Nihilism, Optimism, And Everything In Between

September 17, 2007

Brahms—And His Weaving Of False Dreams

Filed under: brahms,classical,music,will — op131 @ 5:21 am

Fair Reader,

I continue along my Theme of re-printing Posts of Old. For here is one Post from the Year of our Lord 2000 again:

Brahms

Brahms, you old Master! You weaver of dreams, you liar! You encourage my “hopeless romanticism” and you know it! Life is not as colourful as you would have us believe! Of course you know that I know, and I can hear you laughing.

 

You dear Master, you! You—and the worthless dreams you sell me! No, keep them coming. Weave on and on. Go from here to the depths, then further into the depths, then rise up again—portray that impossibly rich, romantic world as you always do. If only life were really as romantic.

 

The explosion upon the senses that is the first movement of the Piano Concerto in D minor! This is probably the single movement I have listened to most often. With very few compositions can it be said as emphatically as with this one that words can describe nothing. Yet so strong the impulse is, to tell someone, to tell someone to listen to this first movement! To tell someone how rich life can be! To call someone into this obviously-removed-from-life world!

 

The old Master cons me again and again into entering here. How powerfully it begins, and how soon he begins spinning his web! Before I know it I am caught, and must wend my way through to the end, just like the last time.

 

Yes, Brahms is evil. He is subversive to my higher development. He wants to keep me here forever. And so glad I would be if I could indeed remain here forever.

 

So, three minutes down, and the web is getting thicker. Suddenly the false dawn—the rousing trumpets and rolling drums—the false rise—and this time, I fall deeper into the pit so well prepared!

 

There already is the hint that the finale is pre-planned. That apart, the web from the midpoint to the depths before the close surely find a place in all of music. So intriguing, yet so navigable (after twenty or so listenings). And sure enough, here I am again, just like he wanted me to be – just waiting to see what will open the door.

 

Oh, the subversive natures here! This is evil at its most sensuous. So many alternate routes, and yet the old-Goat Master instructs the bassoons to insist that all is lost, and that the very depths must be sounded. And of course the piano obliges, and the haunting forty-second descent into the abyss comes about. That forty-second descent is among the most unforgettable, most distinctive minutes in all of music. There is nothing quite like it.

 

And—lulled into the deep, as planned, the break-out begins, also obviously planned right from the start—and the old Master knows that I knew it! I have seen similar breakouts elsewhere, but the extreme sensuousness, the extreme sound! The effect upon the person is quite unlike anything else and cannot even fall into any of my other categories of experience. It is a category by itself.

 

Was there any doubt that sound is the true sense, the primeval sense, the glorious sense? Now there is none. Oh, sound, Sound! The piano, its role done, goes away—and those horns, those drums, the entire strings – rise like a gargantuan tidal wave, engulfing the sense, and almost the spirit (but not quite!) All Hail! That final ladder – up, up, higher, higher, glory, glory, glory! The thunder, the sound, the sense! That evil connivance of the sensuous and the spiritual that Brahms achieves—all in his unique frame of removed-from-life romanticism! Higher and higher, insaner and insaner, and the blazing, magnificent closing thunderclap!

 

An experience quite unlike any other.

 

And then it is over. No, we never did believe him. He did not expect us to, either.

 

If only life were so rich.

If only life were so rich.

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September 9, 2007

Filed under: beethoven,brahms,classical,mozart,schubert — op131 @ 2:35 am

Here is something I wrote in the Year of our Lord 2000.

Music after a long time: Late Night, September 24th 2000
Razumovsky No. 1

All works of art are microcosms of all of experience, in a formal way. But there are some that “really” are, and some that are not, in a way that we can and do know only by asking ourselves. For a single work of art to be so is rare, but several bodies of works claim this stature.
Experience pours in from all sides, befuddling motivation and orientation, if they were there. Some are unaware of purpose at all; some are taken in the flood of experience; and the few that are not, are left searching for direction – either perceived as “original” direction, or not, but with the only source being the same experience that befuddles.
What the great composers have done is each to give us a suitable distillation of experience, seen from their eyes, but experience, in the end, is common. When we say “suitable distillation”, we do not accept to “take it through another’s eyes”, but rather, we agree that experience is, indeed, common, and we merely consent to be guided. The microcosm is large enough: we do not need to insist on unravelling the whole, which our Masters seem to have done for us.
So have they unravelled the Whole? The answer of course is No; and in that contradiction lies the mystique of the creative act, too.

So, our Masters have suitably distilled Experience so that we may be less overwhelmed; Beethoven, most of all.
That this is what they have done becomes clear on some occassions, one of which is op. 59 no. 1. There are moments during this Master Composition that one is tricked into believing that it is already over; that we are finished with Experience. So rich is this, that one gazes through it all, and feels that one has glimpsed the end. So compelling is the illusion that one comes away from it into – into what? Into a parody of it!

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