Monday, August 9, 2010

A Tale of Two Charles' Part II.

Welcome back Dear Readers,

Dear Friends.


Tale of Two Charles' Part II.

starts a long time ago in Paris.

On August 7th 1934

a 67 year old composer 

attended the cinema. 

It was there that he first 

caught a glimpse of 

the very lovely actress

Lilian Harvey.

Charles Koechlin,

enamored of cinema and many of its' stars

had sought refuge from some of life's difficulties

in these

"unreal worlds".

Who knows

what he might have felt

seeing this beautiful, young actress

for the first time?

Was he in love?

Merely smitten?

We do know that Koechlin

went to see Harvey in that film again the same night.

Following the film,

he wrote the music of

Tout va bien.

"not without covering the paper with tears"

he later confessed.

Later he added another song

Keep that schoolgirl complexion

which was a pastiche of a Palmolive soap advertisement.

These two songs formed the basis of a cycle he called

L'Album de Lilian.

Koechlin had studied with Massenet

and with Faure who had a particularly strong influence

on him.

His music is as beautiful as Atget's Paris,

as lovely as Lilian.

L'Album de Lilian 

is written primarily for piano, voice, and flute,

with parts for the exotic Ondes Martenot

and Clavecin.

I believe that this was my first introduction to Koechlin's works.

A very good place for anyone to start.

Koechlin wrote piano music.

I've enjoyed his L'Ancienne Maison de Campagne,
Quatre Nouvelles Sonatines, Paysages et Marines, 
Les Heures Persanes.

His music for flute, including a version of L'Album de Lilian, is also quite nice.

He wrote songs, for the oboe, quartets, and symphonic works as well.

Koechlin's music is often dreamy but with a dash of chromatic


That is to say... he throws in a thorn or two now and again.

Like Charles Tomlinson Griffes

who interpreted

The White Peacock,

Koechlin wrote a symphonic interpretation

of The Jungle Book.

And as further evidence of his obsession with Hollywood,

Koechlin wrote

The Seven Stars Symphony

with parts for

Douglas Fairbanks

Lilian Harvey


Clara Bow

Marlene Dietrich

Emil Jannings

and the great
Charlie Chaplin.

I have loved the music of

Charles Tomlinson Griffes


Charles Koechlin,


Two Charles',

for many years.

There is much to love.

And I hope that you too will take the time explore their

varied and colorful works.

You'll be glad you did. 


  1. Hi David, definitely make me want to listen to Les Heures persanes...!
    ah..Lilian Harvey was certainly the most loveliest muse, don't you think ?... :-)

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  3. Hello Lovely Lala!

    So glad you could stop by! You should definitely listen to these two composers. Perhaps I should send you some of their music? Let me know if you'd like that. As to stunning muses... I think Lilian will have to step aside to you in your beautiful blue dress.

    As always,


  4. Mais oui ! absolument...i email you...

    on another serious matter...les calissons...
    oui c'est sérieux, you must try them !
    bon...if you're going to Paris in september, we go together to this pastry shop..ok ?