Goyaesques is a musical depiction of 5 paintings by the Spanish Painter Francisco Goya (1746 – 1828).
The piece opens with a regal fanfare depicting La familia de Carlos IV, a portrait of the royal family. Not everyone in the painting is beautiful, on the contrary some are rather disgusting and hag-like. The central figure is Queen Maria Luisa , who by all accounts ran the country while the king was out hunting. Goya “Photoshopped” himself into the background and can be seen at his easel in the back left.
Corral de locos shows an event at an insane asylum. Goya feared losing his own sanity and in this painting two men are fighting with the warden intervening. The English horn, perhaps the most insane of all instruments, takes the listener from a recessed hiding spot forward out into the yard. Others join in watching the brief fight before everyone retreats back into hiding.
La maja desnuda was a very controversial painting in Goya’s time. The woman is proud of her body and not afraid to flaunt it. The music swirls around lushly but we are left with a hint of a question – nothing is certain about who the subject was. Some have speculated that she was Goya’s mistress, or perhaps the prime-minister’s mistress. She could be a composite of many women. Either way, she would have certainly been an outcast for posing for this portrait.
El baile de San Antonio de la Florida is a dance in rondo form. Goya’s painting shows a group of musicians and dancers. The open circle invites us to join and take a turn soloing. The music culminates in everyone doing their own variation on the dance in their own time, but expertly ending together.
Saturno devorando a su hijo is one of Goya’s “Black Paintings.” After going deaf, Goya bought a home called “Quinta del Sordo” or “House of the Deaf.” Here he lived in seclusion and painted several works whose themes are were intense, haunting and dark. These were never meant for public view and were painted directly onto the wall. Saturno depicts the Titan Kronos (Romanized to Saturn) eating his newborn son after it was foretold that one of his sons would usurp his throne. The music is primal and terrifying with a steady ticking of a clock. As bells toll, the hour gets closer and closer to the birth where upon he immediately devours the infant whole. Shock and awe are all we are left with, as the carnage echoes in our minds.