shadowofthecourtesan

discovering the hidden worlds of women composers

Tonight’s the night

Morecambe and Wise, Beyoncé, and Miley Cyrus made it through, but (as far as I can remember) President Obama disappeared without trace. And Chrissie Hynde put in a late, unplanned appearance, complete with rude words, which may or may not have made the director’s cut. All this, in a back room of the ICA on a hot summer night last month. And tonight’s the night when I find out what I actually said for Radio 4’s Four Thought. To be honest, it was all a bit of a blur at the time.
 
An enjoyable blur, however, partly because the producer, Giles Edwards, nudged me firmly and wisely with regard to content and delivery, but mainly because the other speakers were so good: polyamory, anger, and the Caribbean as paradise explored with energy and wit.
 
Meanwhile, back at the business end of things (aka actually writing the book), it’s getting exciting again. First up, two  intriguing Parisian composers, Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre and Lili Boulanger.
 
Even a few days into the research, the conventional picture of at least one of the women is starting to look deliciously dodgy – more another time, but that’s her above. Right now, I’m getting everything together ahead of a research trip to Paris, not to mention dusting down my schoolgirl French in preparation for the archives of the Bibliothèque nationale. It took me about 30 minutes to write a three sentence e-mail to the librarian there, and one of those sentences was apologising for my French. But, as I did in Florence and Lucca, Berlin and Leipzig, Vienna and Venice, I will be wandering the streets in which Jacquet de la Guerre and Boulanger lived, soaking up the atmosphere – and not just in Paris, but beyond, whether Versailles, where Jacquet de la Guerre was sent, aged 8, as a gift to one of Louis XIV’s mistresses or Mézy-sur-Seine, where Lili Boulanger, aged 24, was taken to die in ‘peace’ in the final months of World War One, with Paris itself under threat.
 
Here’s the music Boulanger wrote in her final months, poignantly entitled D’un matin de printemps (Spring Morning): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5iG1dyYo18.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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