Vincent naturally didn’t have a playlist with his favourite tunes – even the gramophone was only introduced commercially after his time. He would have had to make do with live music, and in his younger years, perhaps a family member playing an instrument.
A wider variety awaited Vincent in Paris: theatre, concerts, opera, ballet and dance – the city was home to every form of entertainment. He probably would have explored what the city had to offer together with Toulouse-Lautrec and other artists, but little is actually known about this part of his life. Only a couple of chalk drawings give us a clue, portraits of musicians performing.
Beethoven, Berlioz and Wagner are composers mentioned in Vincent’s letters. Van Gogh attended various Wagner concerts with his brother Theo, and was most impressed with his music.
‘...someone who can really play the violin or piano is, it seems to me, a mightily entertaining person. He picks up his violin and starts to play, and a whole gathering enjoys it all evening long. A painter has to be able to do that too.’
Vincent to his sister Willemien, from Arles, 16-20 June 1888.