Cemetery Blues

Bring me the head of Georges Bizet! The bronze bust of the composer, best known for his operas Le docteur Miracle, Don Procopio, and Numa (he was also known to dabble in Spanish themes now and again), has been stolen from his grave in the famed Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

“We’re dealing with a group theft carried out over a short period of time,” said an unnamed source quoted in The Independent. “And there is without doubt a collector behind it. The pieces are almost never catalogued, and so it would be very easy to sell them on the black market.”

And only five shopping days left until Christmas! I need to update my list.

Investigators might want to check that now remounted Berlin production of Idomeneo (which, yesterday, I heard our local news radio station pronounce as Indomínio, with the accent on the third syllable, making it sound like a Phil Collins song). They were down a few heads as of last week—maybe they got desparate.

In terms of borrowing from Bizet, though, it doesn’t compare with the Horowitz transcription. (The Bizet starts at the 3:36 mark; you’ll have to sit through Schumann’s Träumerei first, which isn’t such a bad thing.)

That’s from his 1968 Carnegie Hall recital. Wondering what all those notes were? You can compare various transcriptions of all the successive versions of Horowitz’s Carmen Variations here (as well as other Horowitz arrangements and compositions, including the early “Danse Excentrique,” which remains one of my more prized 78s).

Also via YouTube, here’s a couple of wonderful silent home movies of Horowitz playing at parties in the 1920’s. If your primary image of Horowitz is as a kindly old man being bossed around by Toscanini’s daughter, it’s fun to see him at his most rakishly sly. I wonder what he’s playing in the first clip—he seems to be having a great time hamming it up.

Incidentally, the Horowitzes are unfortunately also no strangers to grave robbers. (And you thought I couldn’t bring this meandering post full circle.)

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