Antonia’s publications, regular poetry events and venues at the end of this article.

 

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Orchids at the Paris Ritz

Antonia Alexandra Klimenko is widely published. Her work has appeared in  XXI Century World Literature (in which she represents France) The Poet”s Quest for God Anthology, CounterPunch, The Original Van Gogh’s Ear Anthology, The Rumpus, Levure Litteraire, Big Bridge,Writing for Peace, Strangers in Paris, Occupy Poets’ Anthology (in which she is distinguished as an American Poet), Maintenant : Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art archived at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. She is the Writer/Poet in Residence for SpokenWord Paris.

 

What brought you to Paris, city of writers, artists and musicians?

My brother. I hadn’t seen him since I was 11 years old and, finally, I was 19 and old enough to travel. I was grateful that he had chosen Paris, as Paris had always been at the top of my short list of places that I had longed to visit, and for the usual reasons— the light, the architecture, the culture, the community of artists.  The notion that even if you made but a modest living, you might enjoy the abundance of beauty and spirit.  I like to think, also, that it was fate. 

 

Which is your favorite café/ Parisian haunt?

For outdoor haunts:  There’s a place at the river’s edge on the Isle Saint Louis that I am very fond of. Also, the Jardin du Luxembourg.  Indoor: The light tiled Moroccan patio of Salon de The de La Grande Mosquee on sunny days, the shaded room of La Palette on rainy.

 

What motivates you to write and your influences?

The desire to transcend. To share and/or reflect beauty. To heal, to process an experience that might have been less than wonderful and to create positive energy from it. To connect with self and with others, to share thoughts and ideals which make us most human.  Writing encourages empathy as we imagine what it must be like to be in someone else’s shoes. I also enjoy the art of expression, trying to find the better messenger to convey meaning.  Poetry, like music, opens a portal to the mystery of understanding without our fully comprehending.  It brings me closer to Spirit.

And, of course, you never know who you might meet along the way. For instance, I was invited to a rather surreal soiree here in Paris where I couldn’t help but notice a charismatic artist with jet-black hair {and an unreasonably wide but charming moustache) wearing a satin pirate shirt topped off by a small leashed monkey sitting on his shoulder. He spoke to me towards the end of the evening. Told me he had noticed me…that I shouldn’t smile too much…that a woman must be mysterious.  Our brief meeting inspired me—years later– to write ‘’One evening, stand on the sky and learn to paint your world without a wooden frame. Then, climb into the painting.’’

 

Writers you admire and who influence your own poetic style?

I admire Michael Rothenberg, of 100 Thousand Poets for Change as a Living Poem.  He reached out to me when he heard I was ill and suggested I apply for a grant to Poets in Need, which I gratefully received. He reminds us that communion, communication and community can effect change and transformation in the world. As for writing styleDostoyevsky, Rilke, e.e. cummings, Anne Sexton, James Wright.

 

What is your favorite line from one of your poems?

This is like Sophie’s Choice haha, as all of our creations are like our children.  Ok, if I must…

And, still the soul’s marrow

like my own bone’s thinning

moves through and beyond  

the fading bruise of my existence

 

Your goals and aspirations?

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At the SpokenWord Paris, Au Chat Noir

To get my collections of poems published. To finish my play, which I’m afraid is all play and no work right now. I had an opportunity to be published by the legendary Tambimuttu of Poetry London.  I even made a recording for him under the Apple Record label as he had gone into business with The Beatles at the tail-end of the 70’s.  The magazine was then called Poetry London / Apple Magazine. However, I decided I wanted to delay the publication in order to offer, perhaps, more inspired work and when Tambi died the manuscript was orphaned.  I only began to submit my work to journals in the last 7 years.  Now, as I approach 70, I do sincerely wish to find good homes for my poetic offspring.  I suppose it might help, haha,  if I sent them out into the world.

 

Of Papa Who Sang in the Opera

 

We buried him in deep November
brown hat brown suit brown shoes
Color
of sorrow of sepia of sienna
of a thousand burnt photographs
fading into their horizon

Color
of the shit linoleum
I scrubbed with a toothbrush
the day I was forced
to dig my own grave

for the crimes I committed
like living
A hole much smaller
than the ones in Papa’s head
than the ones in our stories
than the hole in my heart

We buried him above ground
one year at a time
lowering him slowly
into forgiveness–
tulips blossoming
into Soviet red wounds
mouth opening
into Stalin’s tomb
Arias by Tchaikovsky
in operatic fury threatening
to swallow us whole

Lowering him slowly
into forgiveness–
Our father His Holiness
who dreamt of Byzantium-
clouds fluttering like butterflies
between claps of thunder
A pinch of late Autumn blown by the wind
God threw in a handful of stars
The sunflowers looked on
bowing their heads

Sometimes late at night
I lie in his grave
Papa wanders
barefoot there
like Jesus Christ in Summer
The Devil too
in his black fedora

 

 

 

Irish Whisky

 

                     whisky”- –of Gaelic and Old Irish descent meaning “water of life

 

It’s like the letter you were expecting

but had forgotten

the dream you almost recall

upon waking

One day you are writing to yourself

to prove that you exist

the next day you are talking to someone

who doesn’t

 

How to talk to oneself

is a language all its own—

a message behind distorted glass

with the swell of the crumbling cork–

the skewed tongue that no longer fits

 

I have tried

translating myself into a another language—

a new language that I might better understand

Translations are at best

like well-known paintings

rendered by unknown artists—

Impressionists– every one of them—

always the colors just a little off

always something missing

 

In the wee green hours of the marnin’

In the pale blue hours of the morning

I weave forth and back  back and forth

doing a poor imitation of me-self—

cutting a rug set in its own pattern

without a thread of light to add to my design

 

Today I received a letter in the mail—

no words  only a blank page in an envelope—

handwriting slurred

a crooked stamp in the corner—

those suspicious wavy lines

 

No problem

Pas de problem, I say—

reaching for the real thing—100 proof—

my words turning up like drunken sailors

stumbling off the tongue…

 

I always read my poems sober

I always write my poems drunk 

 

Originally published in The Bastille

 

 

The Travel Channel         

 

It took me forever to learn how to love–

to love wide open with the throat singing arias

with the arms waving like banners

with the heart bleeding flesh

with the entrails leaking

with that profound wound of womanhood

that waits for you like a bruised ripening hunger

that trembles for you like an unhinged moon

that weeps for you as you enter me without a sound

 

How to love openly is an art   I do it best in my head

without you  With the lights off and the television on–

stepping back into myself like your favorite rerun

Afraid that you will   see the silent movies in my eyes

Afraid that you will   study my veins like roadmaps

that stretch across the sagging accordion of my ribs

into the rolling hills  the deep divide of my conscious being

that you will mistake my matching carry-on luggage

for that cute set of accessories you will carry-off one day

to that land of used dreams without me

 

In your mind   I am merely a reflection of you–

a mirror with a memory that unfolds now in slow motion

only after you’ve pulled out of the tunnel

and already left the station  The voice that–

just before you switch the channel–

knows how to love you with its mouth wide-open

and screams faster than you can say fast forward:

I gave you my body…now I want it back!

 

Originally published in Iodine Journal

 

 

Tell us about SpokenWord Paris and other events/venues, particularly for English language speakers

In the words of David Barne’s its founder: SpokenWord Paris is one pole of a nomadic tribe of people who love poetry, writing and song. A home for creatives and lost anglophones. We do an open mic night called SpokenWord every Monday and an allied writers’ workshop at Shakespeare & Company (every Sunday.) We do a literary journal called The Bastille and Tightrope Books has published many of us in the book “Strangers in Paris.”

https://spokenwordparis.org/

https://spokenwordparis.org/about-us/antonia-alexandra-klimenko/

 

Venues with open mic and featured guest

 

SpokenWord Paris—Au Chat Noir, 76 Jean-Pierre Timbaud, Metro ligne 2 or

Metro ligne 3 Parmentier. Sign up is at 8 pm.

 

There are also two open mic ‘’offshoots’’ of SWP that now ‘’do their own thing’’

Paris Lit Up – Culture Rapide, 103 Julien Lacroix, Metro lingne 2, Belleville

Sign up begins at 8pm. (PLU also publishes a journal)  http://parislitup.com/

Open Secret — Le Bistrot des Artistes, 6 rue des Anglais, 5è. Métro Maubert-Mutualité (line 10) or Saint-Michel (line 4). 8pm sign up and begins at 8pm (continues night-long)

 

Venues with featured guests only and varying schedule

 

Poets Live—The longest running Anglophone reading series in Paris   https://poetslive.org/

Ivy Poets – The bi-lingual poetry series   http://ivywritersparis.blogspot.fr/

Berkeley Books— 8, rue Casimir Delavigne, Metro lines 4 and 10  Odeon

http://berkeleybooksofparis.org/index.html

Angora Poets–Featured poets. Angora Bar, 3 boulevard richard Lenoir, Metro ligne 5, Bastille.

 

W H Smith periodic author events 248 rue de Rivoli  https://whsmith.fr/ 

 

 

Links to some of Antonia’s publications.

http://poetslive.org/…/8-27-2017-antonia-alexandra-klimenko/

27. 8. 2017 Hélène Cardona, John High, and Antonia Alexandra Klimenko will read from their new poetry books. Reading will begin 19hr at The Tennessee Bar Antonia Alexandra Klimenko was first introd…

 

https://theoriginalvangoghsearanthology.com/2015/02/05/art-isnt-dead-its-still-dying-by-antonia-alexandra-klimenko/

Art Isn’t Dead-It’s Still Dying “like Dali’s melting clocks

https://theoriginalvangoghsearanthology.com/2013/03/03/reproduction-by-antonia-alexandra-klimenko/

Reproduction to Jean-Baptiste Chantoiseau It was as if he had gone to sleep for the last time inside the painting, itself, as if he had pulled up the misshapen hills …

https://theopiatemagazine.com/2017/06/22/glass-nobodies-by/

Medusa–from Greek; protectress; guardian The owl and the pussycat went out to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat –Edward Lear 1. How I drowned in my mother’s tears …

http://levurelitteraire.com/antonia-alexandra-klimenko-2/

Levure littéraire, Magazine international d’information et d’éducation culturelle – International Magazine for information and cultural education …

 

 

So with great inspiration, and of course Love, I am honored to introduce to Paris, and to the world, SquareRoot of Love: Valentine’s Day in Paris – A John Sims …

http://www.literaryorphans.org/playdb/porn-star-antonia-klimenko/

https://voxpopulisphere.com/2014/12/25/let-me-magnify-you/

I’ve come from a family of tears –Salvatore Ala Seen under …

https://www.counterpunch.org/2013/04/05/klimenko-chatterjee-and-vongsaravanh/

Antonia Alexandra Klimenko was first introduced on the BBC and to the literary world by the legendary Tambimuttu of Poetry London–-publisher of T.S. Eliot, Henry …

://www.occupypoetry.net/antonia_alexandra_klimenko

Help us build the most popular collection of engaged poetry online. ubscribe to Occupy Poetry & Stay tuned!

http://bigbridge.org/BB18/selectedpoems/Antonia_Alexandra_Klimenko.html

 

 

https://thosethatthis.com/chaque-semaine/

Antonia reading her poem ‘Untitled’ — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzu2w2kj1mA

This was an exhilarating and informative interview and I thank Antonia immensely for her interesting, thoughtful responses and her skillful poetic virtuosity. Thank you all for taking the time to read it.

I now ruminate as to whether writers were born with ink in their veins! 

Photo Credits 

SpokenWord – Sabine Dundure

Antonia on the train – Maximillian Scheuer

Antonia at the Ritz and SpokenWord – My photo’s  

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