Saturday, February 21, 2015


What is there in music that it should so stir our deeps? We are all ordinarily in a state of desperation; such is our life; ofttimes it drives us to suicide. To how many, perhaps to most, life is barely tolerable, and if it were not for the fear of death or of dying, what a multitude would immediately commit suicide! But let us hear a strain of music, we are at once advertised of a life which no man had told us of, which no preacher preaches. Suppose I try to describe faithfully the prospect which a strain of music exhibits to me. The field of my life becomes a boundless plain, glorious to tread, with no death nor disappointment at the end of it. All meanness and trivialness disappear. I become adequate to any deed. No particulars survive this expansion; persons do not survive it. In the light of this strain there is no thou nor I. We are actually lifted above ourselves.


[Journal, 15 January 1857]

¿Qué hay en la música que debería estimular así nuestras profundidades? Todos estamos comúnmente en un estado de desesperación; tal es nuestra vida; a menudo nos conduce al suicidio. ¡Para cuántos, quizás para la mayoría la vida es difícilmente tolerable y si no fuera  por el miedo a la muerte o a morir, qué multitud cometería inmediatamente suicidio!. Pero permítasenos oír unas notas de música y seremos advertidos al momento de una vida que ningún hombre ha referido, que ningún predicadoR predica. Supón que trato de describir fielmente la perspectiva que unas notas de música me muestran. El campo de mi vida se convierte en una llanura sin fin, de recorrido glorioso y sin ninguna muerte ni contrariedad al final de ella. Toda la ruindad y trivialidad desaparecen. Me siento adecuado para cualquier objetivo. Nada sobrevive a esta expansión; las personas no sobreviven a ella. A luz de estas notas no hay distinción entre tú y yo. Somos elevados en ese momento por encima de nosotros mismos.

(traducción Guillermo Ruiz) 

"A piece of music that will always baffle the greatest minds in the world, that simply cannot be made sense of, that is still living and floating in the ether and will do so for yet more centuries to come. That is extraordinary. And I did that. I do it, to my continual astonishment, all the time."

"Charles Bukowski, hero of angsty teenagers the world over, instructs us to "find what you love and let it kill you". Suicide by creativity is something perhaps to aspire to in an age where more people know Katie Price better than the Emperor concerto"

I didn't play the piano for 10 years. A decade of slow death by greed working in the City, chasing something that never existed in the first place (security, self-worth, Don Draper albeit a few inches shorter and a few women fewer). And only when the pain of not doing it got greater than the imagined pain of doing it did I somehow find the balls to pursue what I really wanted and had been obsessed by since the age of seven – to be a concert pianist.

Admittedly I went a little extreme – no income for five years, six hours a day of intense practice, monthly four-day long lessons with a brilliant and psychopathic teacher in Verona, a hunger for something that was so necessary it cost me my marriage, nine months in a mental hospital, most of my dignity and about 35lbs in weight. And the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is not perhaps the Disney ending I'd envisaged as I lay in bed aged 10 listening to Horowitz devouring Rachmaninov at Carnegie Hall

The government is cutting music programmes in schools and slashing Arts grants as gleefully as a morbidly American kid in Baskin Robbins. So if only to stick it to the man, isn't it worth fighting back in some small way? So write your damn book. Learn a Chopin prelude, get all Jackson Pollock with the kids, spend a few hours writing a Haiku. Do it because it counts even without the fanfare, the money, the fame and Heat photo-shoots that all our children now think they're now entitled to because Harry Styles has done it.


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