Saturday, April 17, 2010

Theodore Gouvy

And who, you may ask, is he? Answer: a 19th century French composer of instrumental music, now largely forgotten. I heard his Quintette, Op. 24, performed tonight in a lovely concert by the Chamber Ensemble con Grazia, in the Broomfield Auditorium. There were four pieces on the program, culminating with Gouvy. His quintet was preceded by a brief lecture about the man and his music, which led me to ponder the vagaries of fame.

I liked the Gouvy piece as much as I liked the Haydn Trio in G major that opened the program. But Gouvy is so forgotten, lecturer Robin McNeil told us, that the score for the piece performed tonight has only been checked out of the Library of Congress twice, and the time before this one was in the 1920s. McNeil, who has spent fourteen years researching the music of Gouvy, said that people pronounce the music as delightful, but then go on to say, "But it can't be all that good, or else more people would be listening to it." Thus the lack of fame is itself justification for the lack of fame. McNeil is trying to lead a revival of Gouvy, who was quite popular as a composer during his lifetime. I wonder if it will catch on. Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and - Gouvy?

I'm all for revivals of forgotten artists from the past. Maybe there will be a Mills revival someday? The only problem is that Mills is not yet famous enough during her lifetime for the swelling of fame for her a century after her death to count as a revival, exactly. A discovery, would be more like it. For now, I'll just content myself with rooting for Gouvy.

1 comment:

  1. We could make Groovy Gouvy banners! XOS