I am sitting in a room listening to piano music. It is the music of Charles-Valentin Alkan, a man who – perhaps with a nod to musical history hyperbole – apparently died trapped beneath a bookcase. He was an older man, so I assume an bookcase hitting you would be a terrible thing. I wouldn’t like to be hit with a bookcase now, I guess, and I’m a lot younger than seventysomething.
It’s a musical death that has parallels with Jean-Baptiste Lully. I don’t mean that they died from the same thing – I mean more that their deaths are funny. I mean, who dies from gangrene resulting from a forceful beating of time? (So forceful that his staff pierced his shoe,and his foot, delivering an infection that would end him, because he decided he wouldn’t have an amputation because it would hinder his ability to dance. Being dead does too, guy.) It’s such a laughable death – laughable until it happens to you, I imagine – that when in Paris with my then-partner, we made an effort to snap a photo with his likeness in the Opéra Garnier. (more…)