CLÁSICA PLUS TALKS #1
“THE PUCCINI PROBLEM”
by Juan Lucas
Wednesday 28th July 2021 / 6:30pm Civivox Condestable / Free admission
Duration: 60 minutes
2024 will mark the centenary of the death of Giacomo Puccini, the last of the great Italian opera composers and, according to the ranking of the most performed operas in the world, the most popular.
However, and despite the fact that no one disputes his primacy in the operatic canon, nor his status as “legitimate heir to the throne of Giuseppe Verdi”, the author of such essential titles as La bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly has had to deal with an implacable hostility from part of the intelligentsia and many international critics; hostility that dates back to the times when the composer was alive and has lasted to the present day. His status as a public favorite, his ability to musically handle the most primal emotions, as well as his taste for sentimental, simple and direct themes, have raised the suspicions – and even the rancor – of important members of the European intelligentsia, from Theodor W. Adorno to Gérard Mortier. However, so far in this 21st century, more and more voices have been raised demanding justice for those who consider Puccini – with good reason, in the opinion of the speaker – as one of the greatest and most inspired creators in the history of opera.
This lecture aims to analyze and shed some light on the ‘Puccini problem’, that is, the radical historical divergence between the enormous popular and professional acceptance of the great Italian composer and his artistic prestige, constantly questioned.
CLÁSICA PLUS TALKS #2
by Eva Sandoval
Friday 30st July 2021 / 18h Civivox Condestable / Free admission
Duration: 60 minutes
Did you know that Camille Saint-Saëns was the first renowned composer to write film scores? Or that he himself starred in a silent film from 1914? Or that he was one of the first classical musicians to make music recordings? The French composer is full of surprises.
Coinciding with the centenary of his death, which took place on December 16, 1921, we will discover little-known aspects of his personality and career, like the fact that he was also a writer, or that he studied disciplines as diverse as entomology or mathematics, or that he worked as an active member of the Astronomical Society of France. We will also revive his great travels around the world (China, Egypt, India, South America, Scandinavia …), with a special attention to his repeated trips to Gran Canaria, and we will remember the painful tragedies that he suffered on a personal level. In addition, we will contextualize his best and most well-known compositions (The Carnival of the Animals, the Macabre Dance, Samson and Delilah or his Symphony No. 3) and we will base their essential importance for the development of French music of the time. In short, a broad overview of the figure of a musician who remains widely unknown to many of us.
CLÁSICA PLUS TALKS #3
“MÚSICA, EXISTENCIA Y SENTIDO: UNA REFLEXIÓN (ROMÁNTICA) A PARTIR DE SCHUBERT”
by Carlos Javier González Serrano
Sunday 1st August 2021 / 6pm Civivox Condestable / Free admission
Duration: 60 minutes
Life, in its multifaceted development, contains many elements in common with a piece of music: numerous are the silences, hiatuses and pauses, but there are also no shortage of tremolos, allegros and agitations that dominate our mood throughout an existence to which, like a melody in search of its harmony, we continually try to give meaning.
Music, as Eugenio Trías vehemently defended, contains a particular logos; and not only that, that is, it not only contains its own and particular order, but also, and above all, provides knowledge. The object of this intervention, which will be based on the musical structure of Franz Schubert’s Quintet in C major for String (Op. 163), will try to unravel what knowledge, and of what kind, music brings us. As the thinker Jeanne Hersch wrote, “If music truly transcends time, this means that it allows us to achieve, in an extremely mysterious and intangible way, something that men have always dreamed of and that is totally denied to them, namely: what it would be at the same time, and in the same act, the capacity to wish and to live the fullness”. This way, music would put in communication that thing that occurs in time with that “other” that transcends it: the human being is, in this sense, the being of the limit, of the interstitial space. Like a piece of music that makes its way through silence, and that also aims to improve it (in Beethoven’s expression), the individual gives himself the act of being in a constant poetic-creative exercise: musical, dancing. Music is “time made soul by virtue of number”, as María Zambrano writes in The Man and the Divine (El hombre y lo divino): in this statement the woman from Malaga brings together the millennial secrets of the orphic mysteries and the pythagorean and platonic wisdom, and with that she appeals to the musical nature of existence, which occurs in number, in time, in the constant passing of moments, which are everything and nothing at the same time. Music as a link between being and nothing. That is why you have to “go through everything; you have to go through the hells of life to get to hear the numbers of your own soul”, we read in Delirio y Destino, since if life is – or can become – a joy, it is because it contains the joy of a song to be deciphered, and from which sometimes, as suggestive insinuations, we only hear its echo. As Zambrano stated, life and death are “two modes of total music”: life and death are only accidents of the incessant melodic happening, more or less abrupt, more or less irregular, that occur in a perpetual harmonic game of perspectives that, far from excluding each other, they complement and perfect each other. A “Poet”, for Zambrano, is someone who is “devoured by nostalgia” by spaces of lost meaning, “suffocated” more than any other human being by the “narrowness” of the space that is given to us nowadays. Music, ultimately, pushes us to remain always hungry for reality, never be closed off to it. To endow it, without rest, with a sense … that always escapes.