Composers anecdotes

A Cantata for Dogs

Between 1911 and 1914, Nicolas Medtner stayed at Khlebnikovo, a house on the Osipov estate in the village of Trakhaneyevo.

There were visits by the family, brothers Karl and Alexander and sister Sofiya, with their children. Karl’s daughter Vera brought her dachshund with her and would join her uncle Kolya [Nicolas] and Flix [Nicolas’ fox terrior] for walks in the forest. It was Medtner’s invariable habit to finish his practice with a C major perfect cadence, which Flix recognized as heralding a walk. The enthusiastic noise which both dogs made at these moments prompted the composer to write for Vera a humourous 19 bars-long Cantata in C major, ending with the requisite perfect cadence, to which he gave the grandiose title, ‘Pantheistic Cantata for Three Voices (with piano introduction and the barking of dogs on the word ‘walk’)’.  

Barrie Martyn (1995) Nicholas Medtner: His Life and his Music. Aldershot: Scolar Press, p.93.

By Greg

Australian composer and pianist