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Nearest and Dearest

Sample score from our collection:

Nearest and Dearest
Waltz, on airs from Audran’s comic opera, Olivette,

by Charles d’Albert

Audran’s opera Olivette (Les noces d’Olivette) was first played in Paris in 1879 and then in London  in 1880-1881 (English language adaptation).  It must have been well received because not only did it go on to play at the Strand Theatre for 466 performances but the music was also adapted and released in several versions intended for home use. Charles d’Albert, the prolific composer/arranger, produced a waltz for piano (solo or duet) based on airs from the opera. Vocal pieces and pieces for the piano were also released, as demonstrated by adverts placed by Chappell and Co in other music publications (such as in this version of Iolanthe from 1882).Cover of 'Nearest and Dearest'

D’Albert’s version is marketed under the heading ‘dance music’ and was presumably intended not only to be played and listened to but also to be suitable for dancing. That d’Albert’s dance music was popular is not surprising when it is considered that he was very familiar with dance himself. Before he dedicated his time fully to composing and teaching, d’Albert had been a dancer. He had worked with in Paris and been a ballet-master at the King’s Theatre, London, and Covent Garden. He also published a book on ballroom etiquette.

The cover of the scores digitised by the What’s the Score at the Bodleian project advertises other works by the same composer: “Olivette Quadrille, Waltz & Polka” & Torpedo Galop. The cover also features a portrait of Violet Cameron who starred in the London production of Olivette. Cameron (1862-1919) had made her stage début only eight years old, and went on to have an intermittent career in comic opera and opera bouffe. She is said to be “blessed with extremely blond hair [and] a fine figure” (Richard Foulkes, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).

logo: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licence In this recording of the Nearest and Dearest waltz, made for the What’s the Score at the Bodleian project, we hear Ben Sheen on the piano. The recording is released with the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licence. It can be reused and redistributed globally provided that it is used in a non-commercial way and the reuse is attributed to “What’s the Score at the Bodleian?” and Ben Sheen. If you derive a new work from the recording, the new work may be distributed provided it is released under the same licence.

You can read about the recording session when this and other pieces were recorded in our  ‘So that’s what they sound like…’ blog post. More project recordings and scores are available on the project webpage.

To hear the music from the Olivetti opera, listen to the MIDI files made available by Colin M. Johnson

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