Those of you who, assuming that you had heard of them at all, had thought that the grand Salons Musicales of fin de siécle Paris – such as that of the Princesse de Polignac or the Countess Greffuhle – were a thing of the past, would be just so wrong. They are alive and kicking – and I was invited to one last week…
This was the Salon of Madame Madeleine and was hosted by violinist Madeleine Mitchell. (Her wonderful playing of Messaien’s Louange a l’immortalité de Jesus Christ with pianist Joanna MacGregor at our celebration for James last month brought even more tears to everyone’s eyes than were already there. This picture courtesy of Rama Knight.)
But no tears at Madame Madeleine’s salon – unless they were tears of laughter at William Godfree’s rendition of Jake Thackeray‘s Sister Josephine. Instead a wonderful hour of music – an oboe quartet, some piano, some songs, some solo violin – played by Madame Madeleine and her friends before a small invited audience. Followed by wine, supper and lively conversation. What a delightful way to spend an evening.
So what has allergy to do with Madame Madeleine’s salon?
Well, only that during the supper after the performances I had four relatively lengthy conversation with other guests – not about the music, but about allergy. Of those four families, one had a coeliac daughter, another’s daughter had a peanut allergy, and the third couple had an adult son who was nut allergic and now had a grandson who was peanut and sesame allergic. And that was in a gathering that had absolutely nothing to do with food, allergy, auto immune conditions or anything that might have predisposed them to be food sensitive.
So much for those who maintain that the ‘so called’ allergy epidemic is just down to better diagnosis and ‘fashion’….