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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

Back to the Future with Bach 2

How Bach and Vivaldi fell out in Hollywood

Due to an overwhelming response from my readers, I am continuing for both of you my previous blog and fantasy story. Although it is a fantasy, it is not all made up, some of it is true - especially the historical bits and references to musical works. More importantly, time travel could one day all come to pass, in which case my blog will be regarded as prophetic. And then who will be laughing?

The story so far: a time machine has been invented that can bring people back from the past to the present. Bach and Vivaldi are living in Hollywood under contract both to the film studios and to their time traveller-manager. The revelation of their supposed identities has provoked a huge controversy. A majority of people are incredulous.

So now to continue the story. We find ourselves in a Hollywood TV studio with one of the leading interviewers of the day, a respected investigative reporter.

"Good evening. Tonight we have in the studio two men who have made extraordinary claims as to their true identities, and I do mean extra-ordinary. If true we have with us tonight two of the towering geniuses of musical history. How is this possible? Well, here is a little background.

"Ten years ago NASA started its Travel in Time Space programme, TITS, to reach distant planets and galaxies. In the process NASA made a surprising discovery: that it was easier to travel back in time and then forward to the present, than to travel forward in time and back to the present. The first manned TITS expedition travelled back a mere two hours. Within six years it had become 50 years, and here we are today travelling back as far as 1720, and amazingly, able to bring back to the present people from that distant age. Let me first turn to you, J.S. Bach, composer of Sheep may safely graze, Mass in B minor, the Art of Fugue and many other masterpieces.

"Mr Bach, you are widely considered as the greatest composer of the Baroque era, so what would make a man in your position, with your success, risk everything by stepping into a strange machine the likes of which you had never seen?"

JS, tense and heavy-cheeked, sitting almost on the edge of the chair smiled slowly:
"Because I did not believe it possible! I was sure it was a practical joke. But no, it wasn't."

And with that he gazed into the middle distance.

"What was your first impression on arriving in Hollywood?"
"That you have created a mad and wonderful world, side by side, and some things are both bad and good."
"Do you miss your previous life?"
"Yes and no. I miss the flowers and trees of Germany, the walks in the woods, the fresh air, and my wine collection. I do not miss the squabbling musicians, the dukes and bishops who were my employers, the cold unheated rooms."
"What do you say to those people who say you are making all this up?"
"I am very sad about this. I hoped my music and my ability would speak for themselves. But it is not so. I have spoken in detail and at great length about myself to learned historians and musicians who do not believe what I say. Imagine, they know better than me about what I have done in my life and what I have seen around me! I cannot believe it."

"Let me turn to our other guest, Antonio Vivaldi, composer of the Four Seasons, perhaps the best-loved classical music of all time. You were at the height of your success as a composer of operas. But still you stepped into the machine. Why?"
"It was a trick. The manager told me there was a pretty girl with long curly hair in there waiting for me. Afterwards I realised it was a joke so we both had a good laugh."
"What was your first impression of Hollywood?"
Vivaldi, a wiry, red-headed man with a penetrating look comfortably reclined in his chair.
"Amazing, I love it! It is better than my Venice. It is more practical to get around. Everything here works properly."
"Do you miss your previous life?"
"Not much. I miss the home cooking, but you have some fine Italian restaurants here with food I had never tasted before. And the girls in Hollywood, mamma mia, how do you say in English, are fantastic. And like Giovanni I do not miss the Dukes and Counts, they know nothing, isn't that right Giovanni? Nothing - just rich and ignorant. And here I love the studios and recording - magnifico. I never go back, never. I love this invention TITS. Thank you, TITS for bringing me here."
With real feeling he blew a kiss in the direction of the camera and waving his hands as a conductor slowly said:
"I - love - TITS"
"What do you say to people who accuse you of being a liar?"
"They're crazy! Just listen to my music - only one Antonio Vivaldi can write like that. Nobody sounds like me. Giovanni here cannot sound like me. Other musicians can sound like Giovanni, but no one can sound like me."

Bach glowered at the older man, 7 years his senior, and said:
"Most of your music, my admired maestro, sounds like you composed it before breakfast while feeding the hens. Only a couple of pieces stand apart."

Vivaldi's face turned nearly as red as his hair:
"Why you pompous fat man! Why do you speak to me like this? You compose the Brandenburg Concertos to sound like me, and the Italian concerto, and you copy my violin concerto just to be like me, il grande compositore Antonio Vivaldi. Hollywood Bach, now you write some fun music, but before you were so serious and boring."

At this Bach raised his considerable posterior from the chair and said:
"Come outside and say that."
Vivaldi jumped up holding his chair in front of him like a weapon, crouching dementedly.

What wonderful television, what huge audience ratings for the endless replays, and as for the managers in the background they were jumping up and down with delight and excitement.


Listen to:

J.S. Bach -
The Brandenburg Concertos
The Italian concerto for harpsichord

The violin concertos
Cantata "sheep may safely graze"
Mass in B minor
Art of Fugue

A.Vivaldi -
The Four Seasons
The concertos
The operas

Read more:
Stephen Hawking - A Brief History of Time

March 2011

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=462 .
© 2019.

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