Relief – that’s what I felt over the past two or three weeks, actually since the first morning a crossed our garden to get to my car in daylight. The darkness of the last winter month made me feel a little depressed at times and I longed for light. I was glad when this dark period was finally over. Light – there’s a lot of light in Ignaz Pleyel’s String Quartet in F Major, B. 338, one of his Prussian Quartets”, about which I have written already in an earlier post. I particularly like this string quartet because of its upbeat joyful mood and its elegant, catchy melodies. More spring music!
He succeeded where Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven failed. He became one of the first if not the first true freelance composer in Vienna who could sustain himself and did not have to worry about patrons, their purse and their taste. Johann Baptist Vanhal knew from first-hand experience what it meant to be dependent; he had been born into a Bohemian family of serfs. His precocious talent however did not go unnoticed and at the age of 17 he directed already a choir and masterfully played the organ. At the same time he perfected his violin play and started to compose. And yes, you remember correctly, I have dropped the name of Vanhal in my previous post; he was a contemporary of Mozart!
I very often marvel at Man’s creativity, his industriousness and his ability to solve highly complex issues. I am not speaking about music here, mind you! For two or more years I have been crossing a huge construction site at the southern border of Luxembourg city. A new suburban area is being built, complete with office buildings, apartments, a pharmacy, a high school, a bank, a supermarket and Luxembourg’s new football arena. The roads are being rebuilt in parallel, but the traffic jams are less dramatic than I had anticipated. I am impressed by the speed with which buildings are rising into the sky. I am impressed by the constant coordination required to keep construction going and car traffic more or less flowing.
Breaking the rules. Non-conformity. Deviating opinions. Orthodox behaviour. If you recognize yourself in these attributes, you must have few friends. You are probably one of those people who are considered demanding, strenuous even. Interacting with you requires a true (physical?) effort, a certain mental flexibility, an iron-grade friendship and unlimited trust. Qualities that are praised in every job description, but when it comes to personal relations, suddenly these qualities are valued much less. Ludwig van Beethoven certainly was a strenous personality. A burden to his friends and patrons. And if that weren’t enough already, he also challenged conventional wisdom about what a string quartet should sound like. Oh, boy!