by Jarrett Hoffman
Four hundred years after his birth on this date in 1605, English polymath Thomas Browne was commemorated by his adopted home city of Norwich with a series of sculptures commissioned in his honor. One of those was a large, marble brain — perfect as a representation of that famous thinker, but also as a resting spot for pigeons, who apparently can be seen drinking rainwater from its folds.
That got me wondering about other fun sculptures — especially ones that are right out in the open, and that are related to music. Locally, among all the beautiful statues in the Cultural Gardens is Romanian composer George Enescu. Then there’s the ROCK BOX, a collection of loudspeakers along E. 9th St. that play music from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees.
Expanding out on the map, there’s plenty of quirky, creative stuff that you could plan a trip around. In Houston there’s Virtuoso, the big, light-hearted, and invisible-bodied cellist that plays classical music through an integrated sound system. And right inside the Stopera in Amsterdam, there’s The Fiddler — a real break-out performer (kill me).
Here’s an article from Classic FM with more recommendations for musical sculptures, though the location for some of them may require some digging.
The most famous name to celebrate today is Jacqueline du Pré, who died on this date in 1987 at the age of 42, and who is considered one of the greatest cellists in history, despite her career being cut short by multiple sclerosis. Du Pré is often mentioned in the same breath as the Elgar Cello Concerto — check out one of her stunning performances of that work, like this one, where she plays the first movement with Daniel Barenboim and the London Philharmonic.
And to keep up with today’s theme, here’s a statue of her in Randwick, Australia — nice if you’re going for peace and serenity, as the city planned, but pretty tame compared to her playing, which The New York Times described in her obituary as “an unusual mixture of elegance and ferocity.”
Other figures to celebrate today:
- Charles Wheatstone (English scientist who invented the microphone — died on this date in 1875)
- Roland Dyens (noted French composer and guitarist known for improvisation and for crossing over between classical and jazz — born on this date in 1955)
- Nadezhda Rimskaya Korsakova (Russian pianist and composer who also exerted a strong influence on the music and legacy of her husband Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov — born on this date [Old Style] in 1848)
- Stephen Paulus (prolific, Grammy-winning American composer known for his operas and choral works — died on this date in 2014)
Les Délices continues its SalonEra series with “Latin Baroque” at 7:30, the CIM Orchestra tackles Elgar, Mendelssohn, and Mozart at 7, and the Boston Early Music Festival presents French Baroque ensemble Nevermind at 8. Check our Concert Listings for details.