Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley : Souvenirs de Bienne (Bienne, Switzerland) - Piano (Composer)

Performed/recorded by pianist Casey Robards

Souvenirs de Bienne – In the summer of 1991, Jim Ross took me to meet Violette Bangerter at her home in Bienne, Switzerland. During the week or so we were there, Violette celebrated her 70th birthday party with dozens of well-known musicians who came to play a massive concert which was held in a beautiful church overlooking the lake in Bienne. I don’t remember whether Jim suggested I write a birthday present for Violette, of whether I got the idea myself. There are four movements to the little piece: Looking at Bienne from Magglingen, Violette, Jacqueline and Loukoum.

Looking at Bienne from Magglingen – Magglingen is a small village near Bienne which sits on top of a mountain. Jim and I went up the lift one day to Magglingen, to look at Bienne from atop the mountain. The view was beautiful, and unfortunately, I’m afraid of heights.

Violette – Violette’s name is represented by the triad which sounds as her name sounds. In my memory, she is like a Saint. It seems throughout her life she did wonderful things for people and especially musicians. The music reflects her introspective, thoughtful and loving spiritual presence. Violette loved French music, so the piece is inspired by French writing from early in the 20th century; the same time in which Violette was born.

Jacqueline – Jacqueline is Violette’s daughter. Much like Violette, yet with a light, buoyant, playful character. The middle of Jacqueline’s piece has Violette’s motive reappear of course, because of the relationship. Jacqueline and Violette are close, and so each of their music appears in the same piece together.

Loukoum – Loukoum is Violette’s dog. In this piece, Violette's and Jacqueline's motives are included with Loukoum's decending minor 7th (from the pronunciation of his name). The whole family is together. Loukoum has as much character as a dog is allowed to have. Running and barking – sometimes suddenly, Loukoum lays down, and appears to be able to immediately fall asleep. Other times, he barks at the ‘evil’ swan (‘evil’ to him, I’m sure) on Violette’s lake; one time, barking so ferociously he falls in. Jacqueline shows up just in time to dry him off. Then, Loukoum gets into more trouble by interrupting a Brahms Horn Trio rehearsal in Violette’s living room. It appears Loukoum has been trained to prefer French composers, and therefore, cannot allow even very famous and beloved German works to be rehearsed in Violette’s living room. One cannot argue musical tastes with a dog, who inevitably, has the last word.