Yesterday was a beautiful day. After a week of rain and fog, the sun was out and bathing everything in a golden light. As I drove home, a birch at the roadside caught my eye. The leaves were glittering in the sun, forming a delicate contrast with the tree and the blue sky. A little aesthetic every day miracle – enough to make me feel comfortable and serene. I was listening to Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”, BWV 988. This added to my bliss. What a beautiful day. Sure, I was busy, but nevertheless I found peace in the sight of those golden leaves and this heavenly music.
Did you have music lessons at school? Then perhaps you learned to play the recorder, this very basic woodwind instrument. Well, the recorder is more than just a school instrument for children. It has been in use as a music instrument in its own right since the Middle Ages up to the Baroque period, when it enjoyed a wide popularity. Georg Friedrich Händel has written several sonatas for recorder and basso continuo*. And they are worth to be known a little better.
A petition. A simple piece of paper was the trigger. Ten thousands of Russian workers claimed the rights that the government had promised them two months before. They were hungry and underfed. In January 1905, they marched towards the Winter Palace of Nicolas II outside St. Petersburg, and while they marched, they prayed and sang. They were led by an Orthodox priest. But the Czar’s soldiers drowned the peaceful march in blood. Nicolas II. was afraid. The world was changing and he did not accept change. His soldiers were afraid. The once glorious army had lost the Crimean War and the war against Japan. The country was in uproar.
Is this an obsession? D minor. Many of the classical compositions I truly love are written in D minor: Schubert’s String Quartet no. 14 “Death and the Maiden”, Bach’s Cello Suite No. 2, Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5 “Reformation”. And Johannes Brahm’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 15. Aimez-vous Brahms? Oh, oui! I actually discovered this composer precisely through the novel “Aimez-vous Brahms?”, published by Françoise Sagan in 1959.