Feeling undervalued or anonymous?

Do you sometimes feel underappreciated at work or in the home? Perhaps the boss or children don’t notice because you don’t make a big deal of things – like you do many things that allow for a smooth running, but hardly get the credit because nothing goes wrong and people don’t notice? You may want to consider the case of the composer Cesar Franck, a classical Mr Unknown.

There are many classical music pieces that will be considered iconic for their genre. Think “piano” and one of the names that will come up is Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fur Elise. Think “orchestra”, and perhaps the net widens to include the same composer’s Ode to Joy, although it is decidedly harder to narrow the list. Think “vocal”, and one of the pieces you might get is the Belgian composer Cesar Franck’s Panis Angelicus.

The popularity of this piece may be partly down to its frequent appearance in talent shows. Its popularity perhaps even outstrips the composer’s himself. Franck was born in the town of Liège in 1822, was his country’s most significant composer of the Romantic period.

Unlike some musical households, where the father preferred his children not to follow a career in music, Franck came from a very ambitious family and his father believed him to be destined for a career as a concert pianist. However, despite the considerable pressure that was placed on the young boy’s shoulders, he never quite achieved the heights that his father envisioned. And so when Franck first applied to study at the Paris Conservatoire, he had to do so not as a performer but instead as a composer.

Yet one might say that there was a certain level of irony in the fact that after graduating, Franck made his living as a teacher and organist in Paris, before eventually becoming Organ Professor at the very same conservatoire he had been overlooked as a performer at.

Being overlooked was perhaps a recurring theme – in nineteeth century Paris, opera was in favour at the moment. Composers of instrumental and choral music were less in the headlights, and Franck wasn’t seen as being particularly relevant by the masses.

Despite being known (or overlooked!) as the composer of Panis Angelicus, in recent times, a number of other works by Franck have attained popularity, such as the Symphony in D minor, Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra, and a Violin Sonata. (Panis Angelicus, by the way, is not a standalone piece – it is incorporated within a mass setting from 1861.) Franck may have remained anonymous within the general public despite the popularity of his piece. The same goes for the composer Joaquin Rodrigo, who was pretty much unknown bar his Concierto Aranjuez (you can find out more about Rodrigo from the N4 piano teacher website). Their works have endured for decades and centuries, but not many know who they are!

The significance of numbers

Numbers can be significant markers along the journey of life. Think about it; we celebrate birthdays such as the sixteenth because it means the progression into adulthood. But why sixteen? It could be that it is the legal voting age and so reaching that milestone is worthy of celebration. Another number that is often used as a marker is eighteen. But it pales in comparison to twenty one. Perhaps part of the fascination with that particular number is that it holds a particular association with luck. In the game blackjack, one of the ways you win is if your cards total up to twenty one. Twenty one is the age associated with maturity and adulthood, with growing responsibilities. Reaching that age implies reaching a particular stage in life.

As one progresses further along the journey of life, we tend to mark our progression by decades. We reach our thirties and then our forties. Perhaps the most significant marker after that is our fifties. After all, it is at that particular stage in life that we can move on part of the way to the next rung.

Century.

The age of fifty is not so much thought of as five decades, but as reaching the midpoint of a venerable century. A person turning fifty is seen as having attained a wealth of experience and has attained some stature, so his our her opinion on matters holds more weight than someone who has turned twenty one.

We can extend the attachments to number significance beyond humans to objects too. A company that has been in existence for forty years is more reputable – or viewed that way anyway – as one that is recent.

The London Underground’s Victoria Line turns fifty this month and its achievement in ferrying millions of passengers in that time is commendable. At the same time, it has opened up employment opportunities to millions. You can live in Brixton while working in Walthamstow. You can enjoy different work and recreational opportunities.

One of the recreational opportunities you can enjoy around Finsbury Park is the gift of music. If you are ever looking to learn a musical instrument like the piano, a good starting point is the pianoworks website, where you can find out about piano lessons in N8 and N4. It’s only a short hop away from the Victoria Line, but you needn’t worry about travel – the piano teacher comes to you! Now that is a 100% winner!

What do you want for your children to attain by the particular milestones?