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February 2014
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Fabulous Fables: Great for Kids and for Composers

Francis Poulenc with Mickey

Francis Poulenc with Mickey

The Animal Kingdom is WFMT’s Theme for February

 
Everybody knows the expression, sour grapes, from the Aesop classic The Fox and the Grapes. It’s something to consider how well those lessons stand up today, over 2,500 years after Aesop supposedly recited them. 17th century French poet Jean de la Fontaine set 124 such fables to verse; little moral lessons often starring members of the animal kingdom. It was la Fontaine’s poems that inspired Francis Poulenc to compose a ballet called Les animaux modeles, which was to be set in a barnyard.

In February WFMT celebrates music inspired by the animal kingdom. On Tuesday, February 4th during the one o’clock hour, Kerry Frumkin presents the suite from Poulenc’s rare ballet.

Suite for orchestra:

  1. Early Morning
  2. The Lion in Love (see below)
  3. The Middle-Aged Man and Two Possible Wives
  4. Death and the Woodman
  5. The Two Cocks
  6. The Noon Repast

 

THE LION IN LOVE (IV,3)

Original Francoise Chauveau illustration of "The Lion in Love"

Original Francois Chauveau illustration of “The Lion in Love”

To Mademoiselle de Sévigné.
Sévigné, so blooming fair !
Whose charms the Graces might adorn,
Except that cold indifferent air
With all their wond’rous beauty born,
Deign me the favour of your ear;
Let no alarm your bosom move,
While you this harmless story hear
Of lion vanquished by love.
Love is a tyrant o’er the heart
Happy they pass their lives away,
Who only know what those impart
Who are the victims of his sway ;
To you, perhaps, no welcome lay.
Though I the fact may not unfold,
At least a Fable may be told:
This therefore I present to you,
From grateful zeal so justly due.
In days of old, when beasts could speak,
Lions with others came to seek
Society with human race,
And gain our fair to their embrace.
Why not? their race then equaled ours
In courage, strength, and reason’s powers.
They had besides a flowing mane;
But let me here the tale explain.

 

A lion of great parents born,
Passing a certain mead one morn,
A pretty peasant maiden spied,
And asked to have her for his bride.
The sire with dread the lion saw,
And wished a milder son-in-law
He was embarrassed how to choose;
’Twas hard to grant, and dangerous to refuse;
Because one might some morning see
A marriage made clandestinely.
The maid liked men with martial air,
And doted on his shaggy hair.
The father soon did this discover,
And dared not send away her lover,
So mildly to the suitor said:
“ My daughter’s delicately made,
And you might hurt her with your paws;
File down your teeth, and pare your claws;
And she, it cannot be gainsaid,
Will take your kisses with less fright,
And give you hers with more delight.”
The willing lion soon lay down;
They pared his claws, his teeth they filed.
So easily is love beguiled!
He looked like a dismantled town.
Dogs ware let loose on him amain,
And his resistance was in vain.
0 love! 0 love! when held by you,
To prudence we may say adieu!

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