And so it begins: a few nights ago, my son and I started reading, “The Eiffel Tower – Gustave Eiffel’s Spectacular Idea” by Cooper/Bock. Hmmm; the book’s facts differ slightly (actually markedly) from what the Wikipedia entry has to say about the tower and who’s idea it was. Regardless, I knew we would be interested in the construction of the Eiffel Tower – all of those triangles – and the fact is, Gustave Eiffel was a brilliant, innovative, experienced architect and engineer. We also looked at some of his bridges, and his structural plan for supporting the inside of the Statue of Liberty.
Meanwhile, it occurred to me that we had never listened to anything by Gustav Mahler, so I started listening to a LOT of Mahler (a LOT because each and every piece is SO long), selecting compositions to share with my son. And all of a sudden, I thought: we have two “Gustavs” already, why not have this week be all about spotlighting noteworthy “Gustavs”? So we added:
- the art work of Gustav Klimt – we admired 12 of his landscapes (via a large calendar). We couldn’t stop looking at “Forest of Birch Trees” and “Island in the Attersee” (both 1902). We also spent time looking at every detail of his most well known painting, the shimmering richly patterned, gold-leafed “The Kiss” (1907).
- a review of the music of Gustav Holst, a composer we are familiar with. We listened to a few movements from “The Planets”, his Morris Dance Tunes, and the march from his “First Suite in E flat for Military Band” (we like listening for the monarch reviewing the troops).
- then, HOLY CATS, a short study of Gustave the Crocodile of Burundi (we located teeny Burundi on the globe). Oh, this is so sad: according to Wikipedia, “The World Happiness Report 2016 Update ranked Burundi as the world’s least happy nation”. Well, I am sure Gustave is not helping. So far, this 60 year old, 25 foot-long, bullet-proof baddest croc of them all, has killed 300 people. He is THE WORST. He is INFAMOUS (vocab word of the night).
Our music theme last night: what else? Gustav, Gustav, Gustave and Gustavo –
Mahler, Dudamel, and Holst
- we listened to Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor, movement III, composed about 1890. There are a lot of moods and themes in this 10 minute movement – lush harmonies, frenetic rhythms, the lure of the exotic melody, and do we hear birdsong? Conducted by the sizzling Gustavo Dudamel:
- we can hear Gustav Holst’s messenger god flitting willy-nilly all over the universe. We have probably listened to the “Mercury” movement from The Planets (composed in 1916) about 45 times. It just doesn’t get old.
- and for Gustave the Crocodile we listened to, “Never Smile at a Crocodile” from Disney’s 1953 movie “Peter Pan”. Music by Frank Churchill, words by Jack Lawrence. What’s not to like?
Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH