1.24.2010

Notes on week 17 :: Music

Who Wrote Vinteuil's Sonata?
Excellent blog article by Blair Sanderson on which composer's work may have been the model for Vinteuil's sonata -- truly a long-running literary mystery.  He makes a case for several different composers (Fauré, Franck, Debussy, Saint-Saens, even Wagner), and, best of all, includes musical links.

By the way, Dr. Potain was a real person. (The sphygmomanometer was the first accurate and practical instrument for estimating blood pressure. In the version invented by Pierre Potain (1825-1901), a rubber tube with an aneroid manometer was attached to a compressible bulb filled with air. Major, Ralph H. Major, A History of Medicine. 1954., p. 890)

Loveseat in Beauvais fabric (1855)


The chairs and sofas of the latter half of the reign of Louis Quatorze are exceedingly grand and rich. The suite of furniture for the state apartment of a prince or wealthy nobleman comprised a canapé, or sofa, and six fauteils, or arm chairs, the frames carved with much spirit, or with "feeling," as it is technically termed, and richly gilt. The backs and seats were upholstered and covered with the already famous tapestry of Gobelins or Beauvais.  (Frederick Litchfield, Illustrated History of Furniture From the Earliest to the Present Time)

Here is a modern restoration of a settee and a Beauvais tapestry and another Beauvais-covered piece, about in the middle of the page.  From the text:
   And Mme. Verdurin, seeing Swann by himself upon a chair, made him get up. "You're not at all comfortable there; go along and sit by Odette; you can make room for M. Swann there, can't you, Odette?"
   "What charming Beauvais!" said Swann, stopping to admire the sofa before he sat down on it, and wishing to be polite.
     "I am glad you appreciate my sofa," replied Mme. Verdurin, "and I warn you that if you expect ever to see another like it you may as well abandon the idea at once. They never made any more like it. And these little chairs, too, are perfect marvels. You can look at them in a moment. The emblems in each of the bronze mouldings correspond to the subject of the tapestry on the chair; you know, you combine amusement with instruction when you look at them;--I can promise you a delightful time, I assure you... (Swann in Love, Montcrieff tr.)