In music as in politics, dogs can be useful props.
Richard Nixon’s famous “Checkers speech”, which saved his vice presidential bid and set a new standard for emotional appeals in political advertising, made news the same year (1952) that Patti Page had a number-one hit with (How much is) that doggie in the window?
The subsequent 1952 presidential race included an ad for Adlai Stevenson that featured a saucy Patti Page lookalike addressing the camera and singing, “I love the gov, the governor of Illinois…Adlai, I love you madly.” This was the first presidential race to feature widespread use of the new televisual medium, and Dwight D. Eisenhower won both the ad war and the presidency.
This according to “Political machinations: How much was that doggie in the window?” by Philip Gentry (IASPM-US 1 October 2012).
Above, Checkers; below, Patti Page!
In 1917 Prokof’ev briefly returned to one of his childhood interests: writing fiction.
He considered what this pursuit entailed. “My style caused me concern,” he wrote. “Did it have individuality or was it awkward?”
“If there’s an idea, then the style will be subservient to the idea,” he concluded. “If I have an idea, that means I’m an author.”
One of his short stories, Пудель: Мерзкая собака (The poodle: A bad dog) was published in an English translation by Three oranges (3 [May 2002] pp. 6–9; the full text is here). A surprise twist at the end is a wry nod to the composer’s interest in the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer.
Below, Prokof’ev’s good dog.
During his lonely years as a young traveling performer and teacher in northern Germany, Ferruccio Busoni adopted a Newfoundland for companionship; he named the huge black dog Lesko. When he sailed to Helsinki to begin his first steady teaching position in 1888, of course Lesko came along.
Busoni’s lively personality and prodigious performing skills soon attracted a group of artists who gathered regularly at bars and restaurants. Since his dog always attended these meetings, they declared Lesko the honorary convener and dubbed themselves the Leskovites. This group included Jean Sibelius, the writer Adolf Paul, the conductor Armas Järnefelt, and his brother, the painter Eero Järnefelt.
In 1890 Busoni expressed his regard for the Leskovites with his Geharnischte suite, op. 34a; each movement is dedicated to one of “the four friends of Lesko in Helsinki.”
This according to “The friends of Lesko, the dog: Sibelius, Busoni, Armas and Eero Järnefelt, Adolf Paul” by Barbara Blanchard Hong, an essay included in Sibelius in the old and new world: Aspects of his music, its interpretation, and reception (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2010, pp. 57–68).
Below, Busoni’s suite dedicated to the Leskovites.