Archive for June 21, 2009

Midsummer Madness

Posted in Biographical, Music, Poetry with tags , , on June 21, 2009 by telescoper

I’ve just realised that the Summer Solstice happened this morning at about 6.47am British Summer Time (5h 46m 45s UTC). Astronomy buffs will know that’s the time when the Sun reaches its most northerly position in the sky, leading to the longest day in the northern hemisphere.

Since it’s also the bicentennial year of Felix Mendelssohn it was a no-brainer to decide to celebrate by picking one of the beautiful pieces he wrote as music for the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare.

Whenever anyone mentions that play I can’t help remembering the version of it we did at School. I only got to act in two plays when I was a schoolboy, but they were both authentically Shakespearean in the sense that all the parts, including the female ones, were played by boys. It was an all-boys school, you see. My best role was undoubtedly as Lady Macbeth in the Scottish play – a much more interesting part than her husband, if you ask me. The only other attempt at acting I ever engaged in was in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Although I say so myself, my Bottom was the talk of the sixth form.

(I was going to say “and thereby hangs a tail”, but decided not to…)

I should also mention that I also saw Andy Lawrence playing the same part in the Queen Mary Players production of The Dream. I wonder if he remembers doing that?

Curiously, the phrase from which I got the title of this post (“this is very midsummer madness”) is not from this play but from Twelfth Night, a play whose title refers to winter time. I think it might have been a joke.

Anyway, I’m rambling. This clip is a plug for a new recording which sounds pretty good to me. I’ve picked the wonderful Notturno:

Postscript: I’m aware that some people might have been offended by some of the clerihews recently posted on this site. Sometimes the lure of a rhyme can take these into areas best left unvisited. I’d therefore like to offer these, the closing lines of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by way of an apology. I’ve also now taken the Clerihews themselves offline, owing to a number of attempts to post  abusive and/or threatening comments on that page (none of which came from anyone actually named there).

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

I’m glad at least that nobody tried to do a clerihew about Puck. I mean, how could you possible find a rhyme for “Robin Goodfellow”?