This week I started rereading one of my all-time favorite books, Wuthering Heights. It seemed only natural then to share another classical music story inspired by this novel, paired with an equally mystical (and equally loved) piano piece!
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!
Liszt-Paganini Etude in G#-minor (La Campanella)
Composed by Franz Liszt
Performed by Emil Gilels
*Note: this YouTube video has two versions back to back, but my imagined story was created while listening to the first one.
The mysterious dance of the opening shows the child Catherine from Heathcliff’s perspective. The moors imbue her with some of their own mystery.
As the music becomes more playful, Catherine is playing with Healthcliff, but the sadder, darker, lower and more sustained music communicates Heathcliff’s personality. Then as things get faster with high notes again, it’s like the spell is more effective or at least more mysterious: the two are beginning to fall in love as the tension and passion of their relationship grows.
Heathcliff becomes sad, though, because Catherine is becoming more like Linton and spending more time in his company. This betrayal leads to his fury (signaled by the extreme see-sawing between two notes) that leads back to the beginning as he sees Catherine again, this time as from afar. The trend continues as the music grows higher and he becomes increasingly angry. Doubt accosts him for a moment, but then the music gets even faster and more frantic as their entire relationship is poisoned and he decides to seek revenge…
Did this piece sound like the story of Cathy and Heathcliff’s relationship to you, as well? Let me know what you thought of the music in the comments below!
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