|Syrinx - Arthur Hacker - 1892|
In fact, Syrinx, written by Claude Debussy in 1913, elaborates the ancient Greek myth of Syrinx and Pan and the musicality born from their unfortunate encounter...
Debussy's ethereal music creates a plaintive, soulful sound that is literally enchanting and joyful too in all its magical beauty. It still makes my skin prickle just as it did when I was a child! It is a relatively short piece, of around three minutes in length, which seems to make it all the more haunting because it does not get diluted in any way. Syrinx was unusual for its time (just before the First World War) since it was an avant-garde solo flute performance. Originally called Flûte de Pan, it was intended to provide atmospheric background music to the uncompleted play, Psyche, by Gabriel Mourey.
|Faeries -Brian Froud and Alan Lee 1978 Pan Editions|
|Not Pan, but a Scottish Urisk (Faeries - Brian Froud and Alan Lee 1978 Pan Editions)|
There are variations to the sequence of events, but Pan chased the fleeing nymph who successfully escaped him until she reached the river Ladon. Finding herself in front of an unsurmountable obstacle, she begged the water nymphs to turn her into water reeds so that she could hide in the marshes.
Unable to locate his prey, Pan was only able to lay his greedy hands on the reeds. Noticing the plaintive notes produced by these through his sighs of desperation Pan cut the reeds down, using nine pieces to fashion himself a pipe to play, only then realizing that he had just killed Syrinx.
|From Faeries - Brian Froud and Alan Lee 1978 Pan Editions|
Although it was Ovid who first wrote about Syrinx and Pan in his Metamorphoses, but the English poet John Keats (1795-1825) also gave an account..
... fair trembling Syrinx fled Arcadian Pan, with such a fearful dread.
Poor nymph- poor Pan - how he did weep to find
Nought but a lovely sighing of the wind
Along the reedy stream; a half-heard strain,
Full of sweet desolation, balmy pain.
So with a haunting melody I'll say goodbye to 2012 - not a great year - and will look forward to 2013!