I once had a friend. He died a few years ago. He was the husband of one of my oldest friends. He stayed for some time at my mother’s place before he found a flat for himself and his wife. He was a jolly character, an intellectual, an artist, a philosopher, a wine lover. I sometimes miss his laughter, his bright, round face, his love for mankind. I want to remember him today. All Souls Day. One more Catholic holiday. People go to cemeteries, listen to sermons revolving around eternal life, deliverance. I don’t believe a word of it. My friend is dead. His ashes have been buried, and he only lives on in the memories of those who have known him. Such as my memories.
In Memoriam. That is the name of an Adagio in C sharp minor for violin and orchestra (Op. 65) Max Bruch composed in 1892/93. “I couldn’t say that I wrote it in memory of any particular person or occurrence”, Bruch explained in a letter he sent to the violinist Joseph Joachim on January 9, 1893, along with the handwritten score. He thought of the piece as an instrumental nenia (plaintive song). It has only one movement, and when his publisher suggested he should add other movements, he objected adamantly: “In Memoriam is so well-rounded and self-contained that nothing can follow it.” Nothing but a minute of silence.
In Memoriam has been recorded by the NDR Radiophilharmonie and Antje Weithaas.
© Charles Thibo