Imagine a movie with no words spoken. Part 1 (andante con moto): British coal workers protesting against being laid off. Maggie Thatcher before the House of Commons. TV footage of riots and miners being arrested by the police. Part II (andante mosso, agitato): London. Footage of bankers in awe while the stocks crumble. Abandoned houses in some industrial city. Closed shops. People arguing with officials. Part III (allegro vivace): UK politicians campaigning. Protesters with signs reading “Europe: We want a vote”. Part IV (con moto, molto semplice): A loop with TV footage featuring David Cameron, Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage. The European Parliament in Strasbourg. A funeral. A view from space: the United Kingdom – a tiny spot in the universe. A movie of 22 minutes with no words spoken.
We don’t need words. Words are ambiguous. Words become lies. Music is to supplant words. The Armenian composer Tigran Mansurian wrote in 2006 his Violin Concerto No. 2 “Four Serious Songs”. It has been recorded by the Moldavian violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, the cellist Anja Lechner and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta. A sad, reflective piece. I listened to it yesterday while driving home. An oppressive atmosphere. Plaintive melodies. Dark clouds on the horizon, contrasting with green pastures and yellowish grass. Brexit was on my mind. It had been on my mind for the past few days. What now?
Mansurian was born in 1939 in Beirut and after his return to the USSR, he studied at the conservatory of Yerevan, where he later held a post as a professor of composition. His early pieces, mainly chamber music, were inspired by the Viennese School. In the 1960s he was attracted by the ideas of the Western new music avant-garde but he wanted to give his music a genuine Armenian identity. He combined traditional music, serialism and 12-tone-elements.
Concerto No. 2 is part of several premiere recordings of pieces by Mansurian on an album called “Quasi Parlando” and issued in the wake of the composer’s 75th birthday by the label ECM. The subtitle alludes to Johannes Brahms’ Four Serious Songs, op. 121: dark, introspective meditations on the vanity of man, on death, the lack of justice on earth, set to biblical texts, three from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament. Mansurian’s concerto was inspired by the same passages. So what now?
I don’t know. I feel sorry for those many Britons that have been misled by false information on Europe’s failures and merits. I feel a deep anger against those politicians that have suggested that the European Union is responsible for the many things that went wrong in the UK over the past 40 years. I fear that the United Kingdom has chosen to become part of the problem instead of being part of the solution. I fear that the outcome of the referendum will be a windfall for right-wing extremists all over Europe and wreck this unique project: Building a lasting peace in Europe by trading part of our sovereign rights for mutual solidarity. Europe is not about money. Europe is not about trade. Europe is about peace and stability.