HANDWASHERS’ NEWSLETTER 9th May 2021

CARLETON’S COLUMN

This week I am sharing with you one of the classic Eastertide anthems of the twentieth century – My beloved spake by Patrick Hadley.

Patrick Hadley (1899-1973)

Hadley was born in Cambridge in 1899. His education was interrupted by the First World War, but he went on to study at Pembroke College, Cambridge (where his father was Master) and the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied composition with Vaughan Williams and conducting with Adrian Boult. He later joined the staff at the RCM before becoming a fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. His music is much influenced by Delius and, to some extent, folk music.

Hadley was not a prolific composer – he apparently found the process of composing exhausting – but he had a great gift for setting words to music. This anthem, the text of which comes from the Song of Solomon, is probably his best known piece and is part of the standard repertoire of any cathedral choir. This performance, sung by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge dates from 2019, and is directed by the late Stephen Cleobury: https://youtu.be/CjULGCnpYaI

SALOME Margaret realises another life-long dream. Guess where?

Salome

By Richard Strauss, libretto by the composer, based on Hedwig Lachmann’s

German translation of the French play Salome by Oscar Wilde (1891)

Performed by Opera Australia at Sydney Opera House

It felt almost surreal, strolling along the waterfront, decked out in evening dress in the late afternoon sunshine, and climbing the steps to the entrance of the iconic Sydney Opera House.   And yet here we were, on Saturday 9 March 2019, clutching our precious tickets for a performance of Salome by Richard Strauss.  

While we were enjoying our pre-performance dinner in the terrace restaurant, the Queen Elizabeth II cruise liner slipped slowly by as she left Sydney harbour to continue her voyage. She looked magnificent: vast and stately, a proud British ambassador and much admired by the crowds during her stop-over in the harbour.

We were so fortunate that Lise Lindstrom, the acclaimed American soprano, sang the title role.   The opera is in one act, lasting for about an hour and three-quarters, during which Salome is on-stage almost the whole time.   The Dance of the Seven Veils, in which Salome seduces Herod into granting her the head of John the Baptist, is perhaps the most well-known scene, and the first Salome, Marie Wittich, declared, “I won’t do it, I’m a decent woman”.   (You can hear Lise Lindstrom’s views on the seduction scene here: Lise Lindstrom – HGO Opening Night of Salome – YouTube)

The Dance of the Seven Veils may be the first thing to spring to mind when the opera Salome is mentioned, but the opera in its entirety is a dark portrayal of a dramatic and psychologically disturbing story, brilliantly expressed by the music of Strauss.   The final scene is a marathon monologue: it must be incredibly exhausting to sing – it is certainly riveting for the audience:   https://youtu.be/cweQCnT97KI

Afterwards we walked back through the harbour to our nearby hotel, turning for a final uplifting view of the opera house, blazing against the night sky. It was the realisation of another life-long dream.

EDITOR’S FOOTNOTE Sorry, folks, we don’t have video of Margaret performing the Dance of the Seven Veils. You’ll have to make do with this from the Sydney Opera House: https://youtu.be/8A0qgC3mGUw

HURDY-GURDY MEMORY for Tim brought back last week by Diana’s mention of Japanese Kotos:

I’m sure that even the ‘less young’ among you won’t remember hurdy-gurdys being played by street musicians. Indeed, like me, you probably didn’t know what a hurdy-gurdy was.

Some years ago, Lorna and I were taken to Edam by a Dutch friend, Miep, where, next to the Cheese Market, I spotted a card in a house window headed MUZIEKKAMER which Miep translated as ‘Music Museum’ and told us it was a museum of European stringed instruments. At the door we were greeted by the owner, Maisa van der Kolk who gave us a grand tour of her collection some of which I recognised; most I didn’t. Finally, she sat us down, and sang a Dutch folksong as she accompanied herself on a hurdy-gurdy.

Maisa with a Hurdy-Gurdy

The hurdy-gurdy is the stringed equivalent of the bagpipe in that it has a continuous drone, made by a rosined disc rotated by a handle which rubs on strings, Melodies are played on a keyboard that presses tangents—small wedges, against one or more of the strings to change their pitch. Here is a detailed view for the technically minded:

Hurdy-gurdys were used for folk entertainment in many parts of Europe and were used as accompaniment to church music when few village churches had organs. Here is one: https://youtu.be/bvNZeh6f8vE

As cheese addicts, it’s surprising what we stumbled across in Edam!

AND FINALLY . . .

Jane goes for a musical train ride: https://youtu.be/LNvZY6cOijo