27 July 2016

Isle of the Dead ("Die Toteninsel")

Arnold Böcklin is best known for his five versions (painted in 1880-1886) of the Isle of the Dead, which partly evokes the English Cemetery, Florence, close to his studio and where his baby daughter Maria had been buried.


  1. The paintings have inspired many, including Sergei Rachmaninoff, who wrote a wonderfully melancholic symphonic poem, “Isle of the Dead”, op. 29, in 1909. As in many of his other works, it incorporates the 13th century Dies Irae theme. Interestingly, Rachmaninoff based his piece on seeing the monochrome version of Böcklin's five paintings, and indicated that if he'd seen the color version first, he probably wouldn't have written his piece. “I like it in black and white,” he said.

    David Crews, On-air host at Classical KMFA, Austin, Tx.


  2. I was going to mention the Rachmaninoff too - I went straight to iTunes and fired it up as soon as I saw this post. Thank you David for the information about the monochrome version, which I hadn't read before.


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