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“Rousseau did not become a better person.”

December 28, 2012

When Rousseau traveled alone to Lausanne (after abandoning his friend in the road), he would tell the townspeople that his name was ‘Venture of Lausanne.’ He decided to, as he put it, ‘Venturize myself.’ He switched the name up a bit, making an anagram of his own: He became Vaussore de Villeneuve, a famous composer from Paris. And, for some reason, everyone in the town believed his lie.

A man named Monsieur de Treytorrens invited Rousseau to compose a piece and have it performed at his home by a local ensemble. Rousseau spent two weeks writing the music―stealing a melody he had learned from Venture―and one night the ensemble convened for the concert. Acting as the conductor, Rousseau signaled for the music to begin. ‘Never since the first days of French opera, never in all the world, has such a cacophony been heard,’ Rousseau wrote of the performance. It was awful. Everyone laughed. ‘It was beyond endurance!’ said one audience member. ‘What insane music!’ exclaimed another.

Read More | “Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Greatest Con” | Elliott Sharp | Full Stop