Day of Special Interest led by Peter Medhurst

It has long been acknowledged that the worlds of the visual and aural arts link with nextraordinary power when one medium inspires another. This day of special interest, which spans over 600 years of the arts, analyses and discusses a range of related works, bringing together the music of Martinu with the frescoes of Piero della Francesca, Botticelli’s Birth of  Venus with Respighi’s Trittico botticelliano, Bocklin’s Isle of the Dead with Rachmaninoff’s symphonic poem, and Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie with the piano playing of Alfred Ammons.

The Day of Special Interest is presented with digital images, video, recorded music and live examples sung and played at the piano.

Peter Medhurst appears in the UK and abroad as a musician and scholar, giving recitals and delivering illustrated lectures on music and the arts. He studied singing and early keyboard instruments at the Royal College of Music and at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

Timetable (subject to alteration)  with content

10.00 am Coffee and biscuits

10.30 to 11.30 – Session 1

After a brief introduction to the subject of ‘music inspired by paintings’, three paintings are discussed that have produced direct musical responses in famous composers. The couplings are these:

1. Music: Mussorgsky – Pictures at an Exhibition (1874)

Painting: V Hartman – various paintings displayed in an exhibition in St Petersburg (1874)

2. Music: A. Rachmaninov- Isle of the Dead, (tone poem for orchestra (1908)

Painting: A Bocklin – Isle of the Dead (5 known versions of the painting (1880-6)

3. Music: O Respighi – Trittico Botticelliano (1927)

Paintings: S Botticelli – La Primavera (1482), Adoration of the Magi (1475), The Birth of  Venus (1486)

11.30 to 11.45 Short Break

The theme of music drawing inspiration from identifiable paintings continues with the following material:

1.  Music: B Martinu: The Frescoes of Piero della Francesca (1955)

Painting: Piero della Francesca – Frescoes in Arezzo, Italy of The History of the True Cross (before 1466)

2. Music: F Liszt – Hunnenschlacht (c1850)

Painting: W von Kaulbach – Hunnenschlacht (c1850)

Half way through this second session, the theme is reversed and before the lunch break, the subject of ‘paintings inspired by music’ is introduced. Peter Medhust plays John Field’s  Nocturne No 5 and Chopin’s Nocturne in Em Op 72 No 1 on the piano and discusses the use of the word ‘nocturne’ in the works of James Wistler.

1.00 to 2.15 – Lunch

2.15 to 3.30 – Session 3

The last session of the day explores the wealth of 19th and 20th century paintings that connect with specific musical works and musical genres. The following connections are made:

1. Painting: M vonSchwind – Symphony(1852)

Music: L van Beethoven –Fantasia in C for Piano, Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra(1808)

2. Painting: F Leighton: Lieder ohne Worte (exhibited 1861)

Music: F Mendelssohn- Leider  ohne Worte  (1829 – 45). Leighton borrowed the title

3. Painting: W Kandinsky – Impression III Concert (1911)

Music: A Schoenberg – Three Piano Pieces Op II (1909)

4. Painting P Mondrian – Broadway Boogie Woogie  (1942-3)

Music: Selection of Boogie Woogie music from the late 1930s and early 1940s