Monday, August 11, 2014

Ethelbert Nevin

ABC Wednesday
August 13th, 2014

The letter is E

I couldn't think of any really exotic fruits that begin with E, or any commonplace ones that would be of interest..  And Mister Google was not much help when I went to see what he had to offer.

So I left off thinking about fruity E's and went back to sorting my music, which was the BIG plan for the day. I was really looking for a copy of Nola, being in a nostalgic mood, but instead found just one page of Narcissus  from Water Scenes Op. 13. No. 4.composed by Ethelbert Nevin.  This was equally nostalgic, being a piece that both my husband and I played in early years.

I can remember being thrilled when I got to the point in piano lessons when my teacher introduced a few more interesting pieces than what could be found in the Toronto Conservatory books, and Narcissus was one that really appealed to me, - the idea of playing with crossed hands seemed terribly sophisticated and exciting at the time!!!!

You will be asking why I am going on about Narcissus, - no E's there!  Ah yes, it was written by Ethelbert Nevin, a short lived but very popular composer of the late 1800's (he died in 1901 at the age of 39 - probably from a stroke although it was reported as apoplexy ).

Ethelbert Nevin wrote romantic salon music for piano and other instruments - among them  Barcarolle, Ophelia, Water Nymph and Narcissus all from Op. 13, and many songs - The Rosary (my mother's favourite), and most famous of all, Mighty Lak a Rose.  Listen here to Paul Robeson sing it - sends shivers up my spine.

He was also a gifted concert performer and in recognition of his talents and his contribution to the musical world of the late 19th Century a 1940 ten cent stamp was issued in his honour.


Here is a nice performance of Narcissus, - at least I think so.  Many, I found, play the piece much too mournfully but this is a more lively rendition.  There is another Youtube performance by a young Asian girl which I found very endearing, but Youtube didn't present  this as an option, alas.  She crossed hands with much elegance and presence and reminded me of how impressed I was with that technique!!!

                                       Grace Notes, in drag, also plays Narcissus on Youtube, 
                   but more in the style of ragtime, which is rather naughty, but you might enjoy the nice swing.

For more interesting E's visit here at ABC Wednesday and give thanks to Roger and Denise and all 'elpers.


Leslie: said...

Great and unique post! I'd never heard of this composer but when I listened to the music, I recognized it.

abcw team

Roger Owen Green said...

Not familiar with him at all. Thanks for this.

ROG, ABC Wednesday

Reader Wil said...

Thank you for introducing this composer.I didn ' t know him either. I like this music and Paul Robson sings it beautifully.
Wil, ABCW Team

Arnoldo L. Romero, MLA said...

I didn't know who Ethelbert Nevin was, but I definitely recognized his music when I heard it. This is what I love about ABC Wednesday. Blessings!

ellen b. said...

What a name to be saddled with...Ethelbert.
Music speaks to me. The title of your blog is a song/hymn that was played at my wedding.

Susan Moore said...

I listened to Mighty Lak a Rose - so beautiful - thanks for posting the link and thanks for introducing me to Ethelbert Nevin's work. I think you must have a most wonderful collection of music!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

My goodness -- beautiful music -- you are good at finding such interesting and perfect You Tubes. I have to say I had never heard of the composer, but recognize several of the songs by name and music. Beautiful solo by Paul Robson.

lotusleaf said...

Thanks for the lovely music and also for introducing a composer.

The Weaver of Grass said...

You brought back such memories Hildred - how I used to love playing Narcissus, which was a stage above easy but not too hard. I shall look to see if I still have the musci, so thanks for the reminder.

Lmkazmierczak said...

Oh,that was lovely...sounds vaguely familiar but the video of the performance made it even more interesting♪

Morning's Minion said...

My Mother played both Nola and Narcissus--I had to listen to the opening notes of that one to recall the melody, although I remembered the 'crossed hands.' I believe she thought of them as 'parlor pieces'; She taught me to sing 'Mighty Lak a Rose'--I probably stood up, bow in hair, and warbled it at some gentle gathering for the church ladies. Thank you for reminding me of these lovely pieces.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Such a grand name, Ethelbert! I am familiar with the Paul Robson song but hadn't heard it for years.

Barb said...

I always learn something new from you, Hildred. Are you still playing the organ at church?