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Dmitri Smirnov

Dmitri N. Smirnov: Visionary Heads

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Dmitri N. SMIRNOV Op. 172 (2013) VISIONARY HEADS 5 pieces for piano after pencil drawings of William Blake. FP: Saturday 29 March 2014 7.30pm, St Saviour's Church, St Albans, Hertfordshire, Alissa Firsova (piano). Sound recording by Chris Argue -- 'A Disputandum Production'.

"Тhe Visionary Heads" is a series of black chalk and pencil drawings produced by William Blake after 1818 by request of John Varley, the watercolour artist and astrologer. The subjects of the sketches, many of whom are famous historical and mythical characters, appeared to Blake in visions during late night meetings with Varley, as if sitting for portraits.

For several years after 1818, William Blake created by request of John Varley, the watercolour artist and astrologer, more than a hundred impressive portraits. The subjects of the sketches, many of whom are famous historical and mythical characters, appeared to Blake in visions during late night meetings with Varley, as if sitting for portraits. I chose five of these pictures that I particularly liked and tried to express my impression of them through music. The names of these visionary personages were incorporated into this music with the help of a special music-alphanumeric code. The five pieces are arranged in the order they were written in, however the performer is welcome to alter the order as desired.

1. Blake's Instructor -- the Visionary Self-portrait of William Blake. The title of the portrait is: "The Man Who Taught Blake Painting in his Dreams" or "The Portrait of a Man who instructed Mr Blake in Painting &c, in his Dreams" as well as "Imagination of A man who Mr Blake has received instruction in Painting &c from". The portrait bears a disconcerting resemblance to Blake's self-portrait of 16 years previously" (i. e. in 1802).

2. The Man Who Built the Pyramids. As G. Keynes noted "Blake has projected into this visionary head of the builder his hatred of the mathematical materialism of the Egyptians and their architecture. It is inscribed by Varley with the title below and is dated Oct. 18, 1819

3. Corinna -- an Ancient Greek poetess who lived around the 6th century BC

The two sketches of the same head shown both full face and in profile with half-opened mouth as she reads her poetry. Corinna came from Tanagra in Boeotia, where she was a teacher and rival to the famous Theban poet Pindar. Pausanias says she won a poetry competition against Pindar.

4. Cancer Constellation -- another Visionary Self-portrait of William Blake.The drawing is inscribed by John Varley as "Cancer", the astrological sign, which is associated with the constellation Cancer. However Blake may have intended it as a self-caricature. Jacob Bronowski in his book "A Man Without a Mask" (1943) named this "Prophetic Head of William Blake".

5. Owen Glendower -- or Owain Glyndwr, a Welsh national hero of the 15th century who rebelled against Henry IV of England to liberate the Welsh. He was a Welsh ruler and the last native Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales (Tywysog Cymru). He was portrayed in William Shakespeare's play Henry IV, Part 1 as a wild and exotic man ruled by magic and emotion. He became in popular memory as a Welsh national hero on par with King Arthur. The sense of supercilious power in the face is very impressive...

Total duration: about 12-13 min
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Dmitri N. SMIRNOV Op. 172 (2013) VISIONARY HEADS 5 pieces for piano after pencil drawings of William Blake. FP: Saturday 29 March 2014 7.30pm, St Saviour's Church, St Albans, Hertfordshire, Alissa Firsova (piano). Sound recording by Chris Argue -- 'A Disputandum Production'.

"Тhe Visionary Heads" is a series of black chalk and pencil drawings produced by William Blake after 1818 by request of John Varley, the watercolour artist and astrologer. The subjects of the sketches, many of whom are famous historical and mythical characters, appeared to Blake in visions during late night meetings with Varley, as if sitting for portraits.

For several years after 1818, William Blake created by request of John Varley, the watercolour artist and astrologer, more than a hundred impressive portraits. The subjects of the sketches, many of whom are famous historical and mythical characters, appeared to Blake in visions during late night meetings with Varley, as if sitting for portraits. I chose five of these pictures that I particularly liked and tried to express my impression of them through music. The names of these visionary personages were incorporated into this music with the help of a special music-alphanumeric code. The five pieces are arranged in the order they were written in, however the performer is welcome to alter the order as desired.

1. Blake's Instructor -- the Visionary Self-portrait of William Blake. The title of the portrait is: "The Man Who Taught Blake Painting in his Dreams" or "The Portrait of a Man who instructed Mr Blake in Painting &c, in his Dreams" as well as "Imagination of A man who Mr Blake has received instruction in Painting &c from". The portrait bears a disconcerting resemblance to Blake's self-portrait of 16 years previously" (i. e. in 1802).

2. The Man Who Built the Pyramids. As G. Keynes noted "Blake has projected into this visionary head of the builder his hatred of the mathematical materialism of the Egyptians and their architecture. It is inscribed by Varley with the title below and is dated Oct. 18, 1819

3. Corinna -- an Ancient Greek poetess who lived around the 6th century BC

The two sketches of the same head shown both full face and in profile with half-opened mouth as she reads her poetry. Corinna came from Tanagra in Boeotia, where she was a teacher and rival to the famous Theban poet Pindar. Pausanias says she won a poetry competition against Pindar.

4. Cancer Constellation -- another Visionary Self-portrait of William Blake.The drawing is inscribed by John Varley as "Cancer", the astrological sign, which is associated with the constellation Cancer. However Blake may have intended it as a self-caricature. Jacob Bronowski in his book "A Man Without a Mask" (1943) named this "Prophetic Head of William Blake".

5. Owen Glendower -- or Owain Glyndwr, a Welsh national hero of the 15th century who rebelled against Henry IV of England to liberate the Welsh. He was a Welsh ruler and the last native Welshman to hold the title Prince of Wales (Tywysog Cymru). He was portrayed in William Shakespeare's play Henry IV, Part 1 as a wild and exotic man ruled by magic and emotion. He became in popular memory as a Welsh national hero on par with King Arthur. The sense of supercilious power in the face is very impressive...

Total duration: about 12-13 min Show less
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