Sound and vision blog

20 May 2009

Living out fiction with Huxley and Beethoven

An interesting anecdote came in from one of our users:

“I'm a DH Lawrence expert, and was fascinated to find that you had, on the site, the recording of Beethoven's Op. 132 quartet, in A minor, which Aldous Huxley uses and describes in detail towards the end of his 1928 novel Point Counter Point - in which an influential recreation of Lawrence appears.

"In the novel, the character Spandrell is excited to discover that there has been a release, for the first time, of the quartet in question, played by Hungarian musicians: he tells the Lawrence character about it.

"The recording must be that by the Lâener quartet, issued commercially in 1927 or 1928. Rampion listens to the quartet with him; and they discuss the music of the third movement after each side has been played.

"On commercial LP or CD releases of archive music material, of course, such side breaks are disguised as far as possible. But the Archival Sound Recordings version contains these breaks, making it possible to sit with a copy of the 1928 novel and read it in exactly the way described.

"I don't think Huxley actually plays quite fair, in fact, as there are breaks he does not allow for! But I have never been able to access the Lâener Quartet actually 'on' 78, as it were, and it was a joy to find it on your site.”

Ginevra House, ASR Engagement Officer

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