Eleven years ago, a tree that grew on a site was the subject of an unfinished film. The film was made by Geoffrey Fallthuis, student pupil of Tulse Luper, and at 19, the shortest and youngest of the Luper admirers who supported the Luper programme for an unassisted naturally evolving landscape. The tree, a wych-elm, had been planted on the south bank of the Thames, when the area was the garden of a London broker who apparently specialised in the importing of timber for the manufacture of musical instruments. Due to a number of coincidences of date, name and geography, Geoffrey Fallthuis chose to structure the cutting copy of his film, at least, on Anton Webern's Five Pieces for Orchestra, a choice later cemented by the knowledge that another Schoenberg pupil, Hans Eisler, had composed a work to a tree, an oak that had survived the bombing of Berlin.
Three months after completing his modest film exercise, Geoffrey Fallthuis joined an ecological foundation, studied tree-culture and went to America. Seven years later, he married Corntopia Felixchange, a soprano who eventually joined the Metropolitan Opera Company.
Geoffrey Fallthuis was in Ontario at the time of the VUE, he was supervising the planting of conifers. The VUE gave him a bone-marrow disease, incipient patagium fellitis, and a neuralgia that Fallthuis was able to partly anaesthetise with nicotine and aspirin. Fallthuis, in acknowledgement of his VUE disabilities, took an administrative job which gave him time to travel with his wife on her singing tours of Europe. Eventually his wife was invited to London and sang at the Royal Festival Hall and Fallthuis visited the south bank of the Thames for the first time in eleven years.
One September evening at dusk, whilst his wife attended a rehearsal, Fallthuis stepped out of the concert hall to look again at the tree which had been the subject of his last film exercise. Much had changed. The buildings that Fallthuis had filmed in their stages of construction were now long completed. And the tree had gone. Heavily supported by chains at the time Fallthuis had filmed it, the tree had become a potential danger to pedestrians and had been cut down.
Fallthuis lit a cigar and walked along a new concrete balcony overlooking the River Thames to a position he could hardly have anticipated as a camera position ten years previously. While leaning on the balustrade, he fell. Or he was pushed. Or he jumped deliberately. One witness is on record as saying that at the time Fallthuis fell, there had been a pistol shot. Anton Webern had been shot. He too had been standing on a balcony. The lighted tip of Webern's cigar had made him a target after curfew for an overzealous American soldier in 1945. The connection was not lost on Fallthuis's wife. She demanded and got an inquiry. Eleven witnesses came forward, but in the end the evidence was so conflicting that the coroner passed a verdict of misadventure abetted by delayed effects of the VUE.
Corntopia Felixchange lobbied the IRR to provide funds to remake her late husband's film with a new musical structure that would reflect Webern's Five Pieces and provide her with a vocal part. The work was to be dedicated to all VUE victims. An early friend of Fallthuis's, Nye Galibo, who makes a fleeting appearance in the fifth part of the original film, generously agreed to compose the new music. As yet neither the IRR nor any other body have come up with the funds to make Corntopia's film and in extended deference to VUE victims the music has, in the meantime, been used to accompany some of the VUE biographies in The Falls.
The Falls Biographies
Constance Ortuist Fallaburr
Appis (Arris) Fallabus
Ipson & Pulat Fallari
Bird Raspara Fallicutt
Sallis Pino Fallpinio
Erhaus Bewler Falluper