UPON THE ORANGE MOON

The Lunar Musical of Viviana Spokoininich

Viviana Spokoininich was a nineteenth century Russian composer whose war-torn life brought her to America. She found work as a maid and, from the high windows of her servant's quarters, spent her nights steeped in a...

Read the full account »

The Lunar Musical of Viviana Spokoininich

Viviana Spokoininich was a gifted nineteenth century Russian composer whose war-torn life brought her to America where she found work as a maid. From the high windows of her servant’s quarters she spent nights steeped in a sense of longing… for the Moon.

Engaging in a diligent study of lunar cycles and stellar positions, she quickly fashioned a groundbreaking new method for musical composition. The belt of Orion, for example, being three equidistant stars of similar brightness would indicate to her the chord of G. This undertaking culminated in a musical to be performed on the Moon. In her diary she writes:

So that our inevitable future entrance into her atmosphere may be accompanied not with man’s clumsy, territorial violence but with song… since I know music and art to be the true opposite of war, I shall write a musical story to be performed on the future date of our arrival… Upon the Orange Moon.

As the musical progresses the characters discover, each in their own time, that “words no longer have meaning on the Moon” and so while a narrative is evident in each act, all the lyrics eventually consist of only the airy arias “La-la-la” and “Loo-loo-loo”.

Spokoininich seemed to suggest that the meaning or weight of matter, the gravitational pull between two objects, is greatly diminished on the Moon– her musical intuition proved remarkably consistent with later scientific findings.

Scattered and nearly lost, her works were recently recovered by the Society for Nebulous Knowledge through a happenstance meeting with Professor T. Middling, the renowned musicologist and archivist of lost chapters in musical history. Together they gathered manuscripts, artifacts and diaries and produced excerpts from the musical.

Plans are under way for a full staging of Upon the Orange Moon at its intended site. Negotiations with NASA have begun.

  • The Artifacts of Viviana Spokoininichk, from the Historical Archives

  • Sunday Dress, Viviana Spokoininich, from the Historical Archives

  • The Bedroom of Viviana Spokoininich, from the Historical Archives

  • Viviana Spokoininich Bedroom, detail, from the Historical Archives

  • A selection from the Permanent Collection of the Viviana Spokoininich Archives
    was displayed at the Portland Art Museum in 2006

  • The Music Room, from the Historical Archives

  • Music Room, where she first performed "Upon the Orange Moon" from the Historical Archives

  • "Arrival" by Viviana Spokoininich, original manuscript, from the Historical Archives

« H. McShougle society_for_nebulous_knowledge_logo_xsmall V. Fielder »