Welcome back as we teeter on the edge of lockdown being reduced, and as our interstate friends marvel at our stamina. I was surprised that we could be ten around a table at home, a welcome respite in Spring.

So much good musical news as most of the flagship companies are releasing exciting 2022 programs, and many of the independent companies are planning to do so.

I have enjoyed a number of Melbourne Digital Concert Hall concerts. It was good to see Stefan Cassomenos and Monica Curro perform Mantra that included Stefan’s Violin Sonata No. 2. Elyane Laussade performed the same evening to celebrate the 400th concert in Melbourne of the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall with Schubert’s momentous last Piano Sonata.

There might not have been a Port Fairy Spring Music Festival this month, but it was ably represented by Stephen McIntyre in a superb program of 10 Chopin dances, also on Melbourne Digital Concert Hall.

Finally, something to look forward to this coming Sunday- 24 October at 2pm, the final of the 3MBS Melbourne Young Performer of the year presented by Colin Fox on 3MBS FM, digital and streaming from

Today’s newsletter stream is about Canto 13 of the Divine Comedy called Pier de la Vigne and the Sweet-Faced Ladies.

The topic of this episode of Dante Detective is the circle of the suicides represented by the sad Pier de la Vigne. Like Dante, Pier de la Vigne was a diplomat, poet and statesman but , unlike Dante, in the generation before. He served Frederick II faithfully for 28 years before the tide turned and he was imprisoned in the Frederick Tower at San Miniato. The tower can still be visited today. It is a canto full of beauty and pathos. Classical references are adapted by Dante to his conception of suicides forming a forest. There is a strong underlying current of how bitter betrayal feels like when you have worked all your life for one cause.

The image of Pier de la Vigne (or Pietro della Vigna) in the forest is both sad and beautiful. Dante’s description of the sound of his voice, like splintering wood or the sputtering of green sticks in a fire, is musical and evocative. I am surprised that this hasn’t inspired more composers over the years. Here is a clip from a work categorised as both a musical and an opera, depicting the Forest of the suicides and de la Vigna within it. I love it!

From La Divina Commedia by Marco Frisina

Lovely Links

The harpies mentioned in Canto 13 are rather more ferocious, as this side picture taken from a Greek vase shows. In Greek mythology, the harpies were originally just young beautiful women with wings.

Just who was Frederick II the king Pier de Vigne served so faithfully for 28 Years?

Read his biography from this link,_Holy_Roman_Emperor

Dante Detective: Pier de la Vigne and the Sweet-Faced ladies

Discover the sadness of Pier de la Vigne, his life of service as a statesman, and the gossip in the court that lead to his despair. Meet the squanderers and how they were affected by the vitriolic atmosphere of Florentine politics in Dante’s time.

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