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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Glory (????) of Florence

Remember Robertson Davies' plan to rival the world's greatest pianists with his own unique approach to technique? Well, along a similar vein, a while ago I became aware of Florence Foster Jenkins. This evening I've been re-visiting some online recordings of her vocal prowess, and FavoriteBoy and I have had some good laughs. You can listen to her infamous Queen of the Night here. And if you can stomach the strange birds flashing across the screen, you might also enjoy hearing her rendition of The Laughing Song.

The Wikipedia article on Jenkins pretty much sums up the situation with the first sentence: Florence Foster Jenkins was an American soprano who became famous for her complete lack of rhythm, pitch, tone, and overall singing ability. The whole article is quite funny; I think my favorite sentence may be this one: After a taxicab crash in 1943 she found she could sing "a higher F than ever before." Doesn't that quote just explain a lot?

As you can tell from the article and the recording, Florence Foster Jenkins has an absolutely wretched voice. And yet this woman made quite a career for herself - due in part to money she inherited from relatives and in part to the amusement she no doubt provided to her audiences. (I mean, really, I'd pay money to see a woman in an angel costume singing completely horribly! And FavoriteBoy says he would, too.)

A number of her records are now collector's items, including one with a witty and apt title: The Glory (????) of the Human Voice. And if you just can't get enough of her glorious voice, there's a record called Murder on the High C's, too.

Now I'm wondering if I can turn my career in this direction somehow. After all, the world is full of middling-to-good violinists. But I wonder if I could become incredibly bad and make it a profitable venture? Not a bad idea, eh?

(Jack Benny, anyone?)

5 comments:

  1. Oh ugh. I can't even make it through one recording. Wow.

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  2. Hysterical. By the way, I stumbled across your blog a couple of days ago, and I want you to know that both the style and substance of your writing are captivating. I plan to keep reading, if you don't mind. Keep writing!

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  3. Oops - didn't realize my profile wasn't linked to my blog. I wanted you to see it so that you'd know I was a real person and not a scary cyberstalker. We're at mashaandjeremy.blogspot.com.

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  4. Anonymous8:57 PM

    Hi Sarah. Kind of glad you found me. :) We'll see how much time I spend blogging, but maybe it will be good. Anyway, I hope you're having a good summer and I DO miss you and Nathan tons. See you in July!

    ~ H

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  5. Christopher8:53 PM

    Oh Heavens!!!!
    That was even worse than me!!

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