It was with a joyful mind that I sat down on Saturday night and began reading my program. The weather was warm, tantalizing, and full of promise, and as always happens in early spring, my spirits were on the rise. March, as a rule, fills me with longing, as if, just as the air seems to be revitalized and rejuvenated, my mind and soul are being cleared of the oppressive thoughts that winter brings. So it was no surprise to me that I found the music even more colorful and vivid than usual, as if it, too, held a promise and taste of spring.
Thanks to a helpful comment on my last blog, I was able to look at
the program without my usual questions (indeed, I felt quite
knowledgeable when my eyes lit on the section that said ‘and strings’).
Ms. Fischer’s dress was just a pretty as Chee-Yun’s; in fact, I greatly
enjoyed watching Ms. Fisher during the length of Beethoven’s ‘Concerto
in D major.’ She moved her body with the music, following its highs and
lows, and even turned frequently to look at Mr. Cardenes and the other
musicians. Her body language lent expression to the music: when it was
soft she moved delicately, and when it was forceful she moved with all
the passion she could muster.
Beethoven’s music itself left me breathless, and as usual I couldn’t
relate in the least bit to poor Ludwig’s critics. The ‘endless
repetitions’ seemed neither endless (indeed, I wished for more), nor
repetitive. And the solo violin part, played so skillfully by Ms.
Fischer, was rich with emotion and beauty. The audience liked it so
much that they would not stop applauding until Ms. Fischer graced us
with an encore: some beautiful Bach.
I can understand how Brahms would be wary of writing a symphony, living
in the shadow of composers such as Beethoven. I understand, also, his
words: ‘Composing a symphony is no laughing matter.’ In fact, I can
relate to him quite a bit; his uncertainty about writing a symphony is
similar to my own uncertainty about writing my first novel. I can feel
that it is in me, and I know that someday it will come out, and I have
made beginnings, but on the whole I am waiting until the right time. I
am waiting for a time when I can research it and devote to it the
passion it demands, and I am content to wait until my skills have been
honed and improved enough for me to create something I will think
worthy. That must have been a little bit like what Brahms was feeling.
He made starts, wrote short pieces, and bided his time in composing a
I, for one, am glad he took his time. The symphony was lush and
meaningful—and I think he reached his goal of balancing the heart and
the mind. There were passages which were calculated and sure, and then
there were bursts of emotion, such as the lovely flute part towards the
end. As all great works of art—musical, literary, and so on—his
symphony was balanced with passion and skill. ‘Beethoven’s Tenth?’ No
way. ‘Brahms’s First,’ thank you very much. And don’t forget it.