Ah, yes… Bartok. That Hungarian enigma. I hesitated for months before presenting one of his pieces as I haven’t studied his works long enough. It took the French pianist Hélène Grimaud to spur me. She was in town yesterday and what should I say? She was fabulous and Bartok’s Piano Concerto No. 3, Sz. 119 was even more fabulous. An unusual piece executed with a lot of passion by Grimaud and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra led by Yannick Nézet-Seguin.
I like this time of the year. The morning light is very special. I see myself on a Sunday morning sitting in the kitchen. The house is calm. I sit at the table and the first sunbeams are penetrating the morning haze hanging over the vineyards. They plunge the kitchen in a warm, welcoming light. On the right I see the river, on the left I see the leaves of a vine as they turn from green to red – a beautiful red I enjoy every autumn. In a few days all the leaves will be flaming red and hide that old cracked wall that leads to the garden.
For many years, I had the firm conviction that Turkey should belong to the European Union. I had my reasons: Firstly, the destiny of what is today Turkey has been linked to the fate of the European continent for over 2000 years. Christianism spread to Europe via Turkey. The Ottoman Empire brought new ideas, new technologies and the knowledge of the Greek, that had been lost, to Europe. It brought us into contact with different languages and philosophies, a different religion and a different music. Our culture became richer and so did the Ottoman culture. Today, we still have to learn from each other – about our intertwined past. Secondly, I was convinced that an integration of Turkey (and of Bosnia-Herzegovina) into the EU could prove wrong those who claimed that democracy, the rule of law, and Islam are incompatible: Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
The Communist Party did not welcome revolutions that it had not initiated itself. György Ligeti was not welcome, nor was his music. Not in Hungary, when it was ruled by the Communist Party. But the Communist world broke apart and Ligeti’s music stays on. He is certainly one of the greatest composers of classical music of the 20th century. Et pour cause, as they say in France.