Stephanie Solanki, 10/15/12

In today’s class, we opened by talking about zeitgeist. Mendelssohn was a composer at the same time as Beethoven, yet Beethoven is so much more famous than he is in this age. This is because Mendelssohn appealed to his time period. His music was influenced by the Victorian era, and his music influenced the Victorian era. I thought this was an interesting concept. Mendellsohn’s music was for that specific era, and so it didn’t become as famous at Beethoven’s because his music transcended time.

Felix Mendelssohn was a very educated individual. He was very wealthy. He was interested in composing orchestral music, and his father hired musicians to play his music so he could practice. He went on a grand tour of Europe; this was part of his education. He saw Scotland, and wrote the “Scottish Symphony.” He was a German man who took his idea of a Scottish dance and put it into a symphony. He imagined another culture by putting it into music.

We listened in class to Mendelssohn’s most famous music piece of all time. It is called the “Wedding March” from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” This was an incidental music for the play, which was written for a specific scene or between scenes. Dr. Kahan said that we don’t think about this piece as something that someone had to write down at one point in time; it is just a part of our culture. I will try now to look at popular music pieces differently, and look at each piece of music as something that someone created.

InĀ Washington Square, James set back the novel 20 years before than at the time it was written. He chose to start the novel in 1850 because the Civil War was in 1861. There are no wars in 1850. It was a period of stability and economic prosperity. The Civil War altered society, and so it would had altered the arts. This goes back to the idea of zeitgeist. The novel is calledĀ Washington Square because the title is meant to evoke the calm nature of the setting, Washington Square Park.

We then compared the two movies Washington Square and The Heiress. In Washington Square, the director chose to cut the red dress that Catherine wore and switched it with a blue and yellow dress. I think that this is a terrible choice on the director’s part because the red dress was such an important part of the story. It shows how she looked older than she was, even though she was not trying to be flirtatious. In both versions, however, Catherine is portrayed as a very awkward and unusual young lady. Her father is also very mean and blunt in both versions. The two Morris’ were very different. In The Heiress, it seemed as if Morris had known of Catherine before. However in Washington Square, it seems like the two were meeting at the same time. He also seemed as if he was trying to “match her awkwardness,” as Naomi put it. I feel like both versions have their own strengths and weaknesses. I think that the newer version of the story imposes the modern age social constructs onto the characters of the novel.

I really cannot wait to see The Heiress on Wednesday. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and am looking forward on the onstage production of it. I am expecting the acting to be outstanding, considering the star-studded cast.