Symphonic Chocolates: A Soundtrack for Valentine's Day

Marina McLerran

Editor, McLerran Journal

Assistant Band Director, Center ISD, TX

 

 

A Brief History of Valentine’s Day

According to Arnie Siepel of the National Public Radio (NPR), Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love that can be traced all the way back to the ancient Romans. In the third century (A.D.), Emperor Cludius II executed two different men named Valentine; the more famous of the two was charged with performing outlawed marriage rites in secret (Siepel). Each was in turn martyred by the Catholic Church; a decision that was marked with the formation of St. Valentine’s Day in February (Siepel). Two centuries later, Pope Gelasius I, in an attempt to squash the pagan celebration of fertility (Lupercalia), combined the traditional festivities with the observance of St. Valentine’s Day (Siepel).

Thanks to the works of Chaucer and Shakespeare in the Middle Ages, the February holiday was romanticized as a day for lovers; this is also the time period when handmade love notes became a popular sign of affection (Siepel). In the 1840’s, a successful chocolatier, Richard Cadbury, developed the first series of heart-shaped boxes of candy that remain a Valentine’s Day staple (Butler). In 1913, the tradition of Valentine’s Day love notes made their way to the Americas and began to be mass-produced by a company called Hallmark Cards of Kansas (Siepel). According to a 2017 study done by USA Today, modern Americans spend close to $18 million on Valentine’s Day festivities annually (Ngabirano).

Symphonic Chocolates

Symphonic Chocolates (2012) by Maxime Goulet, was commissioned by the National Academy Orchestra of Canada to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Brott Music Festival. The piece is a “soundtrack for chocolate tasting” and is frequently performed on Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day (Goulet). The four-movement work evokes four distinct flavors; caramel, dark chocolate, mint, and coffee. Movement one, Caramel Chocolate, is characterized by luxurious melodic lines in the strings and “a rich and enveloping sonority” (Goulet). Fluttering figures in the upper woodwinds simulate gentle nerves or excitement for what is to come. Dark Chocolate, the second movement, opens with a seductive melody in the violins and aggressive staccato eighth notes in the cellos and basses. Goulet describes this portion of the work as “an intense habanera of desire […] with a dissonant bitterness.” The third movement, Mint Chocolate, begins with a flute solo over sustained tremolo in the strings. With a significantly reduced tempo and “icy cold sonorities,” Goulet embodies the more tender side of romance (Goulet). The work comes to an exciting end with Coffee-Infused Chocolate, a Brazilian-inspired movement that takes “an espresso tempo” and oozes passion (Goulet). Since its composition only six years ago, this work has gained enormous popularity and been performed over sixty times in seven different countries.

Maxime Goulet (b.1980), from Montreal, is a world-renown composer of both classical music and video game soundtracks. Goulet holds a Master’s degree in composition from the University of Montreal and currently is a professor at the University of Sherbrooke in Québec (Goulet). He has had the opportunity to participate in the Canadian Contemporary Music Workshop, the Festival International du Film d’Aubagne in France, the Orchestration for Film Workshop in New York, and in the 2009 ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop in Los Angeles (Goulet). His works have been performed by prestigious ensembles including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Houston Symphony Orchestra (Goulet). Goulet is also the founder of The Montreal Video Game Symphony, “a multi-media event that combines the power of the symphony […] and interactive world of gaming” (Goulet). His compositions for video games have been well-received and earned him multiple nominations for “Best Original Music” at the Canadian Video Game Awards.

 

Follow Maxime Goulet Here

Purchase Symphonic Chocolates Here

 

 

 

 

Sources

“Symphonic Chocolates: Orchestral Sweets in Four Flavors.” Goulet, Maxime. Maxime Goulet

          Official Website. N.p. 2017. Web. 1 January, 2018. <http://maximegoulet.com/symphonic-

          chocolates/>

 

“Maxims Goulet.” Goulet, Maxime. Maxime Goulet Official Website. N.p. 2017. Web. January 1,

          2018. <http://maximegoulet.com/biography/>

 

“The Dark Origins of Valentine’s Day.” Seipel, Arnie. NPR. National Public Radio. 13. February,

          2011. Web. 1 January, 2018. <https://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-

          of-valentines-day>  

 

“Celebrating Valentine’s Day With a Box of Chocolates.” Butler, Stephanie. History. A&E

          Television Networks, LLC. 8 February, 2013. Web. 1 January, 2018.

          <http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/celebrating-valentines-day-with-a-box-of-

          chocolates>