When I began to work on my Carnival Program I didn't think too much about this as being music of the masquerade and to honest I simply associated it with heroes of Schumann and Liszt as they were described.
There is name and theme for each piece in a big Carnival by Schumann, op.9
Carnival in Vienna - also marked Schumann in name although Robert Schumann never took part at the Vienna Carnival and this opus is actually associated more with politics (listen and you can even hear music by Marseillaise)
A "Pest Carnival " by Liszt used to be referred to as just the Hungarian Phapsody N.9. It's meaning is very apparent as implied by name and has much reference even after so many years.
In the process of working on this music project I started to think a bit deeper about what actually Carnival is - what is behind it? We all associate any carnival first and foremost with masquerade and disguise so why is this element so potent in carnival.
Historically the first motive of masks was to conceal identity but the mask now seems to be used in a fare more socially complex way more to hide or conversely project our emotions. The masquerade mask has been hijacked as a method to allow us to hide our inner most thoughts of our souls without them being betrayed by the contortion of truth revealed upon our faces. We give out thoughts and desires anonymity.
Why do people wear a mask to convey the words of love?
Music by Robert Schumann always for me is most romantic and sensual. And I think he wanted to hide and encrypt many things in his Carnivals. Why would we wish to wear a mask to bare our true feelings? The reason being is that enables us to test the echoes of reaction with out revealing our true hand and rely on ambiguity as our retreat.
I used to think that a music performance could not be communicated to an audience if the performer was not, completely naked and striped bare metaphorically to allow the interpretation to be conveyed expressively. Any mask had to be stripped away but now I have a question for myself. – Do I wear the mask stamped with name of composer? Probably I do and only on hearing positive echoes from the audience do I gradually reveal my own.
Definitely, an artist is naked in front the audience but our modesty is covered by the mask of the opus.
The carnivals I have chosen as part of my project incorporate passion, love, sensuality and erotica and is only because of the mask that I can be naked and convey the sexuality and erotica of the music to affect people's feelings as intended by the composer.. It is not me, honest, but in truth it is me. The mask gives me anonymity.