Their work is referenced in my current work in progress, "Fianchetto;" specifically, the duet "Belle nuit, ô nuit d'amour" and Elliott's 1968 recording of "Dream a Little Dream of Me." The Offenbach piece is from the opera Tales of Hoffmann and is better known as the "Barcarole." It serves as the signature of a relationship between two of the characters, as does "Dream a Little Dream."
I've always had a strong attachment to using music in the stories I write. This was particularly true in my 1987 novel Sundipper. I think this reflects the essentially cinematic approach I often use when writing. I see scenes unfold like a film, with movement, dialog, and of course, music. For this blog entry I'd like to present the Sundipper 'soundtrack.'
In an early chapter, the protagonist, Matthew Lawton, launches his spacecraft into the Sun's chromosphere while listening to the first movement of Beethoven's Third Symphony, Eroica:
You! Yeah, you!
Later in his lonely mountaintop retreat in the Black Mountains of North Carolina, he consoles himself with the exquisite, desperately poignant First Violin Concerto by Sergei Prokofiev.
The man himself.
Lawton encounters the equally lonely widow of a powerful politician who has a secret of her own. Oh, and she's fascinated by the Music of Tin Pan Alley, and crooners from Perry Como to Dean Martin. She also collects LPs, and this was written in 1986, long before the current hipster revival of interest in vinyl. This is why I paid to quote song lyrics of the famous standard, "Till the End of Time," itself adapted from Chopin's Polonaise in A flat major, Op. 53, the "Polonaise héroique".
Perry Como's version may be the most famous, but I like Sarah Vaughan's. The version I remember best, by the Ray Charles Singers, was played a lot on the radio when I was kid:
This is not by the Ray Charles who
gave us "I Got a Woman," but the stage
name of composer/arranger
Listen to this version,
or better yet,
Sasha, the widow, believes this kind of music is one of the pillars of human civilization. No, really. She has reasons for thinking so, and they're not merely tongue in cheek.
"Shades," by Dean Martin
Lawton tries to wean her off mid century crooners and back to the classics, mentioning Prokofiev's Sixth Symphony as one of his choices. The Sixth is widely considered Prokofiev's elegy to the dead of World War II:
"Now we are rejoicing in our great victory, but each of us has wounds that cannot be healed. One has lost those dear to him, another has lost his health. These must not be forgotten."
In a far lesser way, this can be considered the end of the Sundipper soundtrack, as Prokofiev's words also apply to Matthew Lawton's fictional life.
"The light they carried went with them."