Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Weeping of the Violins

I save things. I save playbills, airline tickets, museum plans, subway tokens, every letter I've ever received, childhood journals... I save things. Usually these saved items end up as a scurf patterning the floor of my room. However, this can sometimes be a good thing. A couple of days ago, I reclaimed a program from the general melee that I had saved from my trip to Europe in the spring. I remembered exactly why I had saved it: for one thing, it had been a glorious evening of music by a chamber quartet that we had watched in the Sala Terrena, a room in a house where Mozart had once played. Mozart, the darling of Austria, was of course the main composer presented, but the second piece, the Lento portion of Dvorak's "American Quartet" had stunned me into one of those rare moments of true sublimity. I remember being so struck--and so moved--by the experience of being transfixed in that tiny room, hearing the breaths of the performers, and seeing their faces as they leaned into this music, this feeling stretched out to us from more than a hundred years ago. Once, all culture had been like this--something experienced living, and not to be reproduced or lived in the same way again. So, now I own a copy of this beautiful music, and I hope you will enjoy it, too (Click Here!). I'm also including a little scrap I wrote in the past year about classical music. It's more of a tiny sketch, but just rediscovered it and it reminded me of this experience.

Piano Music for the Stormy-Hearted

The grand, and the crescendoed. The fingers, bone-white and ivory. The hearts of deep metal and the eyes of flashing summer and the faces of gods. Oh, the chest cavity and orchestra; the deep tuba of the last act, the violin on the night path. The cymbal crash when love is sighted. The weeping of the clarinets.

Live with no note too somber, no trill frivolous. And my God, play the keys off it. Wear the pedals thin.

(photo of the ceiling inside the Sala Terrena in Vienna)

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