Classical Music Stories is a series that connects music to your favorite books and characters. Since listening to classical music can be like hearing a story (albeit an abstract one), imagining specific stories that match the music can make it that much more fun and accessible!
In this short, 20th century piano piece by Ligeti (Etude No. 8 “Fem” from the second book of etudes) I imagined the Mad Hatter’s and the March Hare’s perpetual tea party, i.e. their punishment by Time:
The louder, higher music is like when they are eating and drinking, participating in the tea party as normal. The first soft section is a pause in their tea activities when Alice shows up where they begin talking to her instead. There are many repetitions of these types of sections—the louder sections are the characters actually having tea, including Alice eventually (giving in to Time’s demands) and the soft parts are their conversations when they forget as a result of Alice’s presence. In these softer sections, the influence of Time and tea is still there, but under the surface since our focus is on the conversation.
As the piece continues, Time (the loud, tea sections) grows more and more insistent as a result of being ignored, until it suddenly gives way to very soft, peaceful sounds: in a hilarious twist, the pressing nature of Time’s enforced tea is replaced by the Dormouse’s overall undisturbed dreams of treacle…
How do you hear this quirky music? Does it remind you of Alice in Wonderland or something totally different? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!
You can check out the rest of the Classical Music Stories series here!
P.S. My apologies for the sporadic posting…as the PhD school year starts back up life gets increasingly hectic again, but I should be back on track and catching up on reading your posts soon!