Andre’s life, as sit to reconstruct it here, was a totally different life. He was at a strata just one below the highest level in French society, in what I remember was about 1750 or so. He played an instrument I think was a precursor of the harpsichord or a variant of a harpsichord, probably an instrument called a Double Virginal, an instrument with a double keyboard and also came in a smaller portable version.
But first a description of the times in which Andre lived.
Paris and France were considered the height of sophistication and the center of culture and intellectual development in Europe. There were “salons” of various types where the great cultural figures of the time would meet in homes, in salons or other small gatherings where great intellectuals, writers, soldiers, thinkers, and artists, would meet to discuss and display their talents in readings, recitals, including demonstrations by scientists of new discoveries. All of the disciplines were interacting--all of this sponsored, as I recall by women, mostly, of high society.
The women were in charge since often the men were off to war for long periods of time. And it was considered proper for young girls to know an instrument, know poetry, and several languages. This was partially their way to get acquanted with these matters, often in their own homes.
Now do I really recall of this in great detail? No. Is it a figment of my imagination? Perhaps, but I feel I have a feel of Andre, the people around him and the time in which he lived. But I do get from him, I believe a love of poetry, the piano and a dramatic sense of presenting poetic material.
First, he was no Mozart and earned his living in this salon atmosphere. I, as Andre, was a romanticist, and had a specialty of playing the harpsichord while reciting poetry. Poetry was immensely popular in my time and women literally swooned and fainted over particular lines of poetry (my own and that of others.)
I had gained a bit of fame for this style which combined poetry and the harpsichord (Clavicord.)
I loved the attention and the life-style, wearing satin outfits, sporting a powered wig, a cultured air and I affected a dramatic sense of mystery about myself.
I would sit in my recital insisting that I not be introduced, usually in a drawing room or a special salon. I would enter, gaze at my audience, mostly female, and sit at the harpsichord and often start a poem, using the harpsichord as a background mood setter. I remember once using a bit of gunpower for a small explosion to startle everyone.
It was dramatic and had not been done before in Paris in that way. It was my claim to fame to perform this way. Often I would take some classical poems and set them to music for the first time, thrilling my young fans with familiar pieces, made new with musical accompaniment.
I had my niche.
These recitals often led to private lessons, because many of the matrons would become my patrons and insist that, for pay, I give their daughters harpsichord and dramatic reading lessons, which I did for pay.
But also in this mix were private recitals for the matrons themselves. Some times I would come when the husband was away and the women got lonely and play late into the night, to help them to get to sleep, and to assist them in what I described as “LaAffairs of the Heart”
It is difficult to explain. Women were considered so delicate in that day such that they would affect, with the mere utterance of certain words, fainting and swooning spells.
I remember once showing up for a private recital wearing, at the request of the matron a cod-piece (look it up) and after a dramatic poetry reading she fainted off into her bed, saying she could take no more so delicate her nature.
I remember long nights and often taking opium and even cocaine to stay alert and, of course, to get high.
This was Andre’s life, a man of 26, handsome, sensitive. There is no question in my mind that my love of poetry comes from Andre and my love of the piano as well.
But Andre’s also led a dangerous life. It was no small violation to be reading poetry and also, sometimes romancing another’s man’s wife while he, the husband, was away, at war or traveling on business.
In fact you could get killed and I think that I just might have died that way. Can't be sure have to think about it between now and next time.
More on that next time. Meantime, I want to tell the story of Madame LaMartaire. Next time.
your character is so interesting, so much depth in the envrionment. amazing how you think to write/ but what i must do is start reading from the start. i feel that i am cheating myself when i come in the middle. so...i will search out chapter one of Andre!
This is a favorite chapter of mine so far.
I love the sound of the harpsichord, (we used to have one in the living room where I grew up). A wonderful brew of sights and sounds in this one, and Andre's especially interesting of course!