A little over a month ago a tragedy hit Manchester. Terrorism had struck again. The moment I learned the news I was listening to Anton Arensky’s Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 54. It gave me a lot of consolation. Reading the headlines, I felt no anger. I felt sad. And I felt determined not to be intimidated, not to be afraid. Looking back at the string of terror attacks since 9/11, I have come to the conclusion that this facet of evil has become part of my daily life and will not go away. Resilience in the face of evil is the shield and sword of democracy.
Wagner? This is not Wagner. But it sounds like Wagner! An Italian, you say? Non è possibile! But yes, this symphony, aptly named “Sinfonia Drammatica”, was composed by an Italian composer, Ottorino Respighi. For those of you who have followed this blog from its creation on, that name will have a familiar ring – Respighi composed this wonderful cycle of symphonic poems with the city of Rome as its main subject, that I discussed in one of my first posts.
Johannes Brahms’ music has made it into more than one novel of worldwide fame. The obvious one is “Aimez-vous Brahms?” (English title: Goodbye Again) published by the French author Françoise Sagan in 1959. In 1987, the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami highlights in his novel “Norwegian Wood” both Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 and his Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 83. Sagan and Murakami wrote love stories, very different in style, set in a different social context but with a common subject: sexual desire, moral conventions and unfulfilled love, topics linked to Brahms, his biography and his music.
The bigger picture – apparently that is what we have to look at in order to understand what’s happening around us. But is that true? By constantly looking at the bigger picture, we may well miss the little details that matter to take an informed decision. And we may also miss those little details that make an ordinary day an exceptional one.