Marie Corelli and L. Emil Bach, "The Voice in the Cathedral"
Based on Chopinís Nocturne, Op. 9, no. 2
Marie Corelli Collection
Gilmore Music Library
Chopin had an extraordinary lyrical gift, and a number of his melodies have been adapted as songs. (This exhibit also includes two versions of the most famous example, “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows.”) In the manuscript shown here, Marie Corelli fit sentimental verses to the tune of Chopin’s most famous nocturne. The German-English composer and pianist Leonhard Emil Bach (1849–1902) arranged the music, retaining Chopin’s large leaps and luxuriant ornamentation. These are not easy for the singer, but they are already vocal in character, for Chopin’s nocturne style owes much to bel canto opera.
Marie Corelli was the pseudonym of Mary Mackay (1855–1924). A musician early in her career, Corelli turned her attention to literature and quickly became one of the most popular English novelists of her era. The critics dismissed her as inept, but millions of readers (including Queen Victoria) loved her books.