Yesterday, organist Marie-Claire Alain passed away at the age of 86. Her oldest brother, Jehan Alain, who died in combar in WWII, was an organist as well, and a composer too. I hereby share with you his Litanies for organ, played by Marie-Claire Alain. May this be my litany to the world; that the organists in this world may never extinct, because there is so much beautiful music written for this instrument! If there is such a thing as heaven, the organ is the bell you ring at the gates.
Monthly Archives: February 2013
I don’t know if it was done on purpose, but this is what I saw on the windowsill of my practice room:
The 24th of February 1837, Rosalía de Castro, the famous Galician poet, was born in Santiago de Compostela. To honour her I’d like to share with you one of her poems from the bundle Cantares Gallegos.
Fun un domingo, fun pola tarde
Fun un domingo, fun pola tarde,
co sol que baixa tras dos pinares,
cas nubes brancas sombra dos ánxeles,
cas palomiñas que as alas baten,
con un batido manso e suave,
atravesando vagos celaxes,
mundos extraños que en raios parten
ricos tesouros de ouro e diamante.
Pasín os montes, montes e valles,
pasín llanuras e soledades;
pasín os regos, pasín os mares,
con pés enxoitos e sin cansarme.
Colleume a noite, noite brillante,
cunha luniña feitas de xaspes,
e fun con ela camiño adiante,
cas estreliñas para guiarme,
que aquel camiño solo elas saben.
Dempois a aurora co seu sembrante
feito de rosas veu a alumbrarme,
e vin estonces, antre o ramaxe
de olmos e pinos, acobexarse
branca casiña con palomare,
donde as pombiñas entran e saien.
Nela se escoitan doces cantares,
nela garulan mozos galantes
cas rapaciñas de outros lugares.
Todo é contento, todo é folgare,
mentras a pedra bate que bate,
mole que mole, dálle que dálle,
con lindo gusto faille compases.
Non hai sitiño que máis me agrade
que aquel muíño dos castañares,
donde hai meniñas, donde hai rapaces,
que ricamente saben loitare;
donde rechinan hasta cansarse
mozos e vellos, nenos e grandes,
e anque non queren que aló me baixe,
sin que o soupera na casa naide,
fun ó muíño do meu compadre;
fun polo vento, vin polo aire.
English translation (found here)
I went on a Sunday, I went during the afternoon
With the sun that goes down behind the stands of pine,
With the white clouds, sunshade of the angels,
With the darling doves that flap their wings
With an easy and gentle flutter
Traversing dim, dappled skies—
Alien worlds that part into beams
Rich treasures of gold and diamond.
I crossed the hills, hills and valleys,
I crossed plains and moors;
I crossed the rills, I crossed the seas
With dry feet and untiring.
Nightfall caught up with me—brilliant night
With a bright moon made of jasper—
And I went down the trail with her,
With the twinkling stars to guide me
For they alone know that route.
Afterward the dawn with her semblance
Made of roses came to give me light
And I saw then through the foliage
Of elms and pines, snuggled away,
Precious white house with pigeon loft
Where the darling doves go in and out.
Sweet songs are heard within it;
Gallant lads revel inside it
With the lassies of roundabout places.
All is gladness, all is leisure
While the stone that slams and slams,
Grinds and grinds, knocks and knocks,
Plays rhythms to it with a lovely taste.
There is no cuddly place that pleases me more
Than that water mill in the chestnut forest
Where there are lassies, where there are boys
Who richly know how to spar,
Where grate until they tire
Young and old, children and grownups,
And although they don’t want me to go down there,
Without anyone in the house being aware
I went to the mill of my child’s godfather,
I went riding the wind, I came riding the air.
The last two lines are borrowed from a folklore song called Pousa. The mill (muiño) lent its name to the popular dance muiñeira (a jig), although in recent version of Pousa they sing of a taberna (a pub), which of course nowadays is a more common place to get together and have fun.
What did I do all week? Rehearsing. With maestro Heinz Holliger. A great experience. Even though I only had to play in one piece, I stayed for most of the rehearsals, just to experience the maestro at work. The concert on Wednesday was a wonderfull way to end this interesting orchestra project.
I am, it’s true. I’m trying to find the motivation for the things I should be motivated for. I have tons of motivation and persistence, but for the wrong things. I started out this year with the motivation to succeed, to get my two master diploma’s at the end of this year. I felt it was going to be a great year. I knew it would be hard. When the study councelor asked me what my motivation was to do everything in one year, I told him having too much work motivated me, whereas if I had more time, I wouldn’t do much and just waste the extra year.
I still think that way. But as I decided to do something ‘out of the normal’ my teachers automatically supposed that I’d show some ‘out of the normal’ prestations. And that’s were our paths were divided. Because I evidently do everything my way.
I know that this way I will get the result I need, I will be ready for the exam, and I just need my teachers to trust in me. But they don’t. They still want real prestations, they want me to do as they want, they want me to be like this:
They want to see action. Right here, right now, not in May or June. Problem: when someone practically ‘orders’ me to do something, I know that my stubborn person will do exactly the opposite. I can’t help it! So here I am. After a week of holidays which were not really holidays. At least, they weren’t supposed to be holidays, I should’ve been working, and writing, and be able to show some results of my week. In stead, I’ve been feeling bad all week (a mixture of sadness, anger, frustration, nerviousness, and desperation). I’ve been telling myself to start working. I’ve started working without be able to concentrate, without any results. As the donkey running behind his carrot and NEVER catching it. I do have some results of this week, but not the kind that I can show in class. So here we are again, stressed and sad, knowing that the teachers will give me another “you won’t make it” speech. I need to start focusing on them again, in stead of doing things that make me feel happy. I should find the road between my way and the highway. This road is called motivation.
I read THIS article, of which the following part caught my attention:
To give the reader a better feel for the differences in thinking among the three ability levels, imagine the three detectives from Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes: Inspector Lestrade, Dr.Watson and Sherlock Holmes himself. Analytical Inspector Lestrade would solve the case step by step with concrete evidence. Dr. Watson would appreciate clues which had obvious and non-obvious connections to one another and synthesize abstract clues. Sherlock Holmes would find and generate clues which he could hypothetically integrate to solve a crime. Holmes was an interesting mixture of brilliant analytical skills and synthetic ability which enabled him to perceive the minutest details, assign proper weight to each, and to integrate these into a large-scale picture of the entire situation. For us, Inspector Lestrade is of normal intellectual ability, Dr. Watson is of the moderately gifted level, and Holmes is extremely gifted.
And that got me into watching the two movies (2009 and 2011) with Robert Downey Jr. playing Sherlock Holmes, and the BBC series Sherlock, with Benedict Cumberbatch as the great detective. I had never before read anything about Sherlock Holmes, but I was immediately hooked. His remarks, his actions, his way of thinking, his intuition, his clairvoyance, the speed of his thinking,… It is so recognizable to me! Yes, I am also extremely gifted. And no, that doesn’t mean that everything comes easy to me.
A small comparison between normal IQ, gifted, and extremely gifted:
Being gifted doesn’t mean you don’t have to work to excell, on the contrary. Extremely gifted people very often feel misunderstood. They do everything in a different way, and not as they are supposed to do. They have to fight very hard to prove their ways and theories right. They have very little in common with normal ability people, but because those are the mayority, gifted people (not only the extreme ones) are asked to adapt (or do it without realizing). But it is a bit like the story of the ugly duckling: no matter how hard he tries to be a normal duckling, he’s stil recognized as the odd one out, and everybody just turns his back on him.
Finding out I am that ‘odd one out’ was quite comforting for me. It was the confirmation of the feeling that I really am different from everyone else. I somehow found the motivation to keep living, thinking, and working in my own special way, in the hope that someday I will get recognition. It is not always easy to hold your ground when nobody seems to have faith in you. Some days I’m so depressed I think that maybe I’m wrong after all, and I’m not special at all; that I can’t do anything right. I keep thinking that before I had less sad days, but in the end, there are still many good days, and they are even better than before, more natural. I decided that in my own life I won’t adapt anymore (only in superficial social relationships), make myself believe that I’m just like anyone else. Because I’m not. I’m like Sherlock Holmes.
André Laporte, the composer I wrote about in my last post, is apparently a fan of the writings of Franz Kafka, he has them all in his personal library. Some of his compositions (including the Reflections) were inspired by the ideas of Kafka, and he even wrote an opera to the story of Das Schloß, The Castle. When he told us there is a possible influence of Kafka in Reflections, I joked: “Well, then we should read Kafka.” We all laughed. But, later, I started to take my remark more seriously, and I went to the library and got the complete oeuvre of Kafka (translated, although I normally don’t read translations, but I guess the work of such an important writer will be translated quite well, and it will safe me some precious time, as in Dutch, I can read vertically, which in German I can’t).
As you might know, I’m preparing my masters exam of clarinet performance. I’ll have to play two recitals, one in May, and one in June. One piece that will be one my June exam is Reflections (inner-space music) by the Belgian composer André Laporte. Another girl from the clarinet class, had been studying the piece with the contemporary music teacher, who personally knows the composer. And on his suggestion whe got in contact with Laporte, and were invited to his house. It was one of those striking musical and personal experiences that I’ll probably never forget.
It was a long journey there, especially because we had some problems with train delays (as always with Belgian trains), but we forgot all about that when we arrived and were warmly welcomed by André Laporte and his wife. My friend would be playing the piece to get some commentaries from the composers, but we first listened to Laporte’s favorite recording of the Reflections, an LP with Walter Boeykens from 1979, which was unfortunately never re-edited on cd. It might me partly because of the great set of speakers Laporte has in his home studio, but the sound quality was amazing. Of course, that was also to the merit of Boeykens, who really did play the piece beautifully.
After this, my friend performed the piece. When the performance was done, Laporte gave some general remarks about how the piece should sound (considering its title is Reflections, so it shouldn’t be too extroverted) and answered some specific questions that had risen while my friend was studying the piece. We listened to a recording of Stephan Vermeersch, of whom I will share a YouTube performance down here, and to finish this wonderful afternoon, whe where invited to coffee and cake.
I also found out that Mr. Laporte will be seated in the jury for my fugue exam. I guess that’s a positive thing, as I can be sure after meeting him that he will ask relevant and intelligent questions, something I’m really fond of. In general he seemed like a real intelligent, educated, and amiable person. I hope that maybe people will say that of me when I’m his age. He’s really a remarkable person. And after hearing the Reflections several times in one afternoon, I’ve already grown fond of the piece, and I found that little push I needed to start studying it (I was a bit held back before because of the difficulty, as I’ve never done a piece with contemporary effects before).