Tag Archives: Renée Fleming

Franck and Rodin

rodin-franck

Both César Franck and Auguste Rodin belonged to the Symbolist movement of the late 19th century, with its sacred ideal and interest in phenomena of metamorphosis.

They also shared the same mythical view of woman and the same sensuality, with its consequent risk of damnation. Both are highly representative figures of their period, although they seldom made use of an aesthetic that verged on the modern.

This according to “Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) et César Franck  (1822–1890): Essai d’une étude comparée” by François Sabatier, an essay included in César Franck et son temps (Revue belge de musicologie/Belgisch tijdschrift voor muziekwetenschap XLV [1991] pp. 77–84).

While there is only circumstantial evidence that Franck and Rodin met, upon the former’s death the latter was commissioned to produce the commemorative medallion shown above.

Today is Franck’s 190th birthday! Below, Renée Fleming sings the “Panis angelicus” from Franck’s Messe à trois voix, op. 12.

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The Nawāb’s musical bed

In 1882 Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi IV, Nawāb of Bahawalpur, anonymously commissioned a bed in rosewood covered with about a third of a ton of chased and engraved sterling silver from La Maison Christofle in Paris. The bedposts were four life-size automatons, nude (though bewigged) female figures representing European types, powered by four crank-wound spring mechanisms in their pedestals.

Wires ran from these springs to a music box under the bed. Downward pressure on the center of the mattress activated the music box and caused the bedpost-women to begin shifting their eyes and fanning and whisking in time to the music (an unidentified excerpt from Gounod’s Faust). The performance lasted 30 minutes. A watercolor and several photos taken in 1882 for the Christofle firm are the only evidence of the bed, whose present whereabouts are unknown.

This according to “Asleep with painted ladies” by Carl A. Skoggard (Nest X [2000] pp. 100–105). Below, Renée Fleming sings “Oh Dieu! Que de bijoux” (Jewel song), an aptly themed candidate for the Faust excerpt in question.

Related article: The Sultan’s pipe organ

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