Society of the Cincinnati Concert and House

Went to the Anderson House near Dupont Circle this afternoon, a turn of the century historically registered house originally owned by an ambassador and his very rich wife and now in the hands of the Society of the Cincinnati, a society originally formed by veterans of the Revolutionary War probably to try to get their salaries actually paid to them, which now interests itself in the historical time period and famous historical members such as Ambassador Anderson, and operate his house as a museum.  The Society also runs concert series in the Anderson’s small(but very fancy) ballroom, and today they had pianist Raj Bhimani performing on an expensive instrument that apparently had to be tuned just before the concert because it was so high maintenance.

It was a good instrument, and Bhimani was an even better pianist, and the result was gorgeous.  He started out with music written by modern composer Therese Brenet, who apparently has written music specifically for him to play, though the pieces we heard today, Océanides Three Preludes pour Piano, apparently weren’t.  Like most modern music is was more dissonant than tonal, with a lot of musical painting in Océanides; one felt while listening it the music was waves of the ocean, very rough and dark waves.  Her preludes were similar; the first, Vibrance, lived up to its name, seeming to exist the make chords vibrate hard, and the other two were more general mood than anything literal, with titles that translate to The Song for a Faraway World and The Light and the Scream, the mood of each fit the titles well.  Still, it was a relief to finish the first half with the slightly sweeter Sonatine of Ravel.  The second half consisted of all 24 of Frédéric Chopin’s preludes for his Opus 28, some of which are famous through pop culture osmosis, some of which are more obscure.  Before playing them he gave us a short speech on how they each stand alone and yet are connected, then went on to flow them together while expertly highlighting stronger preludes that become rising points when performed with the others, though there was one point where I got confused about where one prelude ended and the others began.  The contrast between them was especially welcome after there had been much less of it in the Brenet & Ravel of the first half.

A tour of the house was offered afterwards, and because it was raining out and we didn’t have an umbrella we went on it.  The house really was very fancy, to the point that it eventually got annoying, and the Andersons weren’t as interesting as the tour guide thought they were.  Still, some of their things were fascinating to see, from a beautiful lamp bought while they were in Tibet to the fancy ceilings that apparently in all of DC are beaten only by those of the Indonesian Embassy.  There were also a *lot* of Japanese Buddhas and other Japanese things in the house; it seemed Anderson had really taken to Japan when assigned there.  It was certainly interesting enough to fill half an hour, at which point the rain had thankfully stopped.

It was crowded at Dupont Circle and in the metro; despite the rain it was a day to be out and enjoying the temperature, neither too hot nor too cold today.  Alas, it drops again tomorrow.

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One thought on “Society of the Cincinnati Concert and House

  1. I suppose what was annoying what the implicit ideology behind assuming we all regarded of immense importance what this or that Anderson wore, who he admired, the self-gratification of all the self-glorifying (or family) pieces upholding the idea that the rich matter: because they are rich, they are valuable, or they got rich because they were valuable people. Later on I realized when the tour-guide mentioned Downton Abbey she never thought to tell us where the servants quarters in this house were. I remember being asked to worship the fantastically rich in a tourist building in Asheville, North Carolina too.

    I too loved the music, especially the Chopin Preludes.

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