The nose

Hughes, Ed (2015) The nose. [Composition]

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THE NOSE by Ed Hughes for piano solo (11’)

A score in five movements to Alexandre Alexeieff and Claire Parker’s film, The Nose (1963)

Written for Clare Hammond.
First performance: Clare Hammond, The Cornerstone Festival, Liverpool; 23 November 2015.

In Alexeieff’s and Parker’s film of Gogol’s The Nose, the following events occur:

Dawn over the Neva River, St Petersburg; the ice breaks; morning light strikes the home of the barber. On the morning of 25 March, barber Ivan Yakovlevich finds a nose in his freshly baked breakfast roll. He realises it is the nose of one of his customers, Collegiate Assessor Kovalyov (or ‘Major Kovalyov). He is scolded by his wife who fears that he has cut it off deliberately.

Ivan throws the nose away on the street by a sentry box; he is challenged by a policeman concealed by a street light, who forces him to pick it up again. He throws the nose into the Neva River, and runs away. The same morning, Major Kolvalyov wakes from dreams of love to discover his nose is missing, leaving a ‘completely empty, flat spot’ on his face. His nose, he discovers, has assumed a life of its own. He sees it entering and leaving a private house, and climbing into a carriage.

Major Kovalyov pursues and confronts the nose in Kazan Cathedral, but finds that it has acquired a higher rank in the civil service than his own.

The Nose refuses to return to Kovalyov’s face with the remark, ‘There you are wrong, respected sir; I am myself’. Kovalyov sees a slim young girl in a white dress and smiles at her but suddenly remembers he is exposing his noseless face and withdraws. Meanwhile the Nose escapes. He pursues it futilely through the streets. He returns to his apartment where his nose is returned to him by the police officer who caught Ivan. Delighted, he tries to reattach the nose…

…But finds he cannot. At last, on the 7 April, Kovalyov wakes up with his nose restored. He is overjoyed. Ivan the barber enters. In the story, he is carefully shaved by the barber, and promenades about the city to show it off; Alexeieff and Parker’s film ends with the more enigmatic image of the barber’s razor hovering in close-up over Kovalyov’s nose.

Item Type: Composition
Keywords: Piano, Silent film music
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Music
Subjects: M Music. Literature on music. Musical instruction and study > M Music > M0005 Instrumental music > M0006 One solo instrument
M Music. Literature on music. Musical instruction and study > M Music > M0005 Instrumental music > M0176 Motion picture music
Depositing User: Ed Hughes
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2016 09:44
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2016 09:44

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