Allegro Vivace 8th Symphony


Original etching

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31.6 x 36.7 cm
Etching and stipple on paper
Edition: 55

Norman Lindsay Etchings: Catalogue Raisonné (Odana Editions and Josef Lebovic Gallery, 2006, cat.269)
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Achenbach foundation for graphic Arts, USA
Museum of Art, University of Melbourne

Norman's profound understanding of Beethoven's music is awe-inspiring. Allegro Vivace 8th Symphony is Norman's visual conception of the last movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op.93 (1812).

In Kenneth Slessor's article 'An Interview with Norman Lindsay', published in the 1930 Norman Lindsay Number of Art in Australia, Norman spoke at length about the etching: ... it is one of the few works of my own that I can look at with pleasure — though that is possibly because it but roughly defines the enormous delight the Eighth Symphony itself has been to me. I like the etching because I believe it follows fairly closely the musical form of the final Allegro Vivace — its general background of pattering, downward-rushing little figures, culminating in a rollicking, scrambling crescendo, and swaying out into the swooning, mooning lovers, with the stamping, thundering, blundering giants of a full orchestra behind, and the little trembling, squeaking single fiddle hopping before. For pure mad humour, nothing has ever touched, or ever will touch, that movement.

Years later Norman wrote a more detailed description to John Hetherington: Our response to great art is balanced between what we get out of it and what we bring to it. I had this brought home to me with rather staggering effect the other night when I put on the record of Beethoven's 8th Symphony. I once did an etching on the last movement of that symphony. The composition of the etching was this — In the sky, a couple of giants, stamping and rollicking among the clouds, and roaring with laughter (full orchestra — allegro vivace). Down in one corner, a couple of tiny fauns, skipping (single violins — scherzo). The whole centre of the composition, a mass of figures rushing down hill; leaping, cavorting, tumbling over each other till they reach level ground on which couples sway off in the sentimental embrace of the waltz (allegro vivace — minuetto). I don't doubt that all that is in the music. All I did was to translate it into my own form imagery.

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