This concert podcast explores relationships between visual arts and music, specifically the work of American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), his influence on French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918), and their mutual connection to Japan.
During the 1870s and 80s, Whistler created a series of dark, atmospheric paintings of nighttime landscapes that he called "nocturnes," such as this one depicting the south bank of the Thames River. His inspiration for these works came, in part, from Japanese woodblock prints, while the term "nocturne" was suggested to Whistler by one of his patrons, Frederick Leyland, an amateur pianist. Leyland, in turn, borrowed the label from Frédéric Chopin's piano works of the same name, written in the 1830s. Some years later, Debussy was inspired by Whistler (rather than Chopin) when he composed orchestral works that he in turn titled "nocturnes" in the 1890s.
Nocturne: Blue and Silver—Battersea Reach; by James McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903); 1870-1875; oil on canvas; gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1902.97a-b
Experience the painterly palette of sounds created by composers Claude Debussy and Enrique Granados in this concert celebrating the 150th anniversary of Debussy’s birth. The virtuosic Calefax Reed Quintet, from the Netherlands, performs its own lush arrangements of Debussy’s works, which were deeply influenced by the American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler. This concert was presented as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on March 2, 2012, and made possible in part through support from the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.
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