Red and Black

The Les Misérables film is being shown on UK TV for the first time tonight so I thought I’d play something from the show. I played a number of songs from Les Mis in 2010, some of which are on my Curtain Up collection, and earlier this year I played the new song from the film, Suddenly.

Red and Black is an interesting song. The student revolutionaries have formed themselves into an organisation called “La Société des Amis de l’ABC” and the café where they meet is referred to as the ABC Café (although in the original book it’s called the Café Musain). When said in French the letters ABC sound something like “ah-bay-say” which is a play on the word abaissé, meaning oppressed, so the students are “the friends of the oppressed”.

The students are meeting to plan the June Rebellion and their meeting is interrupted by the arrival of Marius who ruins the serious atmosphere with his tales of his newfound love, Cosette. For Marius red represents “his soul on fire” and “the colour of desire”, and black is “my world when she’s not there” and “the colour of despair”. For the rest of the students red is “the blood of angry men” and “a world about to dawn”, while black is “the dark of ages past” and “the night that ends at last”.

I hope you enjoy my performance of this song. To hear more August songs, click here. If it’s your first time on the site, find out more about why I’m trying to record a piano tune every day here.