• Lord Berners
  • Le Poisson d'Or (1915)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)
  • pf
  • 3 min

Programme Note

Composed in 1915, and originally published with an illustrated cover designed by Natalia Gontcharowa, Le Poisson D’Or is dedicated to Stravinsky. A poem in French precedes the music and lays out the programme for the piece. The poem, in translation, runs:
Forlorn and alone, the goldfish circles his crystal bowl.
He dreams of a little mate, beautiful and shiny as a twenty franc piece…
But, alas, some rash fool throws him a lump of bread. It disappears into the muddy water.
The goldfish swallows the lump of bread joylessly and continues circling, forlorn and alone, in his crystal bowl.

The music follows the poem, closely deriving a ternary form from it. On a more philosophical level, Berners might have been adding an elliptical autobiographical element to the piece.

© 1998 Philip Lane