Pittsburgh, Bohemia and the wild wild west – Doug Bauman

Three completely different pieces were presented at tonight’s concert. Since two of them were presented in the first half, and I’ve never heard them before, it is difficult for me to remember all the aspects I know were floating through my mind at the time. "The Good Life" made its premiere. Well the good life started out cheerfully, full of smiles, and it ended up that way, and along the way there was strife. But what I remember was the quality of the music. The Mendelssohn Choir was fabulous, as were the soloists, and mixed with the symphonic music, the combination made a big impact on me. I wish I could hear it again for comparison and to reinforce my impressions. To me the music was fun, not in the same sense as the symphony to follow the intermission. It was purely a joy to listen and to watch this beautiful composition performed so beautifully.  I was smiling the entire time. The links, photo and post concert chat probably do a better job than do my words.

After the symphony I joined some friends at a restaurant across the street, including my friend who I’ve known since 1980, originally from Romania where he grew up. I wondered if Romania was part of the original Bohemia, the home of Dvořák. His reply was that from America, it might appear they were the same, but not so close from over there. However, they were neighbors in a sense. My analogy was to compare Dvořák with my friend. Now we know that Dvořák came to America and stayed a while. Here he wrote much of the symphony we heard tonight. My friend, from Romania, came to the USA by escaping the communist rule when he was still a youth. But my idea is that they both came here and were impressed by the vastness, perhaps by reputation of being ‘big’ or by actually experiencing our breadth. Perhaps this symphony represents the idea of America, our freedoms, our vastness, our individualism, and our wild wild west. My friend tells me of a story when he want on vacation out west and played the 4th movement of this symphony again and again. His description is that the force of this movement eloquently describes this land. I’ve had that same idea myself. Now the historians tell us differently, that Dvořák didn’t experience that directly, but wrote much of this in New York. That his symphony was sort of an email message back home because he was homesick. That version isn’t very romantic. I like my version better: What is to prevent us from believing that his imagination did not conceive of this vastness when composing? It is the idea I like to keep, to have and to hold in my particular imagination of this symphony, the beauty of the land, the country and the music seem to all go together, however it might have come about. It just is, and it is, beautiful!

Well we discussed this at the table, and another fellow who was born in the Czech Republic (Bohemia) agreed with my idea that we should best listen to music, especially new music, and interpret for ourselves what it means, without influences from the written words to tell us what the music is really supposed to mean. Art is abstract, and why force people into a mold of understanding. I listen first, form my own opinion, using my own creative mind to do the interpretations and colorations. Then I read the notes to see what it was ‘supposed’ to be, and I compare. Sometimes they are the same, but more often than not, they differ, and what’s wrong with that? It’s supposed to be fun and entertaining. I guess it’s the individualist in me, the wild wild west rugged individualist, that likes to play it my way, without being told, that feels that way, but I found at least one other who agreed at the table.

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