PURCELL FESTIVAL M.CM.L.IX.

51.

PURCELL FESTIVAL M.CM.L.IX.

Paris: The Dead Language, 1959. Flyer announcing a festival "to be held in paris the second week of july to celebrate henry purcells three hundredth birthday… organised by the dead language". Text written partly in English, partly in French. Cream paper, printed letterpress in black on one side only. 21x11.7cm. Old central horizontal crease and slight handling wear, o/w Very Good.

The festival was organised by Piero Heliczer, a keen listener of English baroque, William Byrd as well as Purcell. When he visited Cambridge in early February 1960 as part of Michael Horovitz's Live New Departures, Heliczer was presented with a viola da gamba by the musicologist and Purcell exponent, Thurston Dart, an instrument that Horovitz remembers Heliczer soon mastered.

Earlier, in June 1959, a petit scandale emerged when Peter Forbes, a British tabloid journalist, visited Heliczer in Paris after hearing of his invitations to English school girls to attend the festival, one of them sent to the headmistress of Queen Anne's School in Caversham. Forbes's article appeared in the Sunday Pictorial on June 7 and featured a photograph of Heliczer with Olivia de Haulleville ("A Bohemian young scamp and his girl friend").

It claimed that Heliczer was offering "to receive groups of girls at a festival in Paris… The girls would pay their own fares, but Heliczer would provide free hotel accomodation." Forbes added that Heliczer hoped "to get one of his girl guests to act in a play he has written. It features a headless man and a girl who appears naked standing on a tombstone", and quotes the headmistress as initially having been "quite enthusiastic. Some of the girls had obtained their parents' consent and were looking forward to the trip. Now, however, we shall unquestionably withdraw. I shall write to Heliczer telling him so." The article concludes: "Other headmistresses, please copy. And Piero, please drop those crackpot capers. They will land you in real trouble one day."

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