Sunday, July 13, 2014

Peter Benoit - Overture to the opera Charlotte Corday

On this day in 1793, the fiery revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat was assassinated in his bath tub by Charlotte Corday who said:
I knew that he was perverting France. I have killed one man to save a hundred thousand.
She was right - Marat was the man behind the Paris Mob, the street muscle that allowed the Jacobins to fuel the Terror.  In short, he was sort of the French Revolution's Che Guevara.  Corday paid for her act at a date with Madame Guillotine.  It is ironic that Marat would die on the day before Bastille Day, but pretty much everything about this whole episode has become cluttered with romantic iconography - not least being Jacques-Louis David's painting of the event.

Peter Benoit was a forgotten Flemish composer from the 19th Century.  His style was melodramatic (likely because that was the sort of music that was in demand and paid the bills), but also (and rather incongruously) composed a fair amount of sacred music including a Te Deum.

Today he's entirely forgotten.  That's a shame, because this isn't at all bad.  It's admittedly not top shelf, but it is a solid, craftsman like opening to the opera.  He works in themes from La Marseillaise, so you'll be able to hum along.

1 comment:

libertyman said...

Was at the lake, forgot to comment at the time.

Always a new bit of knowledge. Thanks for doing this!!