I don’t trust politicians or so-called statesmen. They are – by profession – in the manipulating business. I keep a safe distance from politics and my creative mind does not have to bow to anyone’s wishes, however mighty he might be. Ludwig van Beethoven was less fortunate. At the beginning of his career, he was vying for the favour of King Frederic William II of Prussia. In May and June 1796 he stayed in Berlin and met the cellist Jean-Louis Deport, who had been asked by the king to join the court orchestra. The king himself was an excellent cellist and he asked Beethoven to write a couple of pieces for cello.
Puzzled and enchanted – I felt like Alice after she fell through that rabbit hole. A very strange world, very different from what I knew up to then. I found familiar elements too, the language to Dmitry Shostakovich and Bela Bartok came to my mind. Pleasing sounds, interesting constructions, and now, after many weeks of listening to this piece, it almost feels like I had been born on the other side of the rabbit hole.
Death has invaded my life. Some five years ago, a friend died. He was younger than I was. A little over a year ago, another friend died. He too was younger than I was. A few days ago, a friend’s father died. Death has crossed a threshold and left the sphere of the abstract, it rippled the peaceful flow of my life. I am not afraid, no. But my awareness of my own mortality has increased. For the first time, thinking about man’s mortality kept me from sleeping. The dead are no longer the anonymous victims of far away wars, natural disasters, car accidents or social precariousness. The dead have a face now, a familiar face and a familiar voice.
The father of the Protestant faith, Martin Luther, was what the Germans call a “Menschenfreund”, a friend of mankind. Through his faith he loved his next as he should, of course, and man’s salvation was his lifelong obsession. But above all, he loved to socialize. He would gather teachers and student in his dining hall in Wittenberg, they would eat, drink, sing, recite poems, read from the gospel and discuss religious and worldly matters until late at night.