Norman Lebrecht on shifting sound worlds
Many readers were delighted to see Charles discoursing in perfect French. He’s almost as fluent in Italian, on this video that we’ve been sent. ill there ever be another like him?
Lui e’ simpaticissimo, sia che sia la lingua che sta parlando.
I am a big fan of Mr Rosen’s books and of some of his recordings. May he rest in peace.
Slightly off topic though, only English-speaking earthlings (US and UK natives) consider fluency in a couple of languages to be a major feat. A fair percent of the planet inhabitants speak two or three languages readily.
1. If the question is about polyglot international musicians, Barenboim and Maazel instantly come to my mind.
2. What’s the big deal about being fluent in two foreign languages? That may be uncommon among ordinary Americans or Brits. Not so in the scholarly community or in some countries like the Netherlands.
I am not sure whether you understand how fluent he is in Italian. That is not common among the scholarly community or in countries like the Netherlands. Most Europeans being multilingual is a myth: most can mumble some english, but that is it.
I agree that most Europeans are not multilingual. It varies from country to country.
My impression about Rosen’s spoken French and Italian from the clips is that he was not just fluent, but highly articulate and eloquent in both. But French and Italian are closely related and Rosen had a PhD in French Literature. To me it is not that surprising that he could carry over his exceptional verbal ability in those languages. Humanist scholars are often very fluent in languages that are closely related to their fields. Rosen being a polymath, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were just as fluent in German. My point is that Rosen may have been truly exceptional in many ways, but not in being a polyglot.
Author, novelist, broadcaster, cultural commentator.
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