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Thread: Les cloches de Hinckley

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    Les cloches de Hinckley

    Another atmospheric masterpiece from the genius Louis Vierne..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84RMbM3bUbc

    but does anyone know the background to the writing of this piece? What was the connection between the organist of Notre Dame and a small town in Leicestershire? I'd love to know.
    Last edited by jhnbrbr; Jul-15-2009 at 15:47.

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    One suggestion is that Vierne heard the carillon in the town of Hinckley when he was on one of his recital tours of England, and was inspired to write this piece.

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    I'm sure that has to be the most likely explanation, but Hinckley still seems an unlikely venue to include on his recital tours (no offence, Hincklians!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by jhnbrbr View Post
    I'm sure that has to be the most likely explanation, but Hinckley still seems an unlikely venue to include on his recital tours (no offence, Hincklians!)
    I am neither a native nor inhabitant of Hinckley and the suggestion is not mine.
    I merely passed it on having read it on a website giving a potted biography of Vierne.

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    according to Flag Digital Music summary...Rovikered you are right as to what they think was inspiration for the piece...

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    Ah! Flag Digital Music : I think that's where I read it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rovikered View Post
    One suggestion is that Vierne heard the carillon in the town of Hinckley when he was on one of his recital tours of England, and was inspired to write this piece.
    Quite so.
    Here's the story: Vierne stayed in Hinckley when he toured in England, Ireland and Scotland in 1925. He gave a concert on the 5th of may 1925 at the Parish church of St Mary on a beautiful instrument built by Norman and Beard in 1908. As Vierne and his "amoureuse" Madeleine Richepin spent the night in an hotel in front of the church, he was waken up every 15 minutes by a chime ringing a descending scale in E major. On the morning, Madeleine Richepin suggested to Louis Vierne to use the distressing theme of the chime for a composition. This idea was very soon taken up by Vierne who wrote effortless in the train to Tenbury this piece of fantaisie. From the Pierre Labric's recordings in Saint Ouen de Rouen.

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    Thanks Thierry for providing the full story.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thierry59 View Post
    Quite so.
    Here's the story: Vierne stayed in Hinckley when he toured in England, Ireland and Scotland in 1925. He gave a concert on the 5th of may 1925 at the Parish church of St Mary on a beautiful instrument built by Norman and Beard in 1908. As Vierne and his "amoureuse" Madeleine Richepin spent the night in an hotel in front of the church, he was waken up every 15 minutes by a chime ringing a descending scale in E major. On the morning, Madeleine Richepin suggested to Louis Vierne to use the distressing theme of the chime for a composition. This idea was very soon taken up by Vierne who wrote effortless in the train to Tenbury this piece of fantaisie. From the Pierre Labric's recordings in Saint Ouen de Rouen.
    Thanks for this. It's interesting (and entertaining) to hear the full story.

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    It certainly is. I wonder if there's a plaque or anything to commemorate this happy event. I think I'll go take a look next time I'm in the Hinckley area.

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    I'm afraid Labric is slightly overdoing it: at night, the Hinckley chimes sounded every three hours (not every 15 minutes).

    Moreover, they did not produce a descending scale, but a tune: actually, there were seven tunes "programmed" into the mechanism, one for each day of the week, and Vierne must have drawn the main theme of his composition from the tune that sounded on the particular night he was staying there.

    A much more likely source of inspiration for the descending scales (of which Vierne did indeed put 28(!) in a row at the end of his composition) would be change ringing: it is very likely that Vierne had the opportunity to listen to some of it during his stay in Britain (possibly in Hinckley itself).

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    The plot thickens! The piece does indeed seem to me to evoke "change ringing" very successfully and cleverly. Presumably the automatic carillon would have played hymn tunes or popular songs, so it ought to be possible to detect a recognisable melody in there somewhere too. Anyone?

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    I was the one who posted the piece on you tube; thanks for posting it here jhnbrbr, and folks for visiting. Thanks for the information Thierry. Originally I didn't find St. Mary's church when I made the video. I don't know why. Since finding this thread, I searched and found this website:
    http://www.stmarysparishchurchhinckl...%20HISTORY.htm
    and at the bottom is the story about Vierne. acc is correct. They also say he stayed with a distant relative who was organist there.

    Interestingly, according to their organ history page, there was also an organist there who died on the organ bench (on Good Friday 1932). Quite an astonishing and macabre coincidence. I assume you all know the same thing happened to Vierne 5 years later at Notre Dame.

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    Thanks to you, eameece, for posting this wonderful music in the first place. It's great how everyone has provided a piece of the jigsaw to answer my question, but i am particularly interested in your comment about the Hinckley organist being a distant relative. This confirms my original thought that Hinckley was a slightly obscure place for the organist of Notre Dame to perform, unless there was some other connection which drew him there.
    Last edited by jhnbrbr; Jul-22-2009 at 11:01.

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    Quote Originally Posted by acc View Post
    I'm afraid Labric is slightly overdoing it: at night, the Hinckley chimes sounded every three hours (not every 15 minutes).

    Moreover, they did not produce a descending scale, but a tune: actually, there were seven tunes "programmed" into the mechanism, one for each day of the week, and Vierne must have drawn the main theme of his composition from the tune that sounded on the particular night he was staying there.

    A much more likely source of inspiration for the descending scales (of which Vierne did indeed put 28(!) in a row at the end of his composition) would be change ringing: it is very likely that Vierne had the opportunity to listen to some of it during his stay in Britain (possibly in Hinckley itself).
    In the leaflet attached to the recording made by Labric, it is clearly indicated that the carillon sounded every 15 minutes whereas the site says 3 hours. I think the first version is more likely since Vierne was complaining about being waken up very often...But all the witnesses have passed away...

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