Manhattan Composers Collective

Regrets of a Bon Vivant


Composed by Fernando Arruda.

Special thanks to Daniel Flam!

Regrets of a Bon Vivant is loosely based on Allan Kardec’s short story of the same name, published in his 4th book Heaven and Hell (1865). Written in the first person, it tells of the regrets of a wealthy young man just after he realizes that his death has only killed his body - not his consciousness. From the spirit’s realm he communicates with a medium about the “after death”. 

The introduction of this piece explores the moment of the Bon Vivant’s death and represents the detachment of his spirit from his body by the haunting motif in fifths, traveling from the lowest instrument in the ensemble to the highest. It metaphorically signifies the abrupt dislocation of his consciousness from his dense body to his less dense astral form as a spirit. The waltz, the main theme of this piece, starts as the non-diegetic soundtrack of his first “tour” on the spirits realm, where he discovers joy and beauty beyond imaginable. The experience of bliss does not last long as he realizes he has spent all his time on earth seeking temporal and futile pleasures while others have been humiliated by lack of shelter and starvation. 

Rehearsal letter “D” represents his epiphany: one must commit to help others because as long as a single spirit is suffering, absolute peace will not be attainable for anybody. The recapitulation of the theme in the major key of “E” represents the hero exploring the spiritual realm changed by his epiphany. At “F”, just like the intro, he realizes a new mode of existence is coming his way. He feels the need to reincarnate. The fugue on “G” onwards outlines his journey back to another earthly body. Being born as his sister’s baby, he is now committed to use his family resources to help others. 

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