Marschner - Overture to Der Vampyr

13 Pieces for Halloween, no.7. The name “Marschner” isn’t well known today. He was an important figure in German opera during the 19th century, and he was admired by Beethoven and Mendelssohn, and became an influence to Wagner. His opera Der Vampyr is based off of the book “The Vampyre” by John William Polidori, a Romantic writer who is considered to be the father of Vampire fiction. Before Count Dracula, there was Lord Ruthven. Polidori worked with Lord Byron, and while in Switzerland they hung out with another major poet, Percy Shelley, his fiancee Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, and her step sister Claire Clairmont. Famously, the group were stuck in a lodge because of a thunderstorm, and after reading ghost stories, Lord Byron suggested they all make up scary stories to tell to each other. The most iconic work to be born out of this evening would be Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. The other was Polidori’s The Vampyre. If this doesn’t fit for Halloween, I don’t know what does. Like most Gothic novels, the work follows a young woman who has been seduced by a mysterious figure, and she grows suspicious of him. The more time she spends with him, the slowly she starts to uncover the dark secrets he’s been hiding. Spoiler alert: he’s a vampire. Shocking I know. Marschner’s setting of the work keeps the novelty drama that comes with the new retelling of old legends, and the overture opens with a very dramatic, chromatic, and unstable theme [no surprise that Wagner would be inspired], before switching to a more noble and lighthearted theme. The two contrasting ideas wrestle with each other through grand orchestral writing until the rocking climax that then begins the story.

mary wollstonecraft is a very important lady and you should know some things about her:

  • she’s considered to be one of the founding feminist philosophers of the 18th century and wrote a vindication for the rights of woman which said that women, then thought to be naturally inferior, only seemed this way because of a lack of education
  • in her other works, she also attacks aristocracy, the patriarchy, slavery, and the church of england
  • while most feminists of the time agreed with a lot of what she wrote, they found her personal life too wild and liberal and “passionate”
  • she once tried to woo a married man/convince him to run away with her and he was all “but i’m married” so wollstonecraft asked his wife if she wanted to come along too and be in a polyamorous relationship (the wife said no)
  • she was passionately anti-marriage, but when she did get married it was to famous feminist anarchist william godwin (who was also anti-marriage), and they only married because she was pregnant and they wanted their child to have a better life/have the rights of a legitimate child
  • that child was mary shelley, author of frankenstein and inventor of science fiction

We are not those who burnt, because flames were deemed too showy for wilting flowers
except when fire was chosen as the only way to teach us again
how to be silent

We are those who march with our own pace, our hearts hollow diamonds capable of engulfing all the rivers of the Earth
and love them

We are those who were running on the island which still remembers us and calls to us,
racing the wind and the goddesses,
verses in our heads and violets tangled in our hands

We are those defying the implicit rules in the chaotic city we loved
and hated
and spited
and the world buried us under heaps of parchment which would make people feel for centuries

We are mothers and daughters of the same name, walking different parts of Europe in different years,
asking for rights or inventing the modern novel during a storm
– how appropriate

We are those who let words flow from our pen in letters similar to streams
and novels to rivers,
always water surrounding us, water we would ultimately

We are those conjoining under a bright and coloured southern sky after the grey and brown of a city where only others seemed to be able to write,
because between us two we had
the Earth and the Moon

We are all of those,
and more anonymous legions still, forgotten but alive, trampled on but with our eyes intact and our voices sharpened like knives

We are, after all, daughters of so many goddesses;
you thought you were naming storms after us
– it is we who created them

—  We Were Just Allowed to Breathe and Yet Hurricanes are Female, E.M.F.

Epicurus: self care is eating a pot of cheese and chillin with the squad

Wollstonecraft: self care is bisexual pride and vindicating the rights of women

Confucius: self care is ritual propriety and submitting to daddy

Plato: self care is a structurally enforced class system and raping children

Pythagoras: self care is triangles.

The greatest feminists have also been the greatest lovers. I’m thinking not only of Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley, but of Anais Nin, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and of course Sappho. You cannot divide creative juices from human juices. And as long as juicy women are equated with bad women, we will err on the side of being bad.
—  Erica Jong (b. 26 March 1942)

Never mind all these beautiful historical dramas I want a modern day sit com about the Romantic poets like

  • Byron, Shelley, and Keats are roommates.
  • Byron is constantly a dick and Keats is constantly like “fight me” and Shelley is constantly exasperated. 
  • “I swear to God, George, if you even think about fighting him-”
    “Well he asked me to.” 
    “He’s also five feet tall.” 
  • Felicia Hemans lives across the hall from them and everyone thinks she’s really sweet because she bakes a lot and dresses conservatively but she is constantly lowkey throwing shade at everyone. 
  • Byron hates her because she’s better than him at everything. 
  • Mary Wollstonecraft also lives in their building and owns a lot of t-shirts with feminist slogans on. 
  • Every time she bumps into Shelley in the hallway he asks whether her daughter is coming to visit any time soon. He is much less subtle about it than he thinks he is. 
  • Byron frequently gets into flame wars with people on the internet. 
  • “George it’s 3am why are you still awake?” 
    Someone was talking shit about Pope.”
    “Not again.” 
  • At this point, Keats and Shelley have a script they can run through every time they open the door to a crying person asking why Byron never called them back. 
  • A running joke in which there is a loud noise every time someone says Shelley’s middle name correctly. 
  • Another running joke in which Byron and his sister constantly get mistaken for a couple.