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View Diary: Thursday Classical Music OPUS 111: The Fingal's Cave Overture, by Felix Mendelssohn (28 comments)

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  •  I LOVE Fingal's cave -- easily one of my top five (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    denig, radarlady, Dumbo

    "non-symphonic" orchestral pieces. (Another one that I absolutely love and that Fingal's Cave reminds me of, is The Moldau by Smetana -- similar haunting theme, crashing waves in the climax, and so on.)

    This reminds me from a scene in Susan Cooper's book The Boggart, set partly in Scotland. Emily is buying a recording of Fingal's Cave:

    "Nice piece," said the young man amiably. "You know it?"
         "Not yet," said Emily.
         He smiled at her as he handed over her change. "See if you can find the words inside it. They aren't there but you can hear them. They say, 'How lovely the sea is!'"
         Emily went home and played the tape, and instantly heard the words in the tune - even though, as the young man had said, there were really no words there.
    Incidentally, as I ran a Google search to find this excerpt, I came across what must have been its original source, a book of poems (available online, first published in 1976) by Edmond Wright:
    ...And Uncle Jack
    told me that Mendelssohn's 'Fingal's Cave', the tune,
    said, "How lovely the sea is!" But the drawback
    was, with the melody, after that, I soon
    couldn't hear it without the words, so the waves,
    though they struggled away, they sounded like slaves.
    Anyway, I'd definitely be willing to help out with the series. As a classical musician I have plenty of material to use! :)

    "We are stardust, we are golden, and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." (Joni Mitchell)

    by Eowyn9 on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 06:48:14 AM PDT

    •  I did a bit more searching and apparently (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      denig, radarlady, Dumbo

      the "how lovely the sea is" quote originates from a still older source: the British conductor Malcolm Sargent, in 1924.

      "Among his innovations when he took over was the introduction of words and phrases to illustrate themes to a young audience. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony opened with "fee, fi, fo, fum" and Mendelssohn's Fingal's Cave with "how lovely the sea is. The music press was enraged that the great composers would be so denigrated."

      "We are stardust, we are golden, and we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." (Joni Mitchell)

      by Eowyn9 on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 07:00:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Words to the second subject too (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        denig, radarlady, Dumbo

        But I always thought of them as attributed to John Barbirolli, not Flash Sargent: "Oh, what a lovely tune up-ooon the cellll-os". I can still hear Sir John's voice in my head.

        But then, when the second subject returns near the end on a solo clarinet, joined by its mate, the image of two seagulls soaring overhead is impossible to shake.

        Thanks for bringing back these diaries!

        Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?

        by UncleDavid on Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 08:10:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'll PM you about that. (0+ / 0-)

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