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The following year comes Hoffnung's Musical Chairs, dedicated to his close friend, Malcolm Arnold. This volume is a delight for animal lovers and opens with a brilliant drawing of an elephant appearing as part of a gramophone. His trunk is the tone-arm bearing the stylus and the creature has one ear enlarged to become the horn. By the use of only three short lines for an eye, Hoffnung bestows a look of benign happiness on the elephant's face. Other drawings put elephants' trunks to a variety of uses such as a French horn, a tuba, a trumpet, an alpenhorn and a cobra for a snake charming elephant. This is the volume that includes perhaps Hoffnung's best known and loved drawing, that of the smiling cat playing his stave-like whiskers with a violin bow held with his tail. An ocarina is shown as a bird having just laid an egg, little whistles also become birds in trees, a violin case is a spouting whale, tambourines are transformed into jelly fish with trailing tentacles and a bagpipe becomes an octopus. This little book ends with a postlude; nine sketches depicting the erection of a music stand on a concert platform. After a series of skirmishes the performer emerges victorious, his formal dress awry, bearing a black eye, a large lump on his head and a bloody finger and thumb, none of which discourage him from bowing formally and vigorously to an appreciative audience.
In the publication of Hoffnung's Acoustics, last and
final book of the series, the drawings reach their zenith when Hoffnung explores
the world of musical sound and presents an array of fantastic noises on paper.
A critic of the day wrote in The Times that he felt Hoffnung was on
the verge of pure musical draughtsmanship and a completely uncharted artistic
territory. In a section headed Noises, we are confronted by a cacophony
of sounds; a demure four-note chord and a strident discord sit side by side
on their pages; a nimble, Klee-ish Pizzicato trips gaily across another
page on the toes of its multitudinous pointed feet, all the while plucking
hairs of different musical notation from its head and scattering them around.
A Ping, a Hum, a ravishing Arpeggio and a jagged
Staccato; each cartoon makes its point with exactly perceived precision.
A bursting Crescendo thrusts loudly from its page, followed by a withdrawn
and barely audible, Diminuendo. One really hears the dull thump of
a bass drum as the strange creature called A Thud hits the ground
with a wallop. An Oompah is, of course, a tuba having a good blow
in an alpine meadow and A Rest is the Hoffnung tuba, slippers off,
lying on its side asleep, with its ear-like bell listening out for the alarm
In the late fifties Hoffnung brought out a larger sized book of non-musical cartoons entitled Ho Ho Hoffnung and an illustrated children's book named The Isle of Cats, written by John Symonds. Hoffnung was passionately fond of cats.
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