Tuesday, April 19, 2016


My Greek composer friend Michalis Embeoglou has made a joking comparison of La Cathédrale engloutie (The Submerged Cathedral) -- Debussy's prelude for solo piano -- to an actual underwater church in the Mexican State of Chiapas. Drought gradually revealed the church, which had been underwater since the construction of a dam in 1966.

According to Wikipedia "[Debussy's] piece is based on an ancient Breton myth in which a cathedral, submerged underwater off the coast of the Island of Ys, rises up from the sea on clear mornings when the water is transparent. Sounds can be heard of priests chanting, bells chiming, and the organ playing, from across the sea."

The church was built in 1564; expections were that this area of Chiapas would experience a rise in population. “It was a church built thinking that this could be a great population center, but it never achieved that,” architect Carlos Navarretes told the Associated Press. “It probably never even had a dedicated priest, only receiving visits from those from Tecpatan.”

After a devastating plague from 1773 to 1776, the church was abandoned. Today, however, sightseers take boat rides to see it and some even mount the glorious structure.

Claude Debussy at the keyboard. Salon de Ernest Chausson, 1893.

"The Submerged Cathedral" or "The Sunken Cathedral" by Claude Debussy. Played by François-Joël Thiollier:

No comments :

Post a Comment