Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Silent era classical music

I recently picked up a copy of Aubert: Orchestral Works, a collection of five shorter works by Louis Aubert (1887 - 1968). I had not heard of this French composer, but I stumbled upon this CD and was drawn to the cover (which depicts Charlie Chaplin) as well as the interestingly titled second work on the disc, "Cinema, six tableaux symphoniques." According to the liner notes, this symphonic suite is taken from a ballet first staged in 1953, and each movement or episode in the work depicts a moment in the history of film. The movements are titled "Cinéma, six tableaux symphoniques Douglas Fairbanks et Mary Pickford," "Cinéma, six tableaux symphoniques Rudolph Valentino," "Cinéma, six tableaux symphoniques Chaplin et les Nymphes Hollywoodiennes," "Cinéma, six tableaux symphoniques Walt Disney," etc.... This music is charming and easy to listen to, and will appeal to those who may like Debussy or Ravel.

The liner notes refer to another French composer with whom I was not familiar, Charles Koechlin (1867 - 1950), and his "Seven Stars Symphony." According to the Wikipedia entry on Koechlin, the "Seven Stars Symphony" (1933) was "inspired by Hollywood" and "He was fascinated by the movies and wrote many 'imaginary' film scores and works dedicated to the Hollywood actress Lillian Harvey, on whom he had a crush. He also composed an "Epitaph for Jean Harlow." This webpage contains additional information on Koechlin. And this English-language Russian webpage has some really interesting material.

One doesn't often come across classical music inspired by the early cinema, especially that dating from the time. Is anyone familiar with this composer or their filmic compositions? I would like to track down some of Koechlin's work.

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