Deco and the Astronomer Fish Man



A couple of very dissimilar cover designs for Hector Berlioz’s crowd fave, Symphonie Fantastique. The first is a 1951 Art Deco (nearly Soviet realist) depiction of the composer’s dark epic about art and love and witches, with panels showing the scenes from the 5-movement work, by Frank Decker.

Alongside its straightforward tableaus, Don Ivan’s 1972 trippy cover art for Columbia is bonkers, like some poster to an earlier version of The Shape of Water. In it, a fish-like gent, standing in giant glove, peers through a telescope whose outer lens is another glove proffering a top-hat. There’s a few more gloves in the scenery, a fish, a place-setting and sunflowers.

The performances, from Pierre Monteux and the San Fran Orchestra and Ozawa conducting The Toronto Symphony, are kind of beside the point. As well as being about as different as two sleeves can be while containing the same composition, they’re a peep into the changing tastes of classical music, and how utterly different it was marketed and portrayed in the 1950s and 1970s, respectively.

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