A reader and a German/French friend in Berlin, a professional harpsichordist, made me a special “music video” for my birthday—and I forgot to post it! Fortunately, the music, unlike Professor Ceiling Cat, is ageless. Her description of the song and the performance follow:
This Birthday Music for you is by Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757). Scarlatti had a cat! At least one there is evidence for, in the form of a fugue entitled “The Cat’s Fugue,” which he composed on the theme of a few notes that his cat happened to hit as it was doing its nonchalant walk across the keyboard. That piece is a bit morose, though, which is why I chose another more joyous sonata in D-major for this glorious occasion.
You can imagine the scene: Scarlatti is in a good mood, developing a very happy melody for Ceiling Cats’s birthday. His little kitten distracts him, perching on the bench next to him and hitting some random keys. Scarlatti is irritated at first, then pleads for it to sit quietly, but to no avail. Finally he gives into playing music together with his little feline, thus achieving no purrfection but complete and utter joy: C’est la joie de vivre!
Most harpsichord music was written in the Baroque era in Europe (17th and 18th century). The instrument I use in this iPad recording is a 1993 copy of a Ruckers/Taskin model (17/18th century) by a builder named Sebastian Nunez (Utrecht). Mr Nunez, who is also a very fine builder of lutes, asked me what animals I wished for on the soundboard. “Cats!” For whatever reason, that was not possible, but you might find other animals on there that you like. [JAC: see if you can spot the insect.]
We harpsichordists seek to play with “cat paws”. Have you ever watched a cat retracting its paw from the ground? It’s that suppleness of “paws” that we must strive for in our work. As a result, all harpsichordists are worshippers of the Ceiling Cat!!! And it is in their name that I very humbly submit this Birthday Music to you.
Be sure you listen to the very end!
Professor Ceiling Cat is pleased.