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The concert overture and the symphony are both among Mendelssohn’s most vivid and energetic creations, from the exuberant and menacing surges against the Scottish cliffs, to the Italian sing-song melodies superseding each other in what is perhaps his most played symphony. This celebration of nature is followed by two depictions of the nightingale: Alban Berg’s Die Nachtigall of Seven Early Songs, and Andrea Tarrodi’s orchestral piece The Nightingale from 2009, inspired by H C Andersen’s exotic tale about a real nightingale and an artificial one.
Furthermore, there were results from an examination of what would turn out to be a later version of the tale, in which the nightingale is replaced by a mechanical one that can sing on command. The bird then flies to the forest, leaving the emperor of China who would rather be entertained by the colourful metal bird. In this way, he can impress the court with its tricks and agility. The years pass. The emperor becomes frail and sick, and his doctor suspects that the end is near. He remembers the live nightingale that brought comfort and joy, which the emperor now misses. He orders the bird to be fetched back, and somehow, his servants manage to find the missing bird. But why would it want to return to captivity with the emperor? A inferior and oppressed little bird that voluntarily submits, and lets itself be tortured in the grand imperial get-up?
Furthermore, it may, over the course of the journey, become a question of further merits, as most people wouldn’t consider themselves able to maintain such an unsatisfying mechanical apparatus, a model made of pressed tin, painted, endowed with feathers and a key.
This toy would, in H C Andersen’s time, probably have been made by German toymaker Schuco, that mostly made model cars, often very similar to the originals. It has been shown, for instance, that the German model was particularly popular in the Odense area. The secret seems to have been an extra long and strong Krupp spring that was particularly well suited for the Danish gravel roads.
This was actually manufactured according to Swedish principles on the double cone metal roller which, with its ingenious expander system, can create the exact elliptic shape (thicker in the middle, thinner on the sides), giving the spring ultimate power transfer in a lightly oscillating movement which transfers energy with less friction and greater efficiency.