“La Cathédrale Engloutie”—An Escher Highlight
The current exhibition, M.C. Escher: Other Worlds, explores pieces both new and familiar by Dutch artist M.C. Escher. The beautiful print La Cathédrale Engloutie is perhaps one of these unknown pieces, but its backstory has ties to French composer Claude Debussy.
This print was directly inspired by Claude Debussy’s musical interpretation of an ancient Breton myth. On clear mornings, this “sunken cathedral” was fabled to rise up from the depths of the sea, piercing the surface of the transparent water. After hearing a performance of La cathédrale engloutie by pianist Erwin Fischer, Escher produced his own visualization of the legend and sent a copy of it to the pianist as a token of his esteem.
As you visit the exhibition M.C. Escher: Other Worlds at the BYU Museum of Art, you will have the unique opportunity to listen to different pieces of music played by a Bösendorfer piano equipped with Disklavier technology, provided by Baldassin Pianos of Draper, Utah. This piano is equipped to play different pieces of music in the gallery—musical compositions from which Escher drew inspiration, including La cathédral engloutie by Debussy.
As you listen to this piece, notice as the distant sounds of chanting priests, chiming bells, and organ pipes emerge—and submerge again—from the depths of the sea.
Image: M.C. Escher, La Cathédrale Engloutie. ©2017 The M.C. Escher Company, The Netherlands. All rights reserved. www.mcescher.com