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Note about the Silent Gondoliers

August 24, 2008


The music for several instrumental pieces accompanying the Italia2008 slideshows (see post above) comes from The Silent Gondoliers (and can be downloaded at myspace.com/douglaseye ). The name was inspired by Byron’s poem “Child Harold’s Pilgrimage” (I Stood In Venice). Here’s the relevant excerpt, about the persistence of beauty, from one of the innumerable works inspired by this most curious, stirring city:

In Venice Tasso’s echoes are no more,
And silent rows the songless gondolier;
Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,
And music meets not always now the ear:
Those days are gone–but Beauty still is here;
States fall, arts fade–but Nature doth not die,
Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear,
The pleasant place of all festivity,
The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!

Byron is lamenting how gondoliers have stopped crooning verses of the Roman poet Tasso across the canals as Venice’s prosperity altered its culture. Here is something about that from an 1834 edition of the “The Penny Magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge” (a magazine in need of revival, though perhaps Wikipedia has taken its place!) The Silent Gondoliers are not meant as a lament, though, but as a reference to instrumental music. Think of a gondolier humming a tune in his head as he glides down a darkened back canal of Venice. (Are there female gondoliers, BTW?)



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2 Responses to “Note about the Silent Gondoliers”

  1. Tamas Feher from Hungary Says:

    There are only three lady gondoliers. There is one lady in Venezia itself (Ms. Alexandra Hai) and one in Amsterdam and one in the USA.

  2. Douglas Says:

    I did not know that! Thanks. Next time I am in Venezia, I will keep a lookout.