NABOKV-L post 0021047, Thu, 9 Dec 2010 01:28:26 -0800

Re: query; music and Nabokov
Dear Don,

I was pleased by your post regarding Richard Strauss, one of my favorite, and
the most literary of, composers, because it reminded me of the similarities and
analogies I have been entertaining in private for years.
His orchestral piece Ein Heldenleben always reminds me of Look At The
Harlequins, especially its fifth  movement, Des Helden Friedenswerke, the way he
used themes from his previous works (Till Eulenspiegel, Macbeth, Also Sprach
Zarathustra, Don Juan, Don Quixote etc), while the second movement, The Hero’s
Adversaries,  is Strauss’s “Reply to His Critics,” so to speak. Many critics
failed to perceive and appreciate its irony and humour.
The opera Salome was his succès de scandale, and stylistically it is as
innovative and exuberant as Lolita.

Elektra in its use of dissonance, chromaticism and harmonic parallelism was a
forerunner of modernism in music in the same way that Pale Fire heralded
postmodernism; and also his extremely complex use of leitmotifs is analogous to

VN's Lectures on Don Quixote have their counterpart in Strauss's orchestral work
Don Quixote.
Kind regards,
A. Bouazza

From: Don Stanley <dstanley@TRU.CA>
Sent: Tue, December 7, 2010 5:22:19 AM
Subject: [NABOKV-L] query; music and Nabokov

Been listening to Richard Strauss, reading about him, and he reminds me of
Nabokov. Same sense of humor, interesting letters, full-term marriage,
hair-unfriendly forehead  and an insistence on avoiding easy aesthetic
categories. For example, this Q and A from a press conference with Strauss has a
Nabakovian ring:
“What do you think of the American school of composers?”
“There aren’t any schools; there are only talents and geniuses.”
Strauss was a great musician who also loved writing. Nabokov was a great writer
who it seems to me doesn’t display much interest in music, surprisingly for a
father  whose son became an opera singer (maybe something Nabokov has in common
with  Michael Corleone).
The only significant reference to music I can think of offhand is the aversion
to jazz by his surrogate John Shade.  Anyway, my query: is music a major factor
in Nabokov’s work?
All the best,
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