Innisfree Garden, July 24


One of those days when the clouds were particularly photogenic.

Listening List

Franz Joseph Haydn, Symphony No. 43 in E-Flat Major (“Mercury”), Hob I:43 (1771) (The Academy of Ancient Music, conducted by Christopher Hogwood)

The silly nickname ‘Mercury’ became attached to this symphony only in the nineteenth century; it is entirely lacking in relevance. [Hogwood, v.6, liner notes, p. 20]

The symphony is in four movements: Allegro, Adagio, Minuet & Trio, and Allegro, and is scored for two oboes, bassoon, two horns and strings.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Credits: The quotation is from the source cited in the text. The photographs, as always on the blog unless indicated otherwise, are mine.


14 thoughts on “Innisfree Garden, July 24

  1. david damant

    But no one can persuade me that 77 is not the greatest from Haydn’s list of symphonies. How wonderful to have been Nikolaus der Prachtliebende

  2. newleafsite

    Sue, another delightful sharing of impressions from one of your glorious meanderings! The clouds really were putting on a show that day, as were all the plants and flowers. I love the way you frame your images.

    Thinking that surely “someone” must know the origin of the nickname “Mercury,” I glanced through many Google search results about how no one does, until landing on a passage from DID YOU KNOW?: A MUSIC LOVER’S GUIDE to NICKNAMES, TITLES, and WHIMSY
    By Seymour L. Benstock, PhD. He says that “it derives from the many fast passages of sixteenth notes in the last movement, calling to mind Mercury, the swift Roman messenger of the gods. In old manuscripts found in Austrian monasteries, this symphony is labeled as a ‘Divertimento.’ It was a common practice in the eighteenth century to identify individual works using the names of Roman gods.”

    Of course, reading the passage online, and without a footnote, there is no guarantee of authority against Hogwood – just one of those curiosities! Anyway (keeping an ear open for hints of Mercury darting about), it has been a fun morning listen. Well paired with your slide show! — Elizabeth

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Elizabeth: I’m inclined to credit Hogwood’s research over any others, as he made such a project of it, but that doesn’t mean that others can’t draw their own associations. Once a work goes into the world, it’s fair game, isn’t it?

  3. shoreacres

    The lotus is extraordinary, and a good reminder to get myself turned east rather than west, and go to the land of our lotus. Water lilies are more common, but I’ve never seen the lotus in bloom. That has to happen.

    The trumpet vine is familiar, and a sure sign of summer here, but my favorite photo is the bubbling water beneath the tree. It looks so refreshing, and the music suits it. But then, you’re always good at pairings, and this is a good one for an August evening.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      shoreacres: Although the pairing was “accidental,” in that it was what I was listening to at the time, I can as easily refute that statement: why would I choose that music to listen to, if I didn’t sense that it fit? We are right now sweltering here. I can’t imagine what it must be like your way!

      1. shoreacres

        Actually, we are happy-happy just now. There’s a wonderful thunderstorm making its way through, and there’s more rain projected for tomorrow. We needed it so badly. Unfortunately, Louisiana got more than their share. Feast or famine, as they say.

  4. David N

    It still seems remarkably verdant for the time of year. We’ve had dramatic skies here, too, though it’s stayed dry and not too hot. The lily house at Kew is at its peak, with Victoria amazonica punctuating the blooms – the lotus had leaves but not as yet a flower – and the bees are out in their thousands.

    I like the solution to ‘Mercury’ which Elizabeth quotes. Of course there HAS to be a reason, even if as usual it doesn’t stem from the composer himself.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      David: Yes, it’s much greener than usually would be the case this time of year. Wonderful that the bees are out in such plenitude your way. On the “Mercury,” yes, as Elizabeth sleuthed and discovered, at least there was someone who thought the name fit. I did enjoy Hogwood’s perhaps curmudgeonly stance. If only he were still with us to expound on this!

  5. Steve Schwartzman

    In Austin, wispy close like those in your first photograph are usually the result of airplane contrails getting “feathered” by the wind. Do you know if that was the case in your picture?

      1. Steve Schwartzman

        You must live in an intellectual palace to have in-resident cloud experts.

        In looking back at what I wrote in my comment, I find it interesting how my brain jumped ahead and copied the ending of those onto the ending of clouds. (The brain once more proves itself quicker than the fingers.) I’ve occasionally seen other commenters do that sort of thing; I wonder if scientists have studied the phenomenon.

Comments are closed.