A dream to soothe the breast

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 10.54.20 AMWho has not claimed to have said that architecture is music frozen in time? Perhaps music is architecture floating into our ear. Anyway, I was just now introduced to the French composer Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924). A blogger on music whose blog doesn’t seem to reveal his real name, beyond the moniker of “Kaz,” or whether he is a musician, has started following my blog. I went to see his blog. It was beautiful.

First off, Kaz introduces me to Fauré, with whose name I’m familiar among the pantheon of composers. I was not intimate with his music, though now that I’ve listened to it freshly I’m sure I have heard it. Well, Kaz’s intro suggested that Fauré might parallel in some way the classical architects whose work deviated from the canon enough to raise the eyebrows of those who protected it in those days. I am fascinated by that debate among today’s classical architects, so I decided to read on, and to listen.

“Fauré’s music,” writes Kaz, “is often thought of as bridging the gap between the Romantic and Modern eras of music, much like Beethoven’s was seen as heralding the end of the Classical period.” He adds:

Classic FM writes that “[Fauré’s] distinctive harmonies can be savoured like an exotic liqueur,” and indeed Fauré’s music is always of exquisite taste; perfectly balanced yet beguilingly sensual in its quintessentially French sound, it “flows effortlessly, magically combining Monet’s liquid cool with the warmth of a Pissarro landscape.”

The first piece Kaz links to is Élégie, Op. 24, played by the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra. It had melody so it was clearly not modernist atonal music. It was passionate, and eventually some notes of a slight discordance are introduced, but not in any offensive manner, just enough to make you wonder. The tune is sad, befitting an elegy I suppose.

Fauré was a romantic in that he liked to seduce women. One was the future wife of Debussey. Another, according to Kaz, broke his heart. His pain may be felt in his duet Après un reve for violin and piano, played by Janine Jensen and Itamar Golan, to a video of which Kaz links. It is lovely and sad, and tells a story that pulls at your heartstrings as if they were strung on a musical instrument and stroked by the teaze of circumstance.

I don’t know whether my comparison of Fauré to the heterodox classicists holds water. I do know that the architecture of, say, Louis Sullivan is not a bridge between classical and modern architecture. Modern architecture is a completely different beast, much as is atonal music. In both cases, the “bridge” was not used to span a natural progression in the evolution of an art form. No. The future was dynamited and is now, after years of loss in a dire wilderness, being reconstructed.

I trust that the excellent blog of Kaz and its beautiful music will add to efforts at reconstruction in his own realm. I will link to his blog.

[Update: Kaz is Karim Hakimzadeh, a London-born, New York-based “entrepreneur running a hedge fund specializing in disruptive technologies (I’ve invested in fields like gene-sequencing, life sciences, renewable energy and the like).” He says he is near launching an app for learning music.]

About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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