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Friday, October 11, 2013

Bach Beaming. By John von Daler


                Let me admit it at once: at concerts I do not always concentrate on the music. I will go to hear some music that I love and instead of following the piece from start to finish I glide away in my own thoughts and pretty soon I'm well into some project of my own. Let's just say that I get a lot of work done while other people are playing.

                That summer in Leipzig, though, we walked in from our hotel on the outskirts of town. The long, straight boulevard was lined with bombed-out buildings with black windows gaping into the sun like some snaggled-toothed giant. These sixty years had passed and they still stood unused and uncared for.
                Closer to the center of town new building projects turned up and our spirits rose as we put The Second World War behind us and thought about Bach. Outside Bach's own church we were going to hear chamber music on this beautiful day.
                When we arrived at the church the square was covered with people sitting on chairs they had brought with them. We had nothing to sit on, so we quickly checked out an outdoor restaurant right in front of the music stands and chairs that had been set up for a quartet. One table was vacant right at the edge overlooking the music. We rushed to it and sent off an order for a snack and some wine.
                Soon the musicians arrived, the crowd quieted down completely and we were immersed not in Bach, but in Mozart. Admittedly, the first few tones disappointed me, expecting Bach as I had, but soon Mozart had my attention.
                As I said, I usually float away on my own thoughts, but today was different. I fell into a conversation with Mozart in a completely new way. He would state some theme and then I would think, O.K. What are you going to do with that? Go to D major? and Mozart would answer back, Yes, but I'm going to ease it towards E minor. What? I would answer, You could have chosen B minor with ease, but E? Then Mozart would say, Take it easy, We'll do B right afterwords.
                In this way you might say I conversed my way through two quartets by Mozart and Beethoven. I have seldom enjoyed a concert more, I got no work done whatsoever and Bach flew around in the blue summer sky, a pudgy angel dressed in sunbeams.  There I was patting Beethoven and Mozart on their heads, saying, Way to go! Nice choices! Could not have done it better myself!

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