Letters Set To Music – A Blog


Sincerely yours image



March 29, 2016

Am I Blue?


The winner of our song competition, Isabella Nicole Ness, set a beautiful letter of Vincent Van Gogh, written to his brother Theo.

Theo adored his older brother. He believed in him, supported him financially, and unfailingly encouraged him. Theo understood Vincent.

Any who have stood before a Van Gogh painting with a pounding heart and glistening eyes may understand a tiny bit of what Theo felt about his odd brother; Vincent, who lived in his solitary world of color and paint.

Van Gogh’s most intense artistic output dates from the last few years of his life, and coincides with the increase of his mental illness. In 1888, he traveled to Saintes-Maries to paint, and wrote to Theo about the colors of the Mediterranean. It is this letter that Ness set to music.

My dear Theo,

I’m writing to you from Saintes-Maries on the Mediterranean at last —the Mediterranean — has a colour like mackerel, in other words, changing — you don’t
always know if it’s green or purple — you don’t always know if it’s blue — because a
second later, its changing reflection has taken on a pink or grey hue…

Reading this amazing letter feels like looking through Vincent’s sensitive, searching eyes.

van gogh the sea

The sky, a deep blue, was flecked with clouds of a deeper blue than primary blue, intense cobalt, and with others that were a lighter blue — like the blue whiteness of milky ways. Against the blue background stars twinkled, bright, greenish, white, light pink… the shore a sort of violet and faint russet as I saw it, and on the dunes some bushes Prussian blue.

Theo did everything he could to sustain his beloved older brother, Vincent, but in fact, neither of them would be very long for the world. Vincent died of a self inflicted gunshot wound at age 37, and Theo passed six months later. Among his other illnesses, the death report listed “sadness” as one of the causes.

RIP good Theo.

Join us for the whole story, and more letters set to music.

Sincerely Yours, Suzanne

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