Could there be anything more painful than witnessing a fading love? I doubt it. Having explored German poetry for many years – you will remember my enthusiasm for Rainer Maria Rilke and Heinrich Heine – I have recently turned my attention to French poets. Paul Verlaine is among those who interest me right now, and I found a beautiful and very sad poem with the title “Colloque Sentimental” (Sentimental Colloquium). Let me quote the first lines:
Dans le vieux parc solitaire et glacé,
Deux formes ont tout à l’heure passé.
Leurs yeux sont morts et leurs lèvres sont molles,
Et l’on entend à peine leurs paroles.1
If you are following this blog on a regular basis, you are aware that I am listening to music all the time. While I am driving to work, at work, when I am driving back home, at home, while on business trips and during my vacations. And while I was sipping my coffee in the afternoon sun a few days ago, I thought it would be fun to compile a Top 15 List, based on the number of times I have been listening to a specific piece over the past four years, with the help of – peep – synchronizing all my devices. I was a little startled by the result, as I did not expect some composers to do so well and certain pieces not to show up at all.
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.