• This TRULY deserved the Academy Award (2011)

    Feb 28 2011, 11:51


    The 83rd Academy Awards honored the best films of 2010.

    Oh well, I think something quite quintessential went wrong this year AGAIN, considering that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (respectively the "representative" judges) nominated - AND AWARDED - one of the most boring filmscores I ever listened to, written for one of the most boring movies I ever watched. And considering that one of the most gorgeous filmscores was nominated as well but has been ignored…

    The "winners" this year are Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross with their music for "The Social Network", the semi-biographical movie about the founding of the social networking website Facebook…

    This is such a shame it's even disgusting! I wonder what could possibly be wrong with those judges (Who are they anyway?), that they award such a… thing… in the same year that John Powell's "How To Train Your Dragon" is nominated? (And he deserved the Oscar so much!) WHAT?

    I am - as I was last year (and also the year before that one…) - rather sad for Alexandre Desplat, who was nominated for "The King's Speech". (He has neither won the award for "Fantastic Mr. Fox" in 2010 nor for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" in 2009.) I have to admit though that "The King's Speech", the wonderful score that it is, isn't really that much "Oscar-worthy"… However, it definitely is pretty much MORE worthy than the Reznor/Ross stuff.

    I also would've been quite content with an award for Hans Zimmer's score for "Inception", which is rather unusual as I don't like Zimmer too much, but I have to say that his last effords really grew on me over time - and with lots of listens. (I also have to revoke the statement I made in my last Oscar related journal entry concerning Zimmer's "Sherlock Holmes": I quite like it now. I might have been a little bit too harsh then…)

    So what's left to say? Ah, there was another nominee… A.R. Rahman, the man responsible for "Slumdog Millionaire", was nominated for "127 Hours". I have nothing to say about that one. Even "The Social Network" was more interesting.

    What a disappointment. Yet again.
  • Ataraxia - "Llyr"

    Apr 16 2010, 22:20



    "Shakti, energy of life fed-up by the generous roots of earth, ruby-red snake, help me descovering the natural laws hidden inside me."

    I. Siqillat
    II. Scarborough Fair
    III. Quintaluna
    IV. Llyr
    V. Elldamaar (part 1)
    VI. Evnyssien
    VII. Klepsydra
    VIII. Elldamaar (part 2)
    IX. Gayatry Mantra
    X. Borea

    "The protagonist of this new musical voyage of ATARAXIA is an avatar, a spirit of light, a healer and a shaman who has taken different form and bodies and has traveled all over the ages till nowadays. This being was born in the mythic Age of Gold, a time in which the male and female sides of human beings were in perfect harmony, a time in which humans didn’t need to pray Gods because they were Gods themselves, a sparkle of light shone inside them. They were wise, complete, fulfilled, in harmony with all the living beings surrounding them. Then the Silver Age came, a time in which women, the feminine essence managed to keep a strict relationship with the primigenial forces, Nature laws, all what was sacred and sacredness itself. After, the Age of Bronze came, it was the time of warriors, of virility, brute force and blood, courage and violence. Then we got here, to the Age of Iron, our time, a phase were, apparently, all the values have been turned up-side-down, the links among women, men and primigenial forces have weakened, beauty, grace, harmony and intensity have been forgotten. Crossing different times in different forms (a noble horse, a centuries-old forest, a huge mountain, a sacred drum, a prophetess, a deep abyss, a holy source, a wind, a healer), living different experiences in places very far the ones from the others with traditions, codes, beliefs that were, sometimes, actually distant, our avatar and shaman kept on following his/her path keeping his/her flame alight and vivid, always believing that an awakening, a new awareness in balance with the laws of earth and cosmos can be still achieved. Through music as well and through singing, as voice is made to celebrate, to heal...

    Music of sand, music of leaves, music of the colour of the desert and the one of an old wood, red and green; songs inspired by both the celtic and eastern traditions with breaks of elegiac and bewitching moments. It is time, oh Bards, to embrace your lyre and sing your sacred chant..."

    They call me healer
    The call me shaman

    I know the power of Action
    And how to mantain the right distance
    from the flowing of the events

    I was born in the Age of Gold and Light
    I seeded gardens of amaranth
    Hearts of earth, moon and sun
    Fragments of spirit, soul and body

    In the Age of Silver,
    A time in which woods were temples
    And sources were sanctuaries,
    I was Llyr, a noble horse running
    In the sacred forest of Scarborough

    In the Age of Bronze, I was a mountain,
    The unreachable peak of
    Marches of warriors on my rock,
    Songs of maids on my meadows

    Before being a peak I was the abyss
    Before being light I was darkness and chaos
    Testing my limits and fears
    I restored to health
    And I connected to the Essence
    Now I know what Grace is.

    I was
    the drum of a talented healer
    I diffused vibrations of sound and life
    As I am the channel through which the subtle energy flows

    I was
    Klepsydra, source that filters and purifies
    I gave new birth to the ones who looked for catharsis
    In my waters

    I was
    Borea the wind
    Inspirer of the pilgrims who set on ancient rocks
    wisely and patiently waiting
    to Learn life teachings from arcane stories

    I was
    Shining and Ancient,
    Bringer of the energy of Nature the Queen,
    Living mirror of the cosmos

    Who owns power inside her/him
    Manages power outside

    Who is a cure for her/himself
    Is a remedy for the others

    Who is able to keep the balance among the elements composing her/his body
    Spreads harmony all around

    Now I know
    The nature of the vibrations
    produced by my instrument
    And I tune what is dissonant
    I turn into music what is noise
    I transform into light the thick fog

    I am
    The shaman,
    Door of self-counsciousness and strength

    I survived to the hard proof,
    A Sudden and bad illness,
    Using it to grow and belong

    The shell has broken up
    The appearance has vanished

    I am free
    As the poison as turned into a remedy
    That flows from the deep roots up to the top of the branches
    And spreads out.
    Here and Now

  • This TRULY deserved the Academy Award (2010)

    Mar 14 2010, 19:19


    It's the year 2010 and I really am deeply satisfied with the Academy's choice, isn't that quite surprising? It is for me… The nominees in the category "Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score" were James Horner for his music for the box-office hit "Avatar", Alexandre Desplat for "Fantastic Mr. Fox", Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders for their compositions for "The Hurt Locker", Hans Zimmer for "Sherlock Holmes" and Michael Giacchino for his score for Walt Disney's "Up".

    Although I really hoped that either Desplat or Giacchino will win this year's Oscar I was one of those who were quite sure that the definite winner would be James Horner, as "Avatar" - the movie itself as well as the score - are so very overestimated. Surely the music is nice and contains a wonderful battle cue, but it's neither groundbreaking nor even interesting or surprisingly beautiful.
    I also feared that Hans Zimmer could be the successful one. I say "feared" because I was absolutely disappointed with "Sherlock Holmes". I had hopes that, for such a nice movie, even Zimmer could compose a lovely score, without his ever the same stupid heroic motifs and all the boring bang-boom-bombast, but he wrote something so uninteresting that I cannot remember the slightest bit of it.
    Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders wrote a nice score for "The Hurt Locker" (which was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won six of them as well as six British Academy Film Awards). The music is powerful but not too pushy, subtle but not boring… - but for my liking the score does not stand so good on it's own. It underscored the film greatly, but I don't think that it is worth the Academy Award in the same year that Desplat and Giacchino are also nominated.
    That being said, I have to mention that I'm a little sad for Alexandre Desplat. Of course I am, as he is one of my absolute favourite composers and I love and adore nearly all of his works to date. He wrote wonderful music for "Fantastic Mr. Fox", with beautiful themes and some lovingly funny cues, and although the score is quite short I really think that it would have made the second place. That is, if there were other places than just the actual winner, of course. I can't wait to get my hands on the album with the additional music, containing the Abbey Road mixes.
    Now as for the winner, Michael Giacchino's gorgeous score for "Up" - what other can I say as "I love it"? It suits the movie perfectly. It is bold as well as gentle, beautiful and lovely and just the first three tracks alone are enough to bring me to tears - not only because I had to cry watching the movie as well and thus associate the music with the wonderful sequence about the childhood and marriage of Ellie und Carl and, finally, Ellie's death…

    So, I have said enough, I think. I am satisfied.
  • This TRULY deserved the Academy Award (2009)

    Feb 28 2009, 5:43


    This year - AGAIN! - I am seriously disappointed with the Oscar award winning score - and most especially with the jury's decision. The nominees for the "Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)" were just GREAT - with one exception! Alexandre Desplat was nominated for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", and I also really like James Newton Howard's work for "Defiance", Danny Elfman's "Milk" (both of which are GORGEOUS!) and Thomas Newman's "Wall-E" (the last one is quite lovely), but AGAIN they chosed the only score which SERIOUSLY does not deserve that award.

    I mean, come on, the music is simply NOT good enough, especially when you compare it to Howard's, Desplat's and Elfman's works. Just because the US have that revolutionary president now who will safe the whole country and make everything good and enjoyable again does NOT mean that they have to award everything which fits their mood, as it was the case with A.R. Rahman's "Slumdog Millionaire"-shit I suppose… I'm so angry an disappointed. It's not that I give too much about those awards, but it's nevertheless the most important one - and obviously the jury consisted of IDIOTS! I would have been quite happy with an award for "Milk" or "Defiance", really, but THAT ONE? No!

    I think I just lost my faith in the Academy for ever…
  • Ataraxia - "Oil on Canvas"

    Feb 28 2009, 5:02


    "Oil On Canvas"

    Part I
    "I am a tear the sun let fall"

    "Like Perceval,
    I went through nights and days of unforeseen events and enlightenments.
    Visions always accompanied me pouring fresh and bright into my eyes.
    My body strolls along a black and greasy downtown street
    but the limpid visions project me elsewhere.
    It is no effort to me being somewhere rather than somewhere else,
    I don't take decisions, I let myself be transported by a flow of images
    that becomes a flow of life.
    I possess the gift of ubiquity."

    Part II
    "Le souffle animé"

    "I have lost and regained my chant with its ancient colours
    which shine whenever I plunge into the vegetation of many greens."

    Part III

    "When burning summer
    embroiders on the earth
    purpureal drapes
    with gracious fingers,
    and it advances, with sparkling face,
    in precious sandals,
    on the black ground of now greener grass,
    I become receptacle of chants."

    Fengari (from "Kremasta Nera" - 2007)
    The bay is white in silent light (from V. Vandelli "A Day of Warm Rain in Heaven" - 2004)
    Pastorale (from "Simphonia Sine Nomine" - 1994)
    Zelia (from "La Malédiction d'Ondine" - 1995/2007)
    Mon Âme Sorcière (from "Sueños" - 2001)
    La reine des hommes aux yeux verts (from "Paris Spleen" - 2006)
    Blood of Cherries (from "Saphir" - 2004)
    Daytia (from "Lost Atlantis" - 1999)
    Dulcamara (from "Concerto No. 6: A Baroque Plaisanterie" - 1996)
    Flée et Fabian (from "Nosce Te Ispum" - 1991/2008)
    Eaudelamer (from "Mon Seul Désir" - 2002)
    Temenos (rare track - 2007)
    The Ocean Green (from V. Vandelli "A Day of Warm Rain in Heaven" - 2004)
    Rashan (exclusive new track - 2008)

    "Oil on Canvas" is a 96 pages book featuring three different chapters dedicated to three inspired photographers. The photos follow three different paths: the first one, with photos by Raffaella Graziosi, is dedicated to ancient Italian houses in ruins, nobleness and beauty confronted with decay; the second, with photos by Mick Mercer, features enigmatic statues standing in wonderful English gardens and parks; the third, with photos by Livio Bedeschi, is dedicated to Mediterranean landscapes, nature and wilderness.
    Each image is married with Francesca Nicoli's verses and lyrics (in her mother-tongue Italian and translated into English, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese/Brasilian) and to Ataraxia's music as a collection album, featuring 14 tracks (taken from all their repertory and from V. Vandelli's solo album).

  • Behold the sheer FRENCH BEAUTY of it all!

    Set 15 2008, 3:05

    "I like Frenchmen very much,
    because even when they insult you
    they do it so nicely."

    (Josephine Baker)

    I think it's no secret that I love France, that I would kill to live in Paris, that I adore the French language (although unfortunately I don't speak it too fluent because I'm too lazy) - and that I have a - for me - quite untypical crush on so many French artists. I wouldn't call it "obsession", but maybe it's nearly something like that, who knows. So as I listened to a lot of what is generally called (oh-how I hate it that last.fm won't accept the cedilla...) I thought of writing a journal entry for quite some time now, but I wasn't sure which form I should use. I think I will just present (as in "list") those artists I like the most, accompanied by their album I think is the best so far, the one I think is the most representative - or just the only one I know.

    In addition to this journal entry I created a playlist to make all of those wonderful singers easily accessable (for the subscribers, of course) without having to use a radio station, especially because I of course only chosed two or three songs I think are good to show the variety of each of the people I talk about as well as of the whole (oh-how I hate it that last.fm won't accept the accent - and the cedilla...).

    I just love Bénabar! Bruno Nicolini makes what I consider to be quite typical "chansons modernes", sung with a wonderful voice and interpreted with a lot of gorgeous humour. His third album Les risques du métier was a big success and made him quite famous, but with Reprise des négociations he sings himself like a piercing bolt of amor right through my heart.
    Bruxelles and Le Méchant de James Bond are two of my absolute favourites of his songs, the first one being one of the VERY FEW that make me want to dance and jump on my bed, the second one just being beautiful.

    For me personally Jeanne Cherhal was always the artist I had to think of immediately when I read or heard about the term "nouvelle scène française". Her songs are fresh, very modern, a little bit playful, but without being childish although she seems to tend to don't take herself too serious.
    Unfortunately and sadly the only available song is La Valse Des Etiquettes. I really would like to show you the charme of "Canicule" and "Rondes larmes", both from her latest album L'Eau...

    Miossec, although known to me by name for a few years now, is a quite new discovery for me musically, because I never heard a song by him (or at least I can't remember) until I got his compilation album "- BREST OF - (Tout ça pour ça)" (named after his town of birth) at the end of last year. I'm already in love, and although I know most of his albums now I still recommend his "Best of" as it shows perfectly the variety of his styles.
    Christophe Miossec too is not really available at last.fm yet, and the only song streamable is Chanson Pour Nathalie. I would say, though, that you should listen to the new versions of "La fidélité" and "Que devient ton poing quand tu tends les doigts", both of which are just... great!

    Joseph D'Anvers, who released two album so far, if I'm not informed badly, caught me totally off guard with his song "Entre Mes Mains" from his second release "Les Jours Sauvages". His music has a lot of "Rock'n'Roll" to it, but not too much, as that would surely make me abhor it, and also the slightly "jazzy" tunes he uses sometimes really add something more intimate to his pop-rock style.
    So far only his debut Les choses en face is streamable, from which I recommend Comme un souffle and Nos jours heureux.

    Claire Diterzi's third album Tableau de Chasse was somewhat of a revelation for me. Her voice is phanatastic, her modern, mature, sometimes even avantgardish compositions are often so experimental without loosing their popsong-like structure that I seriously was a bit spechless at first listening.
    I remember that L'odalisque reminded me a bit of Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares... The second song I force you to listen to is the absolutely gorgeous La vieille chanteuse!

    Vincent Delerm, son of the famous French author Philippe Delerm (who you might probably know for his work "La Première gorgée de bière et autres plaisirs minuscules", "The Small Pleasures of Life" in English), gained a lot of positive critics for his self-titled debut album Vincent Delerm, which I think is still his best one, although many people seem to tend to prefer his third release Les Piqûres D'Araignée (which is horribly tagged by the way...). Delerm writes beautiful humoristical and sometimes cynical songs he usually interpretes alone with his voice and a minimum of instrumentation besides the piano.
    I absolutely recommend "Fanny Ardant et moi" and "Le monologue shakespearien" (his most popular song is "Tes parents" though), but, sadly enough, there are none of his songs available.

    Pauline Croze is always the second female artist after Jeanne Cherhal I associate with the "nouvelle scène française". The first time I heard of her was when I watched a short documentation about Miossec on the Franco-German TV network "Arte" where the fact was mentionned that she was an opening act for him.
    Her eponymous debut album Pauline Croze, that came out in 2005, features the two beautiful songs Larmes and Dans la chaleur des nuits de pleine lune.

    Oh my god how I just adore Arman Méliès! Not only does he look heartbreakingly beautiful on the pictures for his latest release Casino, but this album itself is nothing less than a pure gem of a record. I really liked his last release Les Tortures Volontaires, but Casino just left me ruined. I don't know what he made with his voice between those two records, but whatever it was it had an astonishing effect. The arrangements for his new songs are absolutely phantastic, that being said: those are melancholic folk-pop-chansons of the highest order, and I can't recommend it enough!
    His latest releases aren't streamable - however, you should listen to "Le Soupir du Monde" and the title song "Casino" anyway - so I dare you to give this unbelievably talented artist a try by listening to Encore une fois and La conjuration des phalènes!

    I think now it's time to talk a little about Françoise Hardy, the QUEEN. First I thought about don't mention her at all as I surely cannot say something new and as she is already known to most of you anyway, but as I have to realise quite often that so many people don't know her latest works and only listen to the songs from her Yé-Yé-period I believe that this could be a good place to recomend what I consider to be her very best works to date: Tant De Belles Choses and, her latest one, (Parenthèses...). Don't get me wrong, I love nearly all of her songs, and many of them have their own little place close to my heart, but, as difficult it may be to compare her early and her later compositions, I believe that these two albums simply are near to what one would call perfect.

    Of course the messages she transports with her albums are always quite simpel, but never profane or banal - but I have to admit that this may just be the case for me because they are presented in French... From the 2004 record I recommend the wonderful Soir De Gala and the title song Tant De Belles Choses., the main refrain line of which is just too beautiful to be Kitsch: "L'amour est plus fort que la mort."

    Her latest album (Parenthèses...), released in 2006, features twelve songs (some being wellknown, some being rarities), interpreted as duos with quite an impressive selection of singers and musicians: Alain Souchon, Françoise's husband Jacques Dutronc, their son Thomas Dutronc, Benjamin Biolay (the last two of which I have yet to write about), Rodolphe Burger, Henry Salvador, Julio Iglesias, even Alain Delon - and the wonderful classical pianoplayer Hélène Grimaud, who accompanies Françoise on the insanely pretty La Valse Des Regrets.

    Keren Meloul, who makes music as Rose, released her self-tiled debut album Rose in 2006, and I wish I could have been able to listen to her earlier - I discovered her music, which I embraced very deeply, somewhen in the beginning of this year.
    She writes pretty, light, soft and gentle folkish chansons with mature, poetic and intimate lyrics, like Saisons and Sombre Con, which are my absolute favourites.

    Another artist who is already very precious to me is Daphné. I was a bit unsure what to think about her when I listened to her debut L'émeraude, as it is a little bit too experimental "pseudo-trip-hop'ish" for my liking, but I was intrigued from the first time by her voice. When her second album Carmin came out in 2007 and I heard the first song (I think it was Les Phénix) I was so very happy that I haven't "dismissed" her. That whole album is just pretty, but the most pretty song of all is Le Petit Navire! Really, you will LOVE it! The second one I chosed is L'Homme Piano.

    Although Dominique Ané, who releases his music as Dominique A, is a very influential musician who has worked with lots of different singers, musicians and producers he is probably best known for his collaborations with Yann Tiersen for Monochrome, Les Bras De Mer (from the album Le Phare) and Bagatelle (from L'absente). He has a very varied style and wrote less "classical" chansons but minimalist rock songs in the beginnin of his career, but turned to a more gentle form later.
    The album which I like the most at the moment is Tout Sera Comme Avant, which features the beautiful Elle Parle À Des Gens Qui Ne Sont Pas Là and Bowling.

    For a long time I wasn't really interested in discovering Keren Ann, I have to admit, although I knew her before since 2000, when she released her solo debut. It's not too surprising though that I gave her a try when I realised that she worked together with Benjamin Biolay, the arrangements of which for her records gave him the possibility to finally earn a contract himself. The second album La Disparition is the one that made me fall in love with her music because of her soft, fragile and caressing voice, singing over beautifully gentle melodies. Besides, it's an album on which you hardly find songs that are sung in English.
    Surannée and Les Rivieres de Janvier are the two songs I like the most, especially the first one (the second one should actually be "Les rivières de janvier", so I apologize for forcing you to listen to an incorrectly tagged song).

    So as I already wrote about Benjamin Biolay two times I should mention his gorgeous double-CD album Négatif now. At first I thought that I have to chose his debut Rose Kennedy, which is really beautiful (especially Les Cerfs Volants and Les Joggers Sur La Plage), but it actually were songs like Little Darlin' and Glory Hole that made him so precious for me. His dark, melancholic voice and his phantastic arrangements, the way he uses strings and discrete brass instruments in some songs are just an incredibly pretty mixture.

    Daniel Darc, the former singer of the New Wave band Taxi Girl released his beautiful album Crèvecœur in 2004. Most of the people seem to enjoy this years album Amours Suprêmes (the title is a reference to A Love Supreme by John Coltrane) more, but I still prefer the gentle, slightly melancholic, soft, romantic songs on Crèvecœur.
    I suggest you listen to Rouge Rose and Je Me Souviens, Je Me Rappelle.

    I love Emily Loizeau! I was presented with a special edition of her brilliant debut album L'Autre Bout Du Monde out of the blue the year it came out, and adored her ever since. I higly recommend "Jasseron", her duett with Franck Monnet, and "Comment dire", but as the only songs available are the title song L'Autre Bout Du Monde and Je Suis Jalouse I will put those two in the list - and I can live with that quite well, as both pieces are wonderful compositions and beautifully sung - simply great!

    Olivia Ruiz released her debut album J'Aime Pas L'Amour in 2003 after she was featured in the French TV show "Star Academy". Though she released her last album Chocolat Show, a concert recording, last year it is still her second one, La Femme Chocolat, which is considered her best, and I can't disagree. It features the gorgeous Non-Dits, a duett with Christian Olivier, as well as the even more gorgeous title trackLa Femme Chocolat, both of which were also singles.

    So I have to admit that I listen to Calogero sometimes. I say "admit" because I would have never guessed that I could ever like something of that type of music he makes, as it is just pop, to put it simple, and I usually abhor modern popmusic. But his second, self-titled album Calogero is really nice, especially in situations that are strenuous and you want to force an easening effect. The hit-single En apesanteur and Prouver L'Amour are the two songs I like the most from that album, although Prendre Racine, another single, is beautiful too.

    I really can't understand why Françoiz Breut is nearly unknown in any other country than France. Formerly known as Françoiz Brrr, she met Dominique A somewhen in the beginning of the 90s, who helped her starting a career as a singer. Her self-titled album Françoiz Breut was released in 1997, and the secon one, the phantastic Vingt à trente mille jours, three years later. Her songs are often a little bit experimental, with somber and melancholic melodies, combined with her wonderfully pretty voice. Both her debut and her second album feature the unbelievably, insanely, gorgeously beautiful Si tu disais, and you are really fortunate because it is streamable on last.fm. I promise you will love that song! The only other song is La Rue ne te reprendra pas, what makes me a bit sad because I would love to show you "Silhouette minuscule"...

    Bertrand Betsch's music is just perfect for activities like cleaning the apartment, washing the dishes, watering the plants, or dancing through the rooms. In 2005 he released his album Pas De Bras, Pas De Chocolat, a nicely easening record full of fresh pop-chansons like the title song, but I decided to recommend Pas de bras (disco version), because it is just even more happy; the second song I chosed is L'Ancienne Peau

    Constance Verluca is one of my latest discoveries. Her last years debut album Adieu Pony features such a wonderful mixture of songs and sounds so very French that I felt in love immediately. Of course it is my own subjective notion of the cliche of what does sound "French" that made me love it, but hey, at least I do, right?
    I really would like to put "Judas" and "C'est Faux" into my playlist, but sadly Constance isn't streamable yet.

    Thomas Fersen released his first album le bal des oiseaux in 1993 which gave him success over night and let him earn the title "Révélation masculine" in '94. Since then he released six other albums, a triple live album, a best-of and a DVD, changing his musical style from one album to the next, playing rock and folk-rock as well as blues and somewhat jazzy chansons. At the moment my favourite of his works is his 2005 release Le Pavillon Des Fous, from which I would recommend "Hyacinthe" and "La Chapelle de la Joie", but he is one of those artists who are not available here.

    Another one of my more newer discoveries is Renan Luce, a nice young singer who released his first album Repenti two years ago in 2006. The two songs I recommend are Monsieur Marcel and La Lettre, which is his most favourite song so far together with Les Voisines.

    I think the best way to label the music by La Grande Sophie as pop-rock, or maybe rock-pop (is there a difference actually? Maybe rock with pop elements and pop with rock elements, or the like...). Her debut "La Grande Sophie s’agrandit" came out in 1997, but she first became really famous with her second record Le Porte-bonheur in 2001. The one album I like the most though is her fourth one, La Suite..., that was released in 2005. It's a nice listening experience for situation when, for example, Bertrand Betsch is too "poppy" for me and Constance Verluca or Rose too "folky". I don't listent to Sophie too often though, as I'm not often in the mood for light-rock-music like hers (of course that does surely not mean that she has not made pure popsongs)... Anyway, I say you should listen to "Psy psychanalyste", but this song is so badly tagged that it hurts my eyes, so I chosed La Suite, Le Milieu, La Fin and Les Bonnes Résolutions for you.

    And here we have Thomas Dutronc, the son of Françoise Hardy and Jacques Dutronc. He released one album so far, Comme Un Manouche Sans Guitare, in 2007, and the whole record is full of happy, sunny, gypsy-folky-jazzy-whatever songs, the most beautiful one being J'Aime Plus Paris and Solitaires, a duett with Marie Modiano.

    Adrienne Pauly, who exclusively acted in films for about eight years until she discovered her love for the piano released her eponymous first album Adrienne Pauly in 2006 and earned two nominations for the "Victoires de la Musique" for "Artist -" and "Album Discovery of the Year". Her album is a nice light French-rock work with wonderful songs like "Pourqoi" and "L'amour avec un con". But unfortunately we have here again an artist who is nearly unavailable - with the exception being the song J'veux Un Mec (Radio Mix).

    Marie Laforêt definetely is my PRINCESS, considering Françoise Hardy the QUEEN. She played in 39 movies, the last role in this years "Les Bureaux de Dieu", and she released so many records, albums, compilations, best-ofs etc (at least more than 30, I think), and sung so many songs, that it is really difficult to decide which work to chose. I think that Les vendanges de l'amour is perfect though. Of course it is as difficult to decide which song could possibly the most representative, but as I donÄ't think that I'm in the position to judge this I just chosed two of her chansons which I believe are simply pretty: the song of the same name as the album, Les vendanges de l'amour, and A Demain My Darling.

    I think the name Alain Bashung is known to most of the people who are at least slightly interested in the - let's call it "somewhat pseudo-intellectual" - European musical culture. He released 13 albums, three live CDs and a compilation since his debut in 1977 and earned quite a lot "Victoires de la Musique" - three in 1999 for his album Fantaisie Militaire and one additional afterwards in 2005 for having composed the best album of the last 20 years.
    Although the two songs that are considered the best ones from this album are La Nuit Je Mens and Aucun Express (I think) I chosed Au Pavillon Des Lauriers and Sommes-Nous instead, simply because I like them the most.

    This shall be enough for now, this whole journal entry is already way too long. But as I really want to write something about all the other French artists I have in mind, wonderful people like Henri Salvador, Clarika, CALI, Alain Souchon, Arthur H, Véronique Sanson and so many others, most of which I really love, I surely will write another entry soon.
  • These TRULY deserved the Academy Award (1990-1981)

    Giu 15 2008, 15:22

    This is part 3/8 of my journal series about filmmusic composers and their works that won the Academy Award of Merit for Scoring, Original Score, Scoring of a Musical Picture, Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, Music Score - substantially original and whatever the names have been throughout the years. But of course it's mostly about the works which I think actually should have won the award...
    In this entry I will deal with the years between 1981 and 1990, in a reverse chronological order as in the first entries of course. Although we would have a peculiarity here, because in '82 and the following year not only an Original Score was awarded but also an Original Song Score and its Adaptation or Best Adaptation Score, I will ignore that fact and concentrate on the Original Score.

    Here are links to the other journal entries belonging to this (still shamefully incomplete) series:

    Part 1 (2008-2001)
    Part 2 (2000-1991)


    1990 was the first year that Alan Menken won an Oscar, and as I already wrote in the last journal I do NOT agree with that decision. However, he was awarded for "The Little Mermaid", although James Horner's "Field of Dreams", Dave Grusin's "The Fabulous Baker Boys" and John Williams with "Born on the Fourth of July" and with "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" were competing, all of which I think are better. I would not say "much" better, and I don't like Grusin's score though, but nevertheless I don't think that Menken deserved the award. It is my believe instead that "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" was and actually is by far the best nominated score and a sensational work in general.


    Although Dave Grusin didn't receive the award in 1990 he won one year before with "The Milagro Beanfield War". That was actually one of the scores I didn't before know and listened to for the first time because of these journals, and I found my early skepticism confirmed. Hans Zimmer's "Rain Man" was nominated that year as well as "The Accidental Tourist" by John Williams. Two things I have to admit honestly: I find Williams' score absolutely banal, and I like Zimmer's, quite a lot in fact. Normally I can't take Zimer too seriously as he tends to plagiate many of his motives over and over again and use them in so many different works, especially themes for heros and epic battle scenes, that everything sounds the same. But "Rain Man" actually is an exception, maybe because he composed it in his very first years as a filmmusic composer, and I really understand why it is considered as his breakthrough work. It wasn't the best in 1989 though. I REALLY would love to attribute George Fenton's wonderful work for "Dangerous Liaisons" with the award, because I absolutely love it (he combined his own neoclassical compositions with baroque pieces and new arrangements to a gorgeous and unique mixture), but also this one wasn't the best. What I think was the greatest score is Maurice Jarre's "Gorillas in the Mist".


    This was the year that saw the award-winning composition "The Last Emperor", composed by David Byrne, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Cong Su. This score is truly phantastic, so you will probably believe that I'm stupid or silly or maybe both because I say that it didn't deserve the Oscar. Oh, there was a wonderful work done by John Williams for " Empire of the Sun", and I also quite like Ennio Morricone's "The Untouchables", but actually I think that "The Witches of Eastwick" was the best nominated score. Seriously, I listened to that piece quite a lot over the last week and I think it's a stunning work - the music fits the different moods of the movie very good, the used themes are sometimes even impressive (I especially like the three "seduction"-motives).


    The winner '87 was Herbie Hancock's "Round Midnight", what means that this work is somewhat out of competition for me: "Round Midnight" is a movie about Jazz. Although I can't say that I don't like this style of music (what a ridiculous statement by the way, as there are so many different types of Jazz - I guess I know only THREE or maybe four) I am simply not used to it and my ears are not trained. But I never said that I try to be as objective as possible, so I honestly say: No, my friends, I do NOT think that Herbie Hancock composed the filmmusic that deserved the Oscar that year, but James Horner did. That choice also is quite unusual for me as the piece I speak about is "Aliens", which is quite experimental, very electronic actually, and not representative for my musical preferences in general - but I like it nevertheless, a lot, in fact. Although Hancock's work might be absolutely great I find Horner's work rather phantastic, even revolutionary, and that's enough I think. I'm wondering, though, why Leonard Rosenman was nominated for "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home". I really cannot see why this could be worth the award.


    I remember well when I saw "The Color Purple" for the first time, that heartbreakingly wonderful movie starring Whoopi Goldberg in her first role. The music for that lovely movie, composed by Quincy Jones, was nominated for the Academy Award for the Original Score in 1986. Actually a lot of people besides Quincy Jones were nominated: Jeremy Lubbock, Rod Temperton, Caiphus Semenya, Andraé Crouch, Chris Boardman, Jorge Calandrelli, Joel Rosenbaum, Fred Steiner, Jack Hayes, Jerry Hey and Randy Kerber. But "The Color Purple" did not win, nor did Maurice Jarre's "Witness", nor Bruce Broughton's "Silverado" or Georges Delerue's "Agnes of God". The legitimated winner was John Barry for his PHANTASTIC composition "Out of Africa". Wasn't Meryl Streep just simply amazing in that movie? Oh, à propos Meryl: three years before playing Karen Blixen she played the title role in a devastatingly sad movie we have yet to talk about...


    This is the tenth choice I agree with so far, and the second for this decade. John Williams was nominated two times, for "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and for "The River", Alex North was nominated for "Under The Volcano" and Randy Newman for "The Natural", but the outstanding piece of music this year was, absolutely, Maurice Jarre's "A Passage to India". I love most of Jarre's pieces, and I'm happy for every score he composed that was awarded.


    Ah, this was strange. I expected the decision for the year '84 to be quite simple and easy, as I thought from the very moment on that surely "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi" must have been the best score. I didn't know the awarded piece by Bill Conti, "The Right Stuff", but I was sure that it wouldn't be that good. How deadly wrong I was. Conti really knew how to build tension when he composed that music, and I can even imagine the space flights without ever having seen the actual movie. However, there were other scores to discover. I don't know many works by Michael Gore, and "Terms Of Endearment" was one of them. I really had no idea what the movie is about, but after listening to the - gorgeous - music I had a closer look and decided immediately that I have to watch it. Then there was Jerry Goldsmith's "Under Fire". That was a little bit disappointing; I usually like nearly everything Goldsmith wrote, but this one was rather uninterersting. What I found quite intriguing was Leonard Rosenman's "Cross Creek" I also had never heard about before, but although I thought seriously of actually letting the award where it already was I decided that nevertheless the music for the "Star Wars" episode is the best one.


    So we had Meryl Streep playing Karen Blixen, and now we have her playing Sophie Zawistowski, the title role of Alan J. Pakula's drama "Sophie's Choice". When I first saw this movie I had no idea that this was the role for which Mrs. Streep was awarded with an Oscar, nor did I know that the music, composed by Marvin Hamlisch, was nominated. I remember me sitting in front of the television CRYING, nearly atl the time. This movie is such a gem I was speachless. I can understand why "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" won the award, and would understand if George Fenton and Ravi Shankar would have won it for "Gandhi", but nevertheless I just have to say: "Sophie's Choice" deserved it more than any other that year!


    The choice in 1982 is absolutely inacceptable! The nominees were Dave Grusin's "On Golden Pond", Randy Newman's "Ragtime", Alex North's "Dragonslayer" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark", by John Williams of course, and the score that actually won the Oscar is "Chariots Of Fire", by Vangelis. This is so ridiculous. I mean, come on, seriously: the first Indiana Jones movie, that phantastic music! Even the "Raiders March" alone is worth the award. "Ragtime", "On Golden Pond" and "Dragonslayer" are almost just NOT interesting in my opinion, not compared to Williams' phenomenal composition. But "Chariots Of Fire"? Alright, it's not really bad, but "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is simply a MILESTONE!


    1981 was the year in which David Lynch's "The Elephant Man" was nominated for metaphorically hundreds of awards but actually earned just few of them. The music for this film, composed by John Morris, was nominated for the Academy Award but was inferior to Michael Gore's "Fame". I really can't understand what's so special about that music. Anyway, another nominee was Roman Polanski's "Tess" with music by Philippe Sarde. That score as well as the composer was totally unknown to me - and what have I missed! I already knew the movie though, but couldn't remember much of it when I listened to the music for this journal, but I will surely watch it again soon. Then we had "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back"... And although I first thought about to decide for "Star Wars" I came to the conclusion that what I actually consider to be absolutely breathtaking is John Corigliano's "Altered States". This piece is so great I can't recommend it enough.

    Well, what I only guessed at the beginning is now quite sure for me: this whole thing will be a lot more work than I expected. Sometimes it is really not easy to decide whether to chose this or that specific composition... However, this is so very interesting, and I already discovered many pieces I don't want to miss although I know them only for a few days now.
    But I'm sure the next decade will be even more difficult...
  • These TRULY deserved the Academy Award (2000-1991)

    Giu 12 2008, 18:25

    This is the second part of eight I will write about what I consider to be music for movies, films, screenplays or whatever you want to call it that deserves to be awarded with the Oscar.
    As I wrote in the last journal entry I originally only thought about my opinion concerning this "honour" to create my personal tag ""

    However, this entry will be a little different from the others as in the years 1996-'99 two Oscars were given, one for the Music Score of a Dramatic Picture and one for a Comedy Picture.

    Here are links to the other journal entries belonging to this (still shamefully incomplete) series:

    Part 1 (2008-2001)
    Part 3 (1990-1981)


    2000 was the initial year, so to speak, for writing these journals, as I realised that Rachel Portman's absolutely phantastic work for "The Cider House Rules" wasn't the winner. Although I am very contended with the fact that John Corigliano received the award for "The Red Violin", which I enjoy every time I listen to it (as much as the film, by the way, which to watch is quite pleasurable), I just think that Portman's score is simply amazingly beautiful and was truly the best that year. It must have been quite a hard choice nonetheless, as the other competing scores were Thomas Newman's "American Beauty", John Williams's "Angela's Ashes" and Gabriel Yared's "The Talented Mr. Ripley", all of which are truly phantastic. So, although I would have chosen another one, those nominations left actually nothing to wish.


    '99 was the last year so far in which two composers were awarded, and Stephen Warbeck received one statue for his music for "Shakespeare in Love" in the category comedy or musical picture. This is totally fine with me, as this work is lovely and pretty, whereas I really don't like, for example, "The Prince Of Egypt". Hans Zimmer was nominated for the music and Stephen Schwartz for the featured songs, and I REALLY can't stand those Disney movies with all that ridiculous singing. And to be honest, I find Zimmer's music most of the time just boring. Oh, speaking of Disney, another nominated film was "Mulan", composed by Jerry Goldsmith, Matthew Wilder and David Zippel... Then there was Randy Newman's "A Bug's Life", and I only mention it here because I find it quite intruiging that this movie is based on the main idea of Akira Kurosawa's movie "The Seven Samurai". I'm not interested in Newman's music that much though.

    The awarded composer for a dramatic picture was Nicola Piovani with "La Vita è Bella". I find this choice quite inacceptable. Even John Williams's "Saving Private Ryan" would have been a better choice, but there was also David Hirschfelder's GORGEOUS composition for "Elizabeth"! The other two were "The Thin Red Line" by Zimmer and "Pleasantville" by Newman, and as I said before, I have ressentiments against these two composers, so my choice is absolutely clear.


    I'm really happy that Anne Dudley won the Oscar, as her work for "The Full Monty" is quite nice, BUT I would be happier if she had composed "My Best Friend's Wedding", but as that's not the case I'm sorry but have to present James Newton Howard with the naked man. I mean, as much as I admire Danny Elfman, I would not believe if someone would tell me that "Men in Black" is worth the award.

    Ha, surely I will not please most of the people who enjoy listening to filmmusic with this entry, but as I believe that not many will read what I write this doesn't matter - and I wouldn't care anyway. But, you see, I simply don't think that James Horner's composition for "Titanic" deserved the Oscar that year, but John Williams for "Amistad" actually did... Oh, of course the other three are quite wonderful also, namely "Good Will Hunting", "Kundun" and "L.A. Confidential", but Williams music is just so very EPIC and underlines the movie SO GOOD...


    Aah, '97 was such a wonderful year, was it not? The two awarded scores are PHANTASTIC, and most of the other nominees are too. But first things first: The most gorgeous Rachel Portman received, as the first woman ever in the history of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an Academy Award of Merit for her music for the adaption for the screen of Jane Austen's wonderful "Emma"!!! I shed myriads of joyful tears every time I listen to it. Um, anyway, forget it, but isn't that score just GREAT? However, strangely enough this year saw one of the few scores by Randy Newman which I quite like, and even more strange is the fact that I even like the movie: "James And The Giant Peach". And I also enjoyed watching "The First Wives Club" and listen to Marc Shaiman's music... But the mainly important thing is, of course, that Rachel won.

    Oh, how deep was my desire to chose Patrick Doyle's incredible music for "Hamlet" to be the score that deserves the award the most, but, actually, I cannot change it, Gabriel Yared's "The English Patient" is just insanely wonderful. (But let me tell you this: it's not that bad and Mister Doyle has no reason to be miserable about not being chosen, as he won the award the year before. Well, um, actually he didn't, but in MY world he did...)


    My goodness, Disney again. And, how awful is this: "Pocahontas"! Alan Menken won the Oscar together with Stephen Schwartz for that terrible music composed for that terrible movie. No no, that's not acceptable. I chosed Thomas Newman and his score for "Unstrung Heroes" instead. Surely most of you would say that Randy Newman (again that person) was the one who deserved the award for "Toy Story", but, believe me, that's just not true...

    Ah yes, here it is: Patrick Doyle's award-winning music for "Sense and Sensibility", Jane Austen of course, again Jane Austen, it couldn't be anything else... That beautiful music for that lovely movie, casting Emma Thompson, who won an academy award for the best adapted script and was also nominated for the best leading role. Well, actually "Il Postino" won, composed by Luis Enríquez Bacalov (or just Luis Bacalov if you want). How VERY laughable! I mean, PLEASE, another nominated score that year was "Braveheart", another one "Apollo 13", and one of those would have been a really good choice, but "IL POSTINO"? That's just not fair.


    1995, another year of pure disgrace. Four phantastic compositions were nominated, and one shitty piece of crap. Now guess which of those won? Yes, you're right, the shitty piece of crap did. This is so disappointing. I mean, we had Thomas Newman with "The Shawshank Redemption" and with "Little Women", both of which are stunningly beautiful, then there was "Forrest Gump", and Alan Silvestri did such a good job with it, and don't forget Elliot Goldenthal's "Interview With The Vampire", which also is so wonderful. All those works are incredible, but who won instead? Hans Zimmer did, with "The Lion King", that horrible movie that is decorated with those atrocious songs written by Elton John. I even can't understand why it was nominated at all. Anyway, I believe that "Little Women" was the outstanding composition that year, and thus award it myself.


    1994 the winning score was "Schindler's List" by John Williams. Truly his music - for a wonderful movie by the way - is very good... but I had to choose between two compostions which are better, more differentiated, more expressive - and less "affirmative", so to speak. Elmer Bernstein's "The Age Of Innocence" is the first one. What a pleasurable surprise it was to see that this wonderful composition was nominated for an award (I didn't knew that before...), but, unfortunately for this work, a breathtaking gem was also nominated: Richard Robbins's "The Remains of the Day". This needs no further explanation, it's simply one of the best filmscores I have ever listened to. But surely you realised that this again is a score for a film that featured Emma Thompson...


    One year before the nomination for "The Remains of the Day" Richard Robbins was nominated for "Howards End", another of all those phantastic movies produced by Merchant Ivory Productions for which Robbins composed the score (and in which Emma Thompson played a wonderful leading role). Of course he didn't win. The responsable people truly were all idiots as they decided that (Argh, I can't write that name again) a Disney film featured the best music: Alan Menken's "Aladdin"... There was this wonderful, wonderful work done by Mark Isham for "A River Runs Through It", and there was John Barry's "Chaplin", which is also just great - but they chosed Menken, what is especially so very terrible because this wasn't the first time. In fact, it was his THIRD award...


    The second time Alan Menken was the "winner" of the Oscar wasn't such a horrible choice in my opinion as his work for "Beauty and the Beast" is really quite nice - but nothing more, and thus it didn't deserve the award. What I believe instead to be the one score in 1992 which is outstanding enough is James Newton Howard's "The Prince of Tides". Oh, John Williams's "JFK", of course, is really good though.


    1991 saw three phantastic Oscar-nominations, Maurice Jarre's "Ghost", Dave Grusin's "Havana" and John Barry's "Dances With Wolves", and I am very happy that Barry's insanely beautiful compostition was awarded. I have to admit though, that I would have agreed to any other of those three to be the best anyway...

    You can continue with Part 3 (1990-1981) if you like.
  • These TRULY deserved the Academy Award (2008-2001)

    Giu 10 2008, 16:15

    A few days ago I glanced over a list of the films the music of which won an Academy Award for Original Music Score, just out of curiosity, as I wanted to know what films were nominated in the year 2000 when John Corigliano's "The Red Violin" was the winner. What I found out, what must have been painfully buried deep in my little heart, was the crucial fact that the most gorgeous Rachel Portman WASN'T the winner with her phantastic music for "The Cider House Rules"! Don't get me wrong, I love Corigliano's score, but, I mean: WHAT? IMPOSSIBLE!

    That was the point when I started to have a closer look at that list and it was absolutely horrible. That experience, of course, is quite individual and subjective, depends on taste and blablabla, and although I always say to others "de gustibus non est disputandum" I decided that THIS is enough!

    I decided furthermore to create a new personal tag for me with which I will mark all of those filmmusic scores that I think deserve the golden boy, whether they actually received it - or not. And thus "" was born...

    Here are links to the other journal entries belonging to this (still shamefully incomplete) series:

    Part 2 (2000-1991)
    Part 3 (1990-1981)


    This was the year, I think everybody has it still in mind - AND SHOULD INDEED, that saw the winning of the absolutely phantastic composition of "Atonement" by Dario Marianelli, a choice that would have been 100% my own. Although Marco Beltrami and James Newton-Howard did wonderful jobs with "3:10 to Yuma" and "Michael Clayton" I really believe that Marianelli's work is just outstanding.


    This was truly disappointing. To be perfectly honest, I have not the slightest idea why Gustavo Santaolalla was chosen for the award for "Babel" the year Alexandre Desplat, Philip Glass and Javier Navarrete were also nominated - for scores which I think are by far way much better. But although "Pan's Labyrinth" is wonderful and lovely and I also like "Notes on a Scandal" quite a lot I have to chose Desplat's "The Queen", as it was, in my opinion, simply the best.


    Another HORRIBLE year for me! As in the following year (and as I just wrote) was Gustavo Santaolalla the composer who received the Oscar, this time for "Brokeback Mountain". Puh, the movie is nice, but why does everyone seem to be so mad about it? And the music, this twelve minute long cute playing with the guitar or whatever it was, interrupted by all those country songs...? My god, where those people deaf or just mad? "Pride & Prejudice" was nominated and did NOT win?! UNBELIEVABLE!


    Ah, just wonderful. 2005 saw five absolutely excellent compositions of the highest order, and the jury chosed one of the most phantastic scores I've ever heard to be the winner. With the rivals being John Debney's "The Passion of the Christ", James Newton-Howard's "The Village", John Williams's "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and Thomas Newman's "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events", truly the best that year was Jan A.P. Kaczmarek's "Finding Neverland"!


    This wasn't easy for me. The first moment I was seriously thinking that Danny Elfman's "Big Fish" would be a better choice than Howard Shore's "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" because I like it so much, but that would be quite ignorant, as Shore's music for this part of the trilogy is just brilliant.


    Oh, this, my dear friends, is the year of the most crucial mistake of all times in the history of awarding filmmusic. The score, that received the Oscar this year, was "Frida", composed by Elliot Goldenthal. I enjoyed watching the movie quite a lot, and I also think that the music fits the visuals, and neither do I think that the music is bad nor do I dislike it... But it is ABSOLUTELY FEEBLE-MINDED to award it with the f*cking Oscar the same year Philip Glass' divine masterpiece "The Hours" is competing.
    Seriously, that is one of the most breathtaking pieces of music you will EVER hear, and they gave that statue to Mister Goldenthal??? NO!


    The choice in 2002 was also quite bad, and I can't understand it. The winner was Howard Shore's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring", which is a good score, and I remember me being quite enchanted and loving those wagnerian motives that were used (I hated the theme for the hobbits though, as I abhor the hobbits...), but this is NOTHING compared to the phantastic work done by James Horner with "A Beautiful Mind", which deserved the award so badly...


    I was quite satisfied with the choice for 2001. I like the music for Hans Zimmer's "Gladiator", but mostly because of the collaboration with Lisa Gerrard I think, and the score isn't remarkable enough in my opinion, whereas I think of Tan Dun's music for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" as absolutely wonderful. Of course such a choice can never be 100% fine with me when that means to ignore the nomination for my darling composer Rachel Portman, who was a rival with her pretty score for "Chocolat". But although I love this music I sorrowly have to admit: Tan Dun's is just better in this case...

    This is it for now. I'm done with tagging to the year 1960 I think, and I will try to continue tagging my favorites to the very beginning in the year 1935. Of course that means a lot of listening for me, as not every single score is known to me, so I'm sure this will take quite a lot of time.
    However, I will try to write the next entry with the years 2000-1991 within the next week.

    Feel free to comment, and write whatever you want, I'm open for harassement and baiting...

    You can continue with Part 2 (2000-1991) if you like.
  • Giovanni Buonaventura Viviani

    Apr 20 2008, 17:56

    Giovanni Buonaventura Viviani, sometimes referred to as Giovanni Bonaventura Viviani (or even Gio Bonaventura Viviani), was born in Florence in 1638. As of the age of 18, he occupied a position as violinist at the court of Innsbruck, due, in all likelihood, to the instigation of a member of his family, Antonio Maria Viviani, who had been there quite some time, serving as chaplan, organist, secretary and even librettist, and had been ennobled in 1654 by Archduke Ferdinand Karl. Among other duties, the young violinist participated in the musical accompaniment of German comedies and carnival cortèges. Like most of his Italian colleagues, he was let go in 1663 by Sigismund Franz, the new archduke.

    As Sigismund Franz left no heir, the Tyrolean branch of the Habsburgs died out in 1665, and the country reverted to Emperor Leopold I. We do not know hwere Viviani lived for the next nine years, but in 1672, he made a triumphal return to Innsbruck, where the emperor had just appointed him Kapellmeister to the court. He was in charge of the music for Anna de' Medici, widow of Ferdinand Karl, and her daughter Claudia Felicitas; but both left to settle in Vienna the following year, as Claduia Felicitas was betrothed to the emperor. It was also in 1673 that Viviani had his opus 1, twelve sonatas for two violins, bass viol and basso cantinuo, published in Venice, a great centre of musical publishing. He then turned to Augsburg, the piblishing centre of Southern Germany, where, in 1676, he brought out his Motets, opus 3 and Sonatas for Solo Violin, opus 4. At the end of the month of May be it before or after this publication, he resigned from his functions in Innsbruck, after having barely served for four years: in the absence of a court, this Court Kapellmeister could hardly flourish.

    Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli's twelve "Sonate a Violino solo, per chiesa e camera", opus 3 and 4, published by Viviani's chapel colleague in Innsbruck in 1660, apparently had a powerful influence on the young violinist that he was at that time. Although the larger-scale works he would write later for the same formation and with an equivalent title do not feature quite the extravagance of their models, some of them also show such alternation pf melodious and virtuoso passages. On the other hand his works seem to attest to an "Austro-German" influence, so to speak: in particular, they are reminescent of Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, who held a postion in Salzburg, not far from Innsbruck, or else Johann Heinrich Schmelzer, assistant-master of the Imperial Chapel, and Johann Jakob Rosenmüller, who practised and published in Venice. It is precisely through this form of the sonata da camera that Viviani seems to have played an intermediary role between the violin sonata of Northern Europe and Arcangelo Corelli: the latter, after playing in Rome under the composers direction the same year these sonatas were published there, would, in turn, begin his suites of dances with a free introduction, a practice therefore non-existant in Italy...

    Everything leads us to believe that Viviani went to Venice, where his opera "Astiage" and his arrangement of Francesco Cavalli's "Scipione Affricano" (1664) were staged in the course of the winter on 1677/78. It was during this stay in the City of the Doges that he had his opus 4 violin sonatas, initialy published in Augsburg, reprinted. Then he continued on to Rome where, during the Lenten season of 1678, he directed a Latin oratorio most likely from his own pen. The performance, intended for the great Brotherhodd of the Oratorio des Santissimo Crocifisso, took place in the Curch of San Marcello. Vkiviani was paid 10 scudi; Bernardo Pasquini, the organist, received 1.50 scudi, and Corelli - who was going to become the illustrious musician we are familiar with - had to settle for one scudo. Engaged for the 1768/79 season as musical director at the Teatro San Bartilomeo in Naples, he was unable to honour the comission of a new oratorio for 1679. At the same time, a Roman publisher took back a certain number of copies of the Augsburg edition of the opus 4 sonatas to offer them for sale. As for the composer, he was ennobled like his relative.

    Flushed with their success in Naples, his troupe had to continue the season aster Easter and even ensure the following season until the impresario of the theatre was forced to flee his creditors. It is probable that Viviani then made his way to Milan, a city that also belong to Spain, where "Astiage", his popular opera, was staged again. He did not return to Naples until 1681, when he was again appointed musical director of a lyric theatre, but this time it was the Theatro dei Fiorentini, his previous house having been destroyed by fire. A new opera of his, given at the royal palace in the presence of the viceroy, was also a success. 1682 saw the creation of two oratories, and the revival of "Astiage" at the Teatro San Bartolomeo, which meanwhile had reopened.

    After losing trace of him, we do not meet up with Viviani again until 1686, this time in Calabria, where he is maestro di capella to Prince de Bisignano, for whom he wrote a new opera. However, baraly six motnhs later (at the beginning of 1687), he returned to his native Tuscany, having been appointed maestro di capella at the cathedral of Pistoia, a position from which he resigned in 1692 following the performance of an oratorio in Florence. Meanwhile, several sacred and secular vocal works were published in Bologna and Florence under opus numbers 5-7. The publication, in 1693, of "Solfeggiamenti", singing exercises for two voices, is the last element we know about the agitated life of this little violinist who had become a Kapellmeister to the court, the opera and the Church, and who composed in nearly all the musical genres of his time, creating one of the most important works for solo violin in the 17th century.