japonisme: the panama-pacific, that is! • part 3

23 September 2009

the panama-pacific, that is! • part 3

Aside from the construction of the $50,000 pipe organ, which, after the Exposition, will be placed permanently in the Civic Auditorium, the two most important musical items found on the schedule of Exposition enterprises are the engagements of Camille Saint-Saens and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The former, who maintained that "Beethoven is the greatest, the only real, artist, because he upheld the idea of universal brotherhood," is perhaps better fitted than any living composer to write special music for the Exposition.

This he has done, -- writing two compositions in fact; and their presentation has been an outstanding feature. "Hail, California," was dedicated to the Exposition. Scored for an orchestra of eighty, a military band of sixty, a chorus of 300 voices, pipe organ and piano, its first presentation was an event.

The Saint-Saens Symphony in C minor (No. 3) Opus 78, composed many years ago, has become a classic during the life-time of its creator. It was one of the wonders of the Boston Symphony programmes played in Festival Hall. Its yield of immediate pleasure and its reassurance for the works of Saint-Saens to be heard later, grew from the fact that it was scored for orchestra and pipe organ, and in this massive tonal web the genius of the composer to write in magnificent size was overwhelm- ingly evident, thus forecasting the splendors of "Hail, California."

The French Pavilion is a dignified and impressive structure, as those who recall the Legion of Honor Palace in Paris will understand. The entrance to the court is a triumphal arch flanked by double rows of Ionic columns on either side, with figures of Fame as spandrels. The arch is connected by lateral peristyles with the wings of the pavilion, the attics of which are adorned with has reliefs.

Ionic colonnades extend along the sides of the court to the principal front of the building, which is decorated with six Corinthian columns, forming a portico for the main entrance. The portal opens on a stage, above which a great central hall, flanked by lesser halls, extends back through the palace.

More notable than the building itself, or its priceless contents, is the fact that these are here. That, in the midst of war and its demands, France should still find time for the ideal, and for this beautiful tribute to the long-standing friendship between the two countries, is a demonstration of French spirit and of French culture that will not escape the attention of any thoughtful American. For France herself, as it has well been said, her appearance here means as much as a victory on the battlefield.

But the glory of the building is in its exhibits. France poured out the treasures of the Louvre, the Luxembourg and the National Museum to adorn this pavilion. Fine as is the exhibit in the French section of the Palace of Fine Arts, the best pictures and Sculptures are shown here. In the Court of Honor stands the masterpiece of the master sculptor of modern times, "The Thinker," by Auguste Rodin. (p. 158.) In the galleries are his "John the Baptist" and other important bronzes.

Vast, unique and of the greatest interest is Theodore Riviere's wonderful group in bronze representing a triumphant band of desert soldiers dragging captive the Moroccan pretender, secured in an iron cage. There, too, are splendid paintings by Monet, Meissonier, Detaille, de Neuvilie, and many other French artists approved by time. **

(these all are actual pieces shown in that exhibit, accompanied by the music played there, described by someone who visited there. and this is just the teensiest fraction of just one country's offerings, just france. and the world was there. bibliography to follow.)

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Anonymous evan said...

another beautiful post...& I learned a lil something, too :)

24 September, 2009 10:10  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

oh thank you evan. i am learning so much and it's so cool to share it with you.

24 September, 2009 13:11  

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