Story & Song: Part 6

Welcome to the sixth and final installment of my blog series that I’m calling Story & Song. Each post will feature two pieces of music: a modern/contemporary song from the playlist of The Violinist of Venice, and a piece of Vivaldi’s music that features in the novel. I’ll describe how both pieces fit into the story with a minimum of spoilers!

Delain – “On the Other Side”

This song, as I’m sure you can hear, is just beautiful. It’s a sad, lovely, and bittersweet song about losing a loved one, about being left behind when they die, and as such it fits perfectly with the epilogue of the novel, as Adriana and Vivaldi say their last goodbyes. I would always play this song when writing/revising/reviewing that final scene in the book, and to me it’s the “rolling credits” sort of song for the book. Even now, every time I hear it I get a little emotional!

 

“Domine deus” from the Gloria in D

In chapter 65 of The Violinist of Venice, Adriana’s children give a concert for their friends and family, and enlist their mother and her best friend, Vittoria, to be the “opening act”, shall we say. Vittoria contacts Vivaldi, her former teacher at the Pieta, for a suitable score for violin and soprano, and what they end up with is this piece, the beautiful soprano solo from Vivaldi’s choral masterpiece Gloria in D, the very famous first movement of which I’m sure most people have heard, even if they didn’t realize it. So Vittoria performs this piece, accompanied by Adriana on the violin (though an oboe is used in this recording for the solo instrumental line). It is an important moment for both of them: for Adriana because she has never really performed before and is able to get a taste of what it is like, and for Vittoria because she gets to return, however briefly, to the performing career that she was forced to give up when she left the Pieta and married. And, of course, it is a lovely piece of music. Vivaldi’s work with the orphan girls at the Pieta meant that he was able to write for the female voice exceptionally well, something that, as a female singer myself, I can personally attest to!

 

This is the last post in my Story & Song series for The Violinist of Venice. If you’ve enjoyed it, though, be sure to stay tuned, as I have something similar up my sleeve planned for closer to the release date of The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence!

Story & Song: Part 5

Welcome to the fifth installment of my blog series that I’m calling Story & Song. Each post will feature two pieces of music: a modern/contemporary song from the playlist of The Violinist of Venice, and a piece of Vivaldi’s music that features in the novel. I’ll describe how both pieces fit into the story with a minimum of spoilers!

For Part 5 of Story & Song, I’ll be featuring a song that was very important in the writing of the book.

Lacuna Coil – “End of Time”

This is one of my favorite songs of all time, and one that really worked its way into The Violinist of Venice. As soon as I heard this song – on my first listen to Lacuna Coil’s 2012 album Dark Adrenaline – I knew that it perfectly fit the relationship between Adriana and Vivaldi: painful, bittersweet, and full of the knowledge that the end would come soon. This particular song, though, had a direct impact on the book. As I was working on draft two and making revisions to the original draft, one night I was listening to this song as I went over a particular scene. Because of this song, what was originally a lighthearted moment became heartbreaking and raw and real. The scene took a complete left-hand turn on me, and changed somewhat the tenor of things that needed to come after. It was inconvenient initially, but what I realized was this song helped me to see what that scene should have been all along. To this day that is one of my favorite scenes in the novel.

Stabat Mater – Movement 1

This is one of the vocal pieces featured in the novel that I’ve actually performed myself. This is honestly one of my favorite pieces that I’ve ever sung; it’s so beautiful and just felt so effortless to sing. I had to include it in the novel, as I came across it in my research and fell in love with it (and tracked down the sheet music as well!)

In the novel, Adriana hears this piece while attending Mass at the Pieta in chapter 53, and it affects her very profoundly. It also, in a roundabout way, leads to us learning something new about Adriana, though of course I won’t say here what that is!

An Ode to Venice: Piazza San Marco

In my An Ode to Venice series, I’ll be posting pictures and information about my favorite places in Venice, including those that figure into The Violinist of Venice.

For my third An Ode to Venice post – which I know has been a long time coming! – I’ll be talking about what is arguably the center of Venice, Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square.

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One of Venice’s most recognizable and famous landmarks, Piazza San Marco was called at one time “the most elegant drawing room in Europe”. In many ways the center of public life in Venice, this largest public square in the city was where people congregated to meet one another, to do business, and for civic and religious holidays, among other things. The picture above was taken from the balcony of the Basilica di San Marco, which dominates the square, along with its campanile or bell tower.

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Just to the right of the Basilica one can see a corner of the massive Doge’s Palace, the home of Venice’s elected duke as well as the seat of Venice’s government: the palace, which faces the lagoon, also houses the chambers where meetings of the Grand Council, the Senate, and the mysterious Council of Ten took place in Venice’s heyday as an oligarchic republic.

During the seasonal flooding – caused by tides – that Venetians call acqua alta (literally “high water”), the square can be under several feet of water – including the floor of the Basilica and other nearby buildings. The acqua alta typically occurs most often in the winter, though it can happen at other times of the year as well based on the weather. The first time I went to Venice (in mid-May), there had been a big thunderstorm with heavy rain the day before, and the square had flooded. By the time I got there, there were still some big puddles, but nothing extreme.

Today the Piazza San Marco is perhaps Venice’s most densely populated tourist site. Just as it was once where native Venetians would congregate, today it is something of “home base” for tourists, as it contains many of the city’s biggest attractions. There are vendors selling souvenirs every few feet, and cafes rings the piazza’s edges, including the famous Caffe Florian, one of the world’s oldest caffes. In its day it was a hangout for the likes of Giacomo Casanova, Lord Byron, and Charles Dickens. The coffee and food is ridiculously expensive, but it’s worth the experience, in my opinion.

How this location figures into The Violinist of Venice: Piazza San Marco is where Adriana and Vivaldi go for Carnevale entertainments in chapter 25, and indeed the square was host to numerous festivities during Venice’s annual Carnevale, when the populace went about in masks for months at a time, parties happened in every house and on every corner, and all sorts of scandalous and debauched behavior occurred. Later in the novel Adriana returns there with her friends for Carnevale again, at a very different time in her life.

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Story & Song: Part 3

Welcome to the third installment of my blog series that I’m calling Story & Song. Each post will feature two pieces of music: a modern/contemporary song from the playlist of The Violinist of Venice, and a piece of Vivaldi’s music that features in the novel. I’ll describe how both pieces fit into the story with a minimum of spoilers!

It’s time for Story & Song: Part 3! Today I’m featuring a song I love by a lesser-known band called Crimson Chrysalis.

Crimson Chrysalis – “Moth Around a Flame”

I stumbled across South African symphonic rock band Crimson Chrysalis a few years ago, and I am sure glad I did. Their sound is truly something different and unique, and this song, from their first album Crimson Passion Cry, is, as you’ll hear, just lovely.

This song goes with a scene in chapter 17 of The Violinist of Venice, when Adriana attends a party and meets the man who will become her suitor, Tommaso Foscari. This song, to me, fit perfectly with their first dance together because, despite the fact that Adriana has already embarked upon her affair with Antonio Vivaldi by this time, she still finds herself drawn to Tommaso: to his charm, his good looks, his kindness, his interest in her. She knows that she could love him, and her relationship with Tommaso is one that evolves and changes a great deal over the course of the novel.

 

Concerto for Violin in A Minor, Op. 3, No. 6

This concerto appears in the novel several times, but it first appears in chapter 15, which is a chapter that I am rather fond of. In this chapter, Vivaldi first gives Adriana this concerto to play, and the differences in her approach to the first movement versus the second causes him to teach her something very important about music.

I actually started to learn the first movement of this concerto when I took violin lessons as research for the novel. I was not particularly good at it, but I jumped at the opportunity to attempt this when my teacher suggested it, since I had written the first draft of this scene/chapter not long before.

This chapter also holds a special place in my heart, because it was the first portion of the novel I shared with anyone beyond one of my close friends, who is also my critique partner. I had been invited to read at the Fall Coffeehouse Open Mic event at my alma mater, Canisius College, which was being hosted by a friend of mine still in school there. I hadn’t thought of reading anything from Violinist until my critique partner asked me, “Why not?” And once the idea was out there, it was like a challenge, and I found I couldn’t back down from it. So, despite being rather nervous, I read this chapter aloud for the event, and it went over well!

Story & Song: Part 2

Welcome to the second installment of my blog series that I’m calling Story & Song. Each post will feature two pieces of music: a modern/contemporary song from the playlist of The Violinist of Venice, and a piece of Vivaldi’s music that features in the novel. I’ll describe how both pieces fit into the story with a minimum of spoilers!

Welcome to Part 2 of Story & Song! Today’s post features an artist who will surely be appearing in this series a few more times – my favorite band of all time, Nightwish.

 

Nightwish – “She Is My Sin”

This song first appeared on the Finnish heavy metal band’s 2000 album, Wishmaster. It has since been given new life as the band has performed it live on their recent tours with new lead singer Floor Jansen, and it was included on their 2013 live album/DVD Showtime, Storytime, a recording of their performance at Wacken Open Air that year (which is where the above video comes from). The band played it when I saw them live in Buffalo in April, and I was rocking out and dancing like crazy through the whole thing (causing Marco Hietala, the bass player, to keep looking over at me approvingly – I was right down in front!).

This is a song for the first love scene in The Violinist of Venice, and in listening to the song I’m sure you can see why – it’s a sexy, groovy song, and the lyrics speak of temptation and forbidden desire – perfect for my two main characters, who are embarking on a very forbidden relationship indeed.

 

Concerto for 2 Violins in A Minor, Op. 3, No. 8, II. Larghetto e spirituoso

The second movement is what is most important to the story out of this concerto, though the entire thing does figure into the novel in a later chapter. Start the above video at 3:24 to hear the second movement.

This movement appears in the novel in chapter 5, when Adriana arrives for a lesson with Vivaldi and he asks her to play it with him, as it is something he has been working on. The two play the movement together and, as I think you’ll hear, Adriana is struck by its emotional beauty. It’s an important scene because it’s the moment when the attraction between these two main characters manifests itself for the first time, and the reader gets to see how they react to it.

An Ode to Venice: The Rialto Bridge

In my An Ode to Venice series, I’ll be posting pictures and information about my favorite places in Venice, including those that figure into The Violinist of Venice.

For my second An Ode to Venice post, I am highlighting one of the landmarks of the city, the Rialto bridge.

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The Rialto Bridge (or Ponte di Rialto) is the oldest of the bridges that span the Grand Canal. Today it is usually mobbed with tourists walking across it, posing for pictures on it, and taking pictures of the view of the Grand Canal from the bridge (and it is a pretty nice view):

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Two rows of shops run up the center of the bridge, mostly souvenir and glass shops.

The Rialto area is one of the oldest sections in Venice, and was the site of the original food market, which necessitated the building of the first bridge on the site, a wooden one built in 1255. As Venice grew as a mercantile power, the Rialto district became the center of commerce and trade in the city as well. The current stone bridge was designed by Antonio da Ponte and was completed in 1591.

Like much of Venice’s magnificent – and old – architecture, maintenance and restoration is conducted on the Rialto bridge. On my visit there this past May, half of it was covered in scaffolding as such maintenance took place. It’s a bummer not to be able to fully see such a wonderful structure – and I was especially disappointed for my father, who had never been to Venice before and was seeing it that way for the first time – but of course, whatever has to be done to preserve such wonderful pieces of our history should be done where possible, in my opinion!

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How this location figures into The Violinist of Venice: During the time that the novel takes place, the Rialto was the only bridge that crossed the Grand Canal, thus my characters would have been using it a lot. The bridge and the surrounding economic/market district are mentioned a few times throughout the book. And the first time I visited it, as I walked across it I was vividly aware of the fact that Antonio Vivaldi would have walked just where I was walking. It was a very cool feeling.