At times I despair over mankind. Its inability to learn from past errors, the rampant lack of respect and dignity in politics, the belligerent tones against minorities set by some politicians and media – all this seems to me fundamentally opposed to the values we officially profess and detrimental to a harmonic society. And there’s little I can do against it. I feel rather helpless and often I turn to the blue sky for consolation. Looking up invariably makes me realize how insignificant mankind is against the backdrop of the infinity of space. How ridiculuous our small and large daily battles are. If there is a God, he must either be horrified by our behaviour or laughing out loud over our pompousness.
I imagine him a young man, bursting of energy and creative ideas, actively building a career as a composer, well-educated, versatile, gifted, successful. Felix Mendelssohn. Felix the lucky one. One of my personal favourites among his works is his Piano Concerto No. 2 in D Minor, op. 40. It exudes the personal traits that I attribute to Felix, associated to the genius of Ludwig van Beethoven and a musical language directly derived from Beethoven.
Pablo de Sarasate, of course. His dances immediately sprung to my mind when I heard Moritz Moszkowski’s Five Spanish Dances, op. 12. Imagine a Pole from Wroclaw dreaming of Spanish temperament and then composing the corresponding music out of the hat, just like that. The Spanish Dances were originally composed for four-hand piano in 1876 and enjoyed instant popularity. But the version for violin and piano – now that beats it all! Moszkowski’s publisher had to deal with all kind of arrangements. The version for piano and violin, just as popular as the original, is only one of them.
So typically Schumann! The summer hasn’t reached its climax yet, but I am thinking about autumn already. No, Robert Schumann does that, and I am just his eager follower. Never really in the present, always somewhere else, always ahead of the rest of the world and looking back with nostalgic feelings – if there’s a way to inflict suffering upon oneself, Schumann is sure to find it. His Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Minor (op. 105) works exactly this way. How sweet it is to imagine myself remembering in September the warm summer evenings, the lush colours of nature, the particular smell of dry grass, the play of the fireflies.How delicious it is to anticipate the coming melancholia.