On September 16, my inspiring friends Jane Rutter and Simon Tedeschi will play my new work Blood Count at Government House, Sydney. It’s an excerpt from my Harp and Wind Quintet for flute and harp, played in a version for flute and piano. If you’re interested, ticket information is here.
As usual, I’ll post an electronic performance here until I can replace it with the performance from the premiere.
Sometimes, being a composer is like standing downwind from an unknown incident. You catch sounds and odors and the occasional object wafting your way. The sleuth in your imagination has to piece it together.
When I heard that Jane Rutter and Simon Tedeschi’s new concert was to be called The Vampire Diaries, I found myself thinking: if anything meets the definition of the original vampire diary, it’s the journal kept by Jonathan Harker, the hero of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula.
Like James Joyce’s Ulysses or Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Dracula is one of those books that everybody knows about, but few have read. So not many people know that Dracula is an epistolary novel – a book written entirely in the form of journal entries, letters, and other documents. And the first diary entry is easily the most suspenseful part of the book.
Solicitor Jonathan Harker is journeying by coach from London to Transylvania to meet a Count Dracula who wants to purchase some English real estate. Initially, Harker is charmed by his ride through the picturesque landscapes of Eastern Europe and its unusual delicious food.
But the deeper he gets into the Carpathian mountains, the more he encounters locals who are frightened for him. They attempt to dissuade him from his journey but he doesn’t understand their language, and upon failing, they give him protective blessings and crucifixes. Now fearful, he continues his ascent to Castle Dracula, encountering howling wolves and mysterious blue flames on the way.
Thus ends the masterpiece of an opening chapter – Harker’s first diary entry– of Dracula.
Thinking about Dracula made me remember something I’d completely forgotten till now. When I was about 12, I fantasized about composing a ballet to the story. But the idea of a dancing vampire was ridiculed by my friends. Then to my delight I discovered two German Romantic zauber (magic) operas, by Marschner and Lindpainter respectively, both called Der Vampyr and I figured that if vampires could sing opera, they could dance ballet. But I never did get around to writing it.