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Ghost Variations by Jessica Duchen

Monday 21 March 2016, 7pm
Hungarian Cultural Centre
10 Maiden Lane, London WC2E 7NA


Ghost Variations
The story of the great Hungarian violinist Jelly d'Arányi
World premiere presentation by
Jessica Duchen (author/narrator), David Le Page (violin) and Viv McLean (piano)

The Hungarian Cultural Centre is delighted to welcome back author Jessica Duchen and the highly acclaimed musicians David Le Page and Viv McLean for the world premiere presentation of Ghost Variations Jessica Duchen's new novel. Inspired by a true incident, Ghost Variations tells possibly the strangest detective story in the history of music.

Jelly D'AranyiLondon, 1933. The great Hungarian violinist Jelly d'Arányi, an inspiration to numerous composers, faces a startling dilemma. She begins to receive "messages" via an Ouija board ostensibly from the spirit of Robert Schumann, asking her to unearth and perform his long-suppressed violin concerto. The work turns out to have been Schumann's last full-length composition before his nervous breakdown and subsequent death in a mental hospital; his family had embargoed it for fear that it betrayed his declining state of mind.

But Jelly's quest to rediscover it is soon complicated when the Nazi administration in Germany hear rumours of the work and aim to conscript it for their own purposes; and when news of the "spirit messages" breaks, it rebounds with ferocity against the unfortunate violinist. With the world on the brink of war, Schumann having written his concerto at the tipping point towards madness and Jelly facing a decline in the career to which she has devoted her whole life, saving the concerto comes to mean saving herself.

Jessica's novel has been taken up by the publisher Unbound and receives its first public presentation at this event. The author introduces the book and reads extracts illustrating the story, with David Le Page and Viv McLean performing works that Jelly d'Arányi often played: among them Ravel's Tzigane, which was written for her, the music of her friend Bartók, and, of course, part of the Schumann Violin Concerto.

Jessica DuchenJessica Duchen is an acclaimed author and music journalist. She writes on classical music, opera and ballet for The Independent and her novels include Hungarian Dances, a musical saga stretching the length of the 20th century. She has also written biographies of the composers Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Gabriel Fauré, as well as several plays and narrated concerts. Her new novel Ghost Variations, based on an episode in the life of the great Hungarian violinist Jelly d'Arányi, has been taken on by the crowd-funding publisher Unbound and, subject to sufficient funding, will be available later in 2016.

David LePageDavid LePage (violin) was a prizewinner in BBC Young Musician of the Year and the Yehudi Menuhin Competition. In 1999 he was appointed leader of the Orchestra of the Swan, with which he regularly appears as soloist and director. David is president of the European String Teachers Association. He has recently released a CD of his own music, The Reinvention of Harmony and Imagination. 'Scintillating...Le Page cast a sinuously flexible spell'. Birmingham Post

Viv McLeanViv McLean (piano), winner of the First Prize at the 2002 Maria Canals International Piano Competition in Barcelona, has performed at all the major concert halls in the UK and extensively around the world. He has recorded often for BBC Radio 3, numerous international radio stations and CD labels. 'Extraordinary originality, superb simplicity, and fingers of steel hidden behind muscles of velvet'. Le Monde, Paris

You can listen to some extracts of Jelly's playing Hubay: Poemes hongroises, Op.27 No.6 and Brahms: Hungarian Dance No.8.  

Free but booking is required. Please call 020 7240 8448 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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