Saturday, September 17, 2016

What I Did Last Summer

This summer I took upon myself the climbing of a metaphorical mountain.  Climbing real mountains doesn't appeal to me so much as tackling artistic monuments, even if, as an amateur, it is only to breathe its rarefied air for a moment. 

My goal was to reach the summit of Chopin's Nocturne Opus 48 No. 1, demanding stamina and technique that would be enormously challenging. Well, all I wanted to do was at least try to get a glimpse at its majesty. It is described by some as the greatest and noblest of the nocturnes.

Base Camp

Spent a long time here getting my bearings and gathering prayer flags of those who had gone before me.

It's a musical mountain of crashing chords and sublime sonority, of textural treasures that traverse from high to low in an instant.

Necessary equipment for getting to the summit:   a clock... a metronome....

.... a keepsake photo showing my first attempts at scaling the heights.....

My pack-horse?   A leather padded and adjustable bench built for comfort and endurance that carried my weight through the arduous climb.

Crampons for footholds?   The brass pedals helped with shaping nuances as only Chopin could imagine.

My sherpa?  None other than longtime expert guide Kathi Kurtzman.

Listen to how a great artist such as Valentina Lititsa interprets the piece.  Perhaps in another incarnation, I can play like her!

Pere Lachaise Cemetery
Paris, France

Chopin died too young at the age of 39.  Here, at his grave, daily visitors from all over the world bear witness to his ability to plumb our deepest emotions through his heavenly music. Lucky for me to share his birthday and  for him to be born again every time I play his music! Happily, there are many more musical masterpieces of his to muster!