Art History Reports: The Music and Museum Series at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art Presents The Music and Museum

Before I begin, I just want to say that I am not a professional reporter. I am just providing first hand coverage from events related to art history. Hope you enjoy!

At the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, they are going to hold a series of concerts that reflects the art in their museum. According to John Boyer, the CEO of the museum, what the audience was seeing is “an experiment.” Plus, NPR and a local television station was recording this performance.

John Boyer speaking to the audience (My mom took these photos).

The museum dedicated this concert to the painters Pablo Picasso and Alfred Manessier. While the concert was playing, they had three of Picasso’s paintings out on display. The paintings were Femme au Chapeau from 1962


Buste de femme d’apres Cranach le Jeune, 1958

Click here to look at it. and Tete de femme de profil, also from 1958.

Regarding Alfred Manessier, his painting, Dans la flamme qui consume from 1957 was on display. According to Mr. Boyer, this was a special painting seen only by the Bechtlers until now. The Bechtlers knew the French artist personally.

The music was provided by “The Bechtler Ensemble.” In total, it was a four person orchestra consisting of a cellist (Tanja Bechtler), a violinist (Peter DeVries), a pianist (Paul Nitsch), and a guitarist (Bob Teixera).

Peter DeVries

They performed various pieces composed by DeBussy, Pablo de Sarasate, Manuel de Falla, and Joaquin Rodrigo. What’s the connection between them and the artists? Do not worry, for Mr. Boyer explained this in between performances. Regarding Debussy, he was “the connection between the Romantic and the Modern.” Furthermore, his favorite type of art was from the symbolism group. Most of all, Boyer wanted to show the connection between emotion found in Debussy’s music and the emotion found in both Picasso’s and Manessier’s art.

Regarding the Spanish composers, there was more connection beyond Picasso sharing a nationality. Boyer informed the audience that Manuel de Falla knew Picasso and composed music while Picasso created costumes for a ballet. Furthermore, the museum connected all the musical and visual artists featured in this concert together by personal conflicts between the new and the traditional. For example, all the Spanish composers had training in Paris, but at the same time, they fused their training with their Spanish roots. Regarding Picasso, even he looked to the past. His art inspired by Cranach the younger as noted with the painting on display entitled Buste de femme d’apres Cranach le Jeune.

Regarding Alfred Manessier, Boyer said that he took inspiration from Picasso’s Guernica, and he was into the surrealist movement but found his calling in abstract art. After spending time in a monastery he converted to Catholicism and promoted the faith in his art.

DeBussy Beginning

Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Minor

  1. Prologue: Lent, sustenuto e molto risoluto
  2. Serenade: Moderement anime
  3. Final: Anime, leger et nerveux

The Lent song has this element of dissonance between the cello and the piano. Serenade has a jazzy feel with its plucking and its poppy piano. It gives off this feeling of playfulness. Or going up stairs then slithering and creeping. However, it did feel like a battle between two instruments.

Pablo de Sarasate

Spanish Dance no. 1, Malaguena, Op. 21, D Major

The song was lovely and had this rich and voluptuous feel to it. Thanks to the piano involved, Malaguena also felt like a waltz. A playful quality, even.

Manuel de Falla

Suite Populaire Espagnole

  1. Nana
  2. Asturiana

Nana has a quiet quality to it. It made me think of calm blue skies and lush, green towns.

Joaquin Rodrigo


This piece was performed with a cello and a piano. According to Tanja Bechtler, she met the widow Sicilia Rodrigo who gave her notes to the piece. Out of all of the songs featured, this was probably my favorite. However, I was overwhelmed by the song’s sad atmosphere.

Then again, Rodrigo’s other work does convey a sense of melancholy.

DeBussy Finale

Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Major

  1. Allegro Vivo
  2. Intermede: fantasque et leger
  3. Finale: tres anime

The finale was more of a violin and piano duo. I can only describe the Allegro vivo piece as lively. Intermede had a violin solo that made me think of the word “voluptuous.” With the Finale, the piano conjured up imagery of raindrops. It was lively too. According to Boyer, this was DeBussy’s last piece.

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