Tanya’s special music lesson

Higher superstition

Given the technical challenges in what Tanya Yip is trying to sing, it’s perhaps not too surprising that she needs a little extra help.

(Natalie Dessay show us how it’s done here in case your sight reading is a little rusty.)

The rather unusual and improving singing lesson that Tanya gets has its own rather unusual and special inspiration:  a famous (or notorious) painting by Balthasar Kłossowski de Rola, or Balthus (1908-2001) as he was more commonly known.  The painting is The Guitar Lesson (1934), and I’ll bet it’s scandalous even today (note that the image is from Wikipedia; I am reproducing it in-line for reader convenience):

Controversial, but unquestionably high art created by one of the twentieth century’s greatest painters.  It is even used by Richard Posner in his magisterial 1992 book Sex and Reason (pp. 376-7) as an example of how it can be nigh impossible to draw a clean distinction between “art” and “pornography.”

Judge Posner helpfully notes also that the girl in the painting whose guitar lesson has turned into a very different kind of lesson is in the same position as Christ in Enguerrand Quarton‘s fifteenth century La Pietà de Villeneuve-lès-Avignon.

Ah, so it’s blasphemy as well as art!  Good, good…