Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bloomsday in Rome; Polyphonic Grief on the Adriatic

Through much good luck I will be in Rome this Saturday, which is Bloomsday! Joyce moved there on July 31, 1906, with his young family when the school he was teaching in in Trieste had financial troubles and his employment wasn't certain.

Joyce very specifically chose to move to Rome,  but his time in the city was not happy. One big mistake was taking a position in a bank.  Jonathan deBurca Butler offered some very interesting thoughts about Joyce in Rome in Verbal magazine:

"From the very beginning his letters to Stanislaus speak negatively of the city and its people. His work in the bank was soul destroying. He often had to work 12 hours a day, copying out up to 200 letters James Joyce text portraitin an office where he had no interaction with the public.

His struggle was compounded by his drinking; a vice that infuriated his landlady, Signora Dufour and towards the middle of November she requested that he leave the accommodation on Via Frattina. Joyce expected to charm his way out of the tight spot but the Signora kept her word and he found himself out on the streets with a young family and nowhere to go. After four days searching, with suitcases and child in tow, he moved into 51 Monte Brianzo.

Today the area, which is near the wonderful Piazza Navona, is by no means objectionable but was rather grim in Joyce’s time. The house was located beside the river that Joyce disliked so much. 'The Tiber frightens me', he wrote. Its deep gorge and hasty waters apparently no match for the Liffey’s more placid demeanour."

It's too bad Joyce had such a rotten time in Rome, but with friends Alaric & Maurizio at the Irish-owned Scholars Lounge it will be an excellent place to celebrate the great writer on his special day.

When David Heard
From Rome I go to Ancona, an Adriatic seaside town, for a choral week with Patrick Craig built around the the text from 2 Samuel 18:23:

"When David heard that Absalom was slain, he went down to his chamber over the gate, and wept: and thus he said: 'O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom. Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!"

We will sing multiple versions of this text of epic grief set by many Renaissance composers, which are some of the the most glorious choral pieces ever written. I'm such a sucker for bringing polyphony to life in the 21st century with other choral nerds. It's a nice bonus when it's an international bunch.

No blogging for a while. Please follow me on Twitter for tweets from Italy.


Jeremy said...

The 22nd (and possibly last) annual Bloomsday reading will be taking place in Rome on Saturday. Interested? email me.

Anonymous said...

nice posting.. thanks for sharing.