Squawky interlude - Florence Foster Jenkins
Are you feeling too relaxed? Do your nerves need jangling? Do you want to rouse the savage beast in your pet? Have you any glassware that needs shattering? Or are you just a poor singer who needs to know that there's someone worse? Click here for Florence Foster Jenkins, who sounds for all the world like a hyena being machine-gunned:
From her recordings, it is apparent that Jenkins had little sense of pitch and rhythm and was barely capable of sustaining a note. Her accompanist can be heard making adjustments to compensate for her tempo variations and rhythmic mistakes. Her dubious diction, especially in foreign language songs, is also noteworthy. Nonetheless, she became tremendously popular in her unconventional way. Her audiences apparently loved her for the amusement she provided rather than her musical ability. Critics often described her work in a backhanded way that may have served to pique public curiosity.
Despite her patent lack of ability, Jenkins was firmly convinced of her greatness. She compared herself favourably to the renowned sopranos Frieda Hempel and Luisa Tetrazzini, and dismissed the laughter which often came from the audience during her performances as coming from her rivals consumed by "professional jealousy." She was aware of her critics, however, saying "People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."
Is there a word for unintentionally damning oneself with faint praise? Probably not, because it happens so rarely. Tracey Emin and other "artists" could learn a thing or two from Florence Foster Jenkins.
Posted on 11/25/2007 6:13 AM by Mary Jackson