A prolific draughtsman, Roseman employs a variety of drawing materials with great versatility. Here, the artist drew the portrait of Birgit Nilsson with brush, bistre ink, and wash. Roseman delineates with the tip of his brush the dramatic soprano's distinctive, facial features; calligraphic brushstrokes render her flowing, brown hair. The immediacy of expression in the drawing goes beyond the theatrical personage on stage to reveal the individual.
MUSIC has been an important part of Roseman's work from the outset of his career in New York in the early 1970's. In his youth, Roseman enjoyed a close relationship with his father, who greatly encouraged his young son's natural talents in art and desire to become an artist. Bernard Roseman, an avid opera-, theater-, and concert-goer took his son to the opera; theatre, including Broadway musicals; and ballet and modern dance, as well as to concerts - exciting worlds that were to inspire the artist in the creation of his paintings and drawings.
Invited to draw Horowitz for that eventful 50th anniversary, Roseman created a suite of superb drawings that vividly capture the renowned virtuoso playing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3. The drawing presented at the top of the page and below, (fig. 2), depicts with swift, sure strokes of the pencil what Time describes as Horowitz's "lightning-fast chord sequences,'' and "cascades of notes.'' Roseman recounts in his journal:
"For the final orchestra rehearsal on January 6th, the front section of the auditorium had been roped off with only the back of the auditorium available for administration, dignitaries, and guests. I had attended concerts at Carnegie Hall since my youth when I was taken there by my father and was familiar with that famous concert hall filled to capacity with concert-goers. Thus I felt honored to be ushered down front, close to the stage, from where I could best see Horowitz at the keyboard and, in the darkened auditorium, have sufficient light coming from the stage by which to draw.''
Roseman's portraits of prominent personalities in the field of music include the eminent Pulitzer Prize winning American composer Virgil Thomson, who sat for the artist at the composer's apartment in the landmark Chelsea Hotel in New York City in 1972. Thomson requested that the portrait be exhibited at Carnegie Hall on the occasion of his eightieth birthday and the New York premiere on December 26, 1976 of his Symphony No. 3, performed by the American Symphony Orchestra, whose press release praises the portrait as "a magnificent painting of the composer." The portrait of Virgil Thomson is featured on the website page "Biography," Page 7 - "Portraits," along with excerpts from the artist's journal in which he recounts painting the composer's portrait.
The prestigious Royal Academy of Music, Stockholm, founded in 1771, conserves Roseman's "fine portrait of Birgit Nilsson,'' revered as the greatest Wagnerian soprano of her time. Roseman began an extensive work on the performing arts in 1972 with a gracious invitation from Francis Robinson, the Assistant General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, New York City.
The portrait Birgit Nilsson was included in the American bicentennial exhibition Stanley Roseman - The Performing Arts in America, which comprised the artist's work from opera, theatre, dance, and the circus. The exhibition, produced by Ronald Davis, toured the United States from December 1975 through 1976 and concluded at the Library and Museum for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, winter-spring 1977. Following the exhibition, the Nilsson portrait entered the collection of the Royal Academy of Music.
"Among the important monastic contributions made in the field of music is the invention of staff notation by the eleventh-century Benedictine monk Guido of Arezzo, music theorist and author of Micrologus de disciplina artis musicae, a treatise on early polyphony. Guido's system of solmization for a hexachord used the syllables ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, the opening syllables in rising order of the first six lines of the Vespers hymn Ut queant laxis. This notation was later adapted to the octave with the addition of the syllable ti and the replacement of ut by do for what is the standard musical scale in use today.''
1. Igor Stravinsky, An Autobiography, (London: Calder & Boyars, 1975), pp. 26, 96, 98.
2. Stanley Roseman, Stanley Roseman and the Dance - Drawings from the Paris Opéra, (Paris: Ronald Davis, 1996), p. 16.
3. Stanley Roseman - Dessins sur la Danse à l'Opéra de Paris (text French and English), (Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1996), p. 11.
4. Yehudi Menuhin, Unfinished Journey, (London: Futura Publications Ltd., 1978), p. 222.
5. The Oxford scholar and Benedictine monk Dom Bernard Green read a draft of Roseman's manuscript and wrote in a cordial letter to the artist:
"You portray the background and the aims of life in monasteries so well, showing such a deep understanding of the monastic life.''
6. New Oxford History of Music - Early Medieval Music up to 1300, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 279, 291.
7. Ibid., p. 101.
The French clown Christophe in the painting Reverie - Christophe Playing the Accordion, 1995, (fig. 8), was one of the talented clowns whom Roseman drew at the Ranelagh Theatre's production of Sur la route de Sienne, a fanciful, pantomimic adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet with the music of Prokofiev and Nino Rota.
Music is a stimulating force for the dancer and was so for Roseman drawing dancers in Romantic and classical ballets and a comprehensive range of modern dance. During the 1970's in New York City, Roseman was cordially invited to draw at the American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Belgium's Béjart Ballet of the XXth Century, National Ballet of Canada, and Britain's Royal Ballet. In 1989, with a prestigious invitation from the Paris Opéra, Roseman took up his paper and pencils again to create an extensive oeuvre on the dance.
The music to which Roseman drew the dance spans the centuries - from Henry Purcell's suite Abdelazer, 1695, and utilized by José Limón for his modern dance The Moor's Pavanne, based on Shakespeare's Othello, (See "Biography,'' Page 2 - ''World of Shakespeare.''), to Thom Willems' score with synthesizer and percussion for William Forsythe's non-narrative In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, choreographed in 1987 for the dancers of the Paris Opéra Ballet, and seen here with the drawing of star dancer Wilfried Romoli, (fig. 6).
A selection of Roseman's drawings on the dance is also presented on "Biography,'' Page 3 - "The Performing Arts in America Exhibition'' and Page 6 - "Drawings from the Paris Opéra.'' To cite here: From the Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna, is the drawing of Mikhail Baryshnikov as Duke Albrecht in the American Ballet Theatre's 1975 production of the great Romantic ballet Giselle, whose memorable score by the French composer Adolphe Adam was innovative in the use of leitmotif to establish musical character identity in ballet. At the Paris Opéra, Bach's Magnificat was utilized by John Neumeier for his ballet by the same name, represented by the drawing in the Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasbourg, of Nicolas Le Riche taking a thrilling leap. Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring is represented by the drawing in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France of Marie-Claude Pietragalla as the sacrificial maiden in the climax of that iconic work of modern dance.
At the Benedictine Abbey of Tyniec, in Poland, Roseman drew the present work Brother Florian playing the Recorder, 1978, (fig. 11). In this beautiful drawing, strong, rhythmic strokes of black chalk describing the black habit form a bold abstraction in contrast to the detailed rendering of the monk's face, dark hair and beard, and the monk's hands fingering notes on the recorder. (See "The Monastic Life," Page 4 - "Across the Continent to Austria, Hungary, and Poland.")
From Santo Domingo de Silos, in Castile, a Benedictine abbey known for the study and preservation of Gregorian chant, is the compelling portrait Fray Javier singing the Psalms, (fig. 12). Gregorian chant, associated with singing the Psalms, developed mainly in the monasteries, with the golden age of composition dating from the fifth to eighth centuries.
On Christmas Eve 1996, Roseman drew from the wings of the stage Elisabeth Maurin in her acclaimed role as the dreamy, young Clara in The Nutcracker, the story of which takes place on Christmas Eve - albeit in the previous century. Elisabeth Maurin was promoted to the rank of étoile, or star dancer, in 1988 by Rudolf Nureyev in his tenure as Director of the Dance at the Paris Opéra.
The Uffizi, Florence, conserves the drawing Elisabeth Maurin presented here, (fig. 7). In this sublime drawing, Roseman expresses with an economy of fluent, nuanced, pencil lines the youthfulness and innocence of Tchaikovsky's charming heroine and the grace and virtuosity of the celebrated star dancer.
Roseman was grateful to have the opportunity in 1993 to draw Caballé on the occasion of her sixtieth birthday and her recital at the Paris Opéra. Caballé sang arias by Handel, Gounod, and Rossini; by Spanish composers Chapí, Granados, Turina, and encores with arias by Verdi and Puccini. In the splendid drawing presented here, (fig. 9), Roseman's purity of fluent, nuanced lines express in pictorial terms the mellifluous voice of the great lyric soprano.
Acquiring four drawings on the dance, including the present sheet, for the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Lille, Barbara Brejon de Lavergnée, eminent Curator of the Museum's renowned collection of master drawings, praises Roseman's work as "superb'' and further writes in letter: "I love the drawings of the dancers, which have an astonishing spontaneity of action and refinement.''