Friday, April 16, 2010

Beethoven--"Emperor Concerto"

From Another Country, Book II, Chap 1:

"Then, as he neared the Boulevard, he heard music. At first, he thought it came from the houses, but then he realized that it was coming from the shadows across the street, where there were no houses. He stood still and listened; to Beethoven's 'Emperor' Concerto, which was moving away from him...The boy hesitated on the corner; looked over, briefly, and his eyes met Eric's. He turned in the direction of St. Germain-des-Pres. Eric crossed the street. Tum-ta-tum, tum-ta-tum, tum-ta-tum, tum-ta-tum! went the music...'Hello,' Eric said. 'I'm afraid I've got to hear the end of that concerto.'"

As I have noted on numerous occasions previously, I am a complete Philistine when it comes to music, even beyond my usual level when confronted with anything meaningful. I don't even try to be serious about it. I judge pieces of music by how enjoyable and stimulating they are to get drunk to. I can read a basic score because I took violin in school from 6th through 10th grade. But I never practiced, and I had no talent, no feel for it anyway. I was the sixth chair out of seven in the violin section, though this had the consolation that the seventh chair, whom I had to sit beside and share a stand with, was occupied by Angie R, a smart girl from a good family who however bothered with practicing even less than I did. She had a lot of under-the-radar type sex appeal. She wore glasses and rather drab clothing, and she was small, but she was always perfumed and she had--well, she had the kind of build which exerts on me an especially great desire to poke and prod and so on, but the force of this was not something one felt across the room much at all, but which one felt at water boiler strength within actual touching distance. The particular excitement of this attraction is something that I have actually found, to my disappointment, to be quite rare. I don't know that I was even all that conscious of liking her outside of that class, maybe because I had my forty-five minutes a day of her perfumed sighs and heaving her (smallish, but perfectly proportioned) breasts a foot away from me and couldn't have taken much more. It never occurred to me to say, ask her out, not that she would have said yes, but the tension of sitting next to her in a darkened movie theater for two hours without touching her, which is almost certainly what would have happened, might nearly have killed me.

So I had to take a break to see if Angie R was on Facebook but I couldn't find her. She was always kind of enigmatic that way. Anyway I've gotten away from music again. I chose the Glenn Gould performance here, first of all because I do like it, but also because I can stomach him. Those old European grand masters, Casals and Vladimir Horowitz and people like that, who occupy the stage as if they have just descended from the Empyrean, even their clothes fitted by a tailor whose address the mapmakers I have access to have never found the location of, I know they are great and serious men, but I'm just not ready for that height of skill and understanding and cultivation--the gap between the minds is too great to be bridged. With his considerably less grand North American upbringing, Glenn Gould is not a representative of an entire way of life that is an unanswerable reproach to the one I have led, while at the same time managing to become apparently at least a decent piano player, though the ridiculous comment threads on all these classical music videos are well represented with haters and snobs.

This piece isn't bad drinking music. One would need to be in an optimistic and energetic rather than melancholic mood however for the mind to respond satisfyingly to its suggestions, I think.

No comments: