Its June and I’m honoured to be starting a three month residency at the stunning Centre Culturel Irlandais in beautiful Paris! I thought I’d be finishing the concerto over the last 2-3 months, but instead found myself working around the clock on a film score I’d been waiting 10 years to do! Now in Paris, my focus shifts to working on a suite for orchestra and completing the concerto.
When I arrived in Paris, the first thing I did was actually sleep for a few days. I totally crashed and burned and had no energy to even think! Now that I’m feeling more functional again, I’m excited at the possibility of finally taking the concerto to the finish line while I’m here.
The Centre Culturel Irlandais
The CCI building that I’m living in consists of two wings surrounding a gorgeous large Parisian courtyard.
Renovated somewhere between 1769 and 1775 to accommodate an ecclesiastical community, it still has that sense of spirituality with one of its wings housing a serene chapel and an incredible library.
I’m excited that I will get to check out the library which apparently has a collection of about 10,000 books, half of which date from the 15th century. Its going to remind me of the Long Room in Trinity I hope! The books (in English, French, Latin and Irish) mainly deal with theology, history, geography, philosophy and music.
Aside from that, I’ve bumped into some of my fellow Artists in Residence here who are at various stages of their stays. Writers/Poets Jaki McCarrick and Gerard Smyth as well as visual artist Margaret O’ Brien have all been incredibly welcoming to me and after we have dinner this weekend I’m sure I will have lots more to share about their work and experiences.
The Paris of Great Composers
Its amazing what a town can do for inspiration. For many years Prague used to provide that inspiration and even though I have barely arrived, I can already tell that Paris oozes inspiration. The CCI is in the historic Latin quarter of Paris in the 5th arrondissement. I can see the imposing Pantheon from my bedroom window and take a 5 minute walk to the bustling Rue Mouffetard and its Parisian sensations. As one of Paris’s oldest and liveliest neighbourhoods (settled by the Romans around 53BC), its such an exciting prospect to be here working and living, soaking myself in the culture.
Thinking of all the great composers who were inspired by the city at some point on their creative journeys, I really do get goose-bumps realizing I am following in their rather large footsteps. From Stravinsky’s crazy premiere of Rite of Spring, to its famous residents such as Mozart, Prokoviev, Faure, Debussy, Offenback, Liszt, and Verdi, Paris contributed some real magic to their work during their lives.
I also found some great information on Eurochannel.com about some of their stays, so to round off the blog, I am officially making visiting their former homes part of a Parisian “Bucket List” this summer!
Verdi – 65, avenue des Champs Elysées: Paris 8 ème: Following the success of The Force of Destiny, Verdi moved to Paris.
Debussy – 56 rue Cardinet: In 1902, Claude Debussy arrived and began work on Pelleas et Melisandre. At the time, he was in a relationship with Gabrielle Dupont, left to be with her friend Rosalie Texier (who he would later marry) and was also romantically linked with singer Thérèse Roger! Whew! So who really inspired the lyrics for the opera?
Offenbach – 11 rue du Lafitte: Offenbach lived on Chaussée D’Antin, now known as Grands Boulevards, in 1858.
Fauré – 135 boulevard Malesherbes: During the summer of 1887, Gabriel Fauré began to compose one of my favourite pieces – his Requiem. Both his father and mother died that year as he began writing yet Fauré denied any relationship between those events and his Requiem.
Mozart – 8 rue du Sentier: An then there is Mozart. On March 11th, 1778, Mozart and his mother moved to Paris in search of work.
Prokofiev – 5 rue Valentin Hauy: Prokofiev lived in Paris on and off, from the 1920’s. In the 1930’s, living in the neighborhood of Breteuil, he began to work on his Piano Concerto No. 4 for Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein commissioned the work, but was prevented from playing it because he could not understand the notes. Thank God Cora is checking on the Concerto as I’m writing it!!!