Friday, July 20, 2012

Montage # 63 - Scotland / L’Écosse

As of August 24, 2012, this montage will no longer be available on Pod-O-Matic. It can be heard or downloaded from the Internet Archive at the following address / A compter du 24 août 2012, ce montage ne sera plus disponible en baladodiffusion Pod-O-Matic. Il peut être téléchargé ou entendu au site Internet Archive à l'adresse suivante:

pcast063 Playlist

English Commentary – le commentaire français suit

The Great Escape takes us from the plains of the West to the moors of Scotland.

As the third-largest ethnic group and among the first to settle in Canada, Scottish people have made a large impact on Canadian culture since colonial times. According to the 2001 Census, 15% of Canadians claim full or partial Scottish descendence. This would include my paternal Grandmother, and the Harvie family (Marion, Jim and their daughter Amber) who operate my daughter's dance school. Of course amongst Canada’s famous and favourite Scots we can claim Canada’s first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, the Father of National healthcare Tommy Douglas and an actor of Irish descent, James Doohan, best known for his role as the Scottish Chief Engineer of the Starship Enterprise Montgomery Scott (AKA  "Scotty"in the television and film series Star Trek.

One more adoptive Canadian of Scottish descent is inventor Alexander Graham Bell. In 1870, at age 23, Bell, his brother's widow and his parents travelled to Canada, ultimately purchasing a farm near Brantford, Ontario. Although his parents remained in Brantford, Bell moved to the US to teach at the Boston School for Deaf Mutes, where he continued with his experiments in his spare time. After achieving success and financial prosperity with the invention of the telephone and the subsequent creation of the phone company that bore his name, Bell and his wife built a summer retreat and starting in the Summer of 1885, the Bells had a vacation on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. The retreat was named Beinn Breagh (Gaelic for 'beautiful mountain'), and in Bell’s words:

"I have travelled the globe. I have seen the Canadian and American Rockies, the Andes and the Alps and the highlands of Scotland, but for simple beauty, Cape Breton outrivals them all."

Bell passed away at Beinn Bhreagh on August 2, 1922 and the Government maintains it as the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, where visitors learn of Bell’s other technical innovations in the fields of aviation, hydroplaning and even sheep breeding!

It would be naïve, or even insensitive of me to suggest that Scottish culture is limited to kilts and bagpipes, though both of them are predominant in this great Bugs Bunny short that always comes to mind when thinking of Scotland. After all, there are no La Brea Tarpits in Scotland.

Cultural depictions of Scotland abound in film and theatre: MacbethBrigadoonHighlanderBraveheart and Rob-Roy

Robert Roy MacGregor, usually known simply as Rob Roy (anglicised from the Scottish Gaelic Raibeart Ruadh), was a famous Scottish folk hero – sometimes recognized as the “Scottish Robin Hood” - because he stole from the rich and gave to the poor. He was considered an outlaw of the early 18th century by the nobles and leaders. Hector Berlioz’s Intrada di Rob Roy is a rollicking tribute to the Scottish warrior, composed in Nice and Rome, around the same time Berlioz was working on his Symphonie fantastique.

Felix Mendelssohn travelled to Scotland and England in 1829 and of that trip we have two important musical reminiscences. The Fingal’s Cave Overture (which we will feature in a few weeks in another montage) and a symphony which he sketched and put aside until 1841. The Scottish Symphony was completed in January of 1842 and was first performed on March 3rd of the same year, in Leipzig. After a successful performance of the symphony in England, Mendelssohn received permission to dedicate it to Queen Victoria. What is especially noteworthy about the work is its unique formula: all four movements are played attaca, that is without pausing between them, giving a unique sense of continuity to the work. This is not programmatic music, but rather mood music, bringing the listener into the headspace of the composer during his trip.

A German composer, a Spanish virtuoso – a very strange pairing of individuals that somehow takes us back to our Scottish connection… Following Paganini, the most famous nineteenth century violinists were German-schooled Joseph Joachim, and the virtuosic Spanish showman, Pablo de Sarasate. Max Bruch wrote more for Sarasate than did any other composer, and while Bruch was fonder of his Second Concerto, the Fantasia Freely Using Scottish Folk Melodies (the present work's formal title) proved to be far more popular.

Bruch freely admitted the influence exerted upon the work by Sir Walter Scott, whose writings had ensnared Bruch's attention during a conducting stint in England in 1880. The Fantasia opens with a slow, solemnly bardic introduction for brass and harp, and then a recitative for the soloist on a soft cushion of strings. This leads directly to an Adagio cantabile in E flat major, based on the song "Auld Robin Morris," with the harp nearly as prominent as the violin's decorations. The G major second movement is based on "Hey, the Dusty Miller"; the third movement is a set of plushly sonorous variations on the song "I'm Down for Lack o' Johnnie."

Bruch gave his finale the same warlike marking, Allegro guerriero, that Mendelssohn used in the last movement of his Scottish Symphony. "Scots wha hae" is the dominant folk melody, legendarily sung by Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Bannockburn. The violin adds excitement by playing on two, three, even four strings simultaneously until a tender reprise of the first movement. "Scots wha hae" returns, however, to conclude the four-movement work rousingly.

I think you will love this music too

Commentaire français

La grande évasion nous transporte des plaines d'Alberta aux terres hautes d'Écosse.

Savieez-vous que 15% des Canadiens se disent de descendance Écossaise? Parmi ceux-ci nous puvons compter ma Grand-Màere paternelle, Eugénie Heavey, la famille Harvie qui opère le studio de danse où évolue ma cadette, ainsi que d'illustres Canadiens tels le premier Premier Ministre du Canada,  Sir John A. Macdonald, et tant d'autres figures politiques et artistiques... Quoiqu'Irlandais d'ascendance, le comédien canadien James Doohan, interpréta le rôle de l'ingénieur "Scotty" dans la franchise de Science-Fiction Patrouille du Cosmos (en anglais, Star Trek).

Sans doute l'Écossais le plus célàbre à avoiir habité au Canada fut l'inventeur (certains diront le prétendu-inverteur) du téléphone, Alexander Graham Bell. Il émigra au Canada avec ses parents en 1870, jeune adulte de 23 ans.

L'Invention du téléphone eu lieu aux USA, mais le premier apopel interrubain eut lieu entre les villes de Paris et London... en Ontario. M. Bell et son épouse firet construire un domaine sur l,ïle du Cap Breton en Nouvelle-Écosse, un des rares endroits en Amérique du Nord où le gaelique se parlait encore couramment. Le domnaine, Beinn Breagh (ou belle montagne), fuut le siàge de nombreuses activité d'intérêt àl'inventeur, dont l'aviation, les hydro-moteurs et... des expériences de génétique avec des moutons. Le domaine est exploité par le gouvernement et comprend un musée (visitez Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site,)

Le patrimoine culturel Écossias est riche - que ce soient les romans de Sir Walter Scott, ou les légendes rapportées par d'autres auteurs: MacbethHighlanderBraveheart and Rob-Roy

Robert Roy MacGregor, mieux connu sous le nom de  Rob Roy est un héros Écossais, un Robin des Bois qui prebnait des riches pour donner aux pauvres. Hector Berlioz composa son  Intrada di Rob Roy isdurant la composition de sa Symphonie Fantastique, en passage sur la Côte d'Azur. La miusique évoque les péripéties du héros, tout en saupodrant des motifs écossais.

Felix Mendelssohn fit un voyage aux îles Brittanniques pendant son adolescence (en 1829) et ce pè;erinage nous a vallu deux compositions du paysage Écossais. La première est sa célèbre ouverture "Les Hébrides" qui sera du mnontage que je réserve pour une réflexion plus tard dans notre série, et l'esquisse d'une symphonie qu'il mit de côté pour plusieurs années. En 1841, il reprend ces esquisses, et produit sa troisième symphonie - sous-titrée l'Écossaise), dont les quatre mouvements sont joués sans interruption (attaca).

Pablo de Sarasate, avec le violoniste allemand Joseph Joachim, est sans doute le violoniste le plus réputé de la deuxième moitié du XIXe siècle et le compositeur allemand Max Bruch est sans doute celui qui (à l'instar de Brahms pour Joachim) lui a dédié le plus grand niombre de compositions. Parmi les préférées du tandem et des mélomanes, on compte cette fantaisie inspirée de mélodies Écossaises (la Fantaisie Écossiaise).

Bruch use de mélodies telles "Auld Robin Morris",  "Hey, the Dusty Miller", "I'm Down for Lack o' Johnnie." et l'hymne de guerre "Scots wha hae" dans ce merveilleux collage pour violon, orchestre et harpe.

Bonne écoute!.