Album Release

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Automne by Marcel Grandjany

It’s another drizzly morning here and I’ve got my coffee in hand, thinking about these last weeks of autumn. 
There have been a couple of blog posts so far that mention composers and artists that have created a work for each of the seasons- a series. This one describes a piece by a composer who wrote only for autumn...
Marcel Grandjany (1891-1975)
Automne... 1 movement/ 4 pages/ 3 minutes
Written (in New York I think) around 1927 for his student Barbara Blumenthal (never heard of her)
I love this piece because it’s a typical example of Grandjany’s writing: rich 7th and 9th-chords, haunting melody, COLOR through harmonics, glissandos... whether “simple” or “difficult,” Grandjany’s music is profound and pleasing. Never imposed. Gentleman-like. 
Grandjany was a French-born harpist and organist who spent much of his life in the United States. Words that I associate with him are:
Marcel Grandjany
Henriette Renie (his teacher)
Alphonse Hasselmans (his teacher)
Julliard (professor)
Montreal Conservatory (professor)
Manhattan School of Music (professor)
Sensuous (in performing and composing)
Spatula-like fingertips
American Harp Society (founder)
Carlos Salzedo (his “rival” colleague)
I’ve been reading a lot of Autumn poetry and came across this one. For me, it reflects the idea and atmosphere of this piece. Enjoy :-) 
My November Guest by Robert Frost
My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.
The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.
Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise 

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