Friendship – at what price does it come? I used to have a few friends in the past, now I have none. At least none that responds to my definition of friendship. A friend is someone who rings at the door even at the middle of the night because he knows he will always be welcome. Because he knows there will always be a glass of wine waiting for him along with a good laugh or a deeply philosophical discussion. A friend is someone who you don’t have to run after to see or hear a lifesign. A friend is someone to whom you can confide and who will nevertheless always respect your silence. Outside the very tight circle of my family – wife, kid, cat – there’s nobody like that.
Back at my meditation point. I have been there a few days ago, it was the photographic setting of the post published on All Souls Day, and as a keen observer you have recognized the iconic shape of the dead tree. Of course. So here I am again, this time for a recapitulation of a whole life. Not mine, no, but the life of a composer I have grown fond of: Johannes Brahms. In 1891 he wrote the Clarinet Quintet in B minor (Op. 115) for the clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld, to whom he also dedicated his Clarinet Trio in A minor (Op. 114).
An early morning in Vienna – what a gift! The city was already on the move, but the serenity of a peaceful night still lingered over little streets north and east of the Stephansdom. I had woken up early and could spare an hour between breakfast and my appointment at the United Nations to stroll around, to spend a moment or two inside the dome, accompanied by my good friend Johannes Brahms. Over my iPhone I listened to the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig under Riccardo Chailly performing Brahm’s Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98. The opening reminded my of a short prayer, later the first movement features waltz-like elements – Good morning, Vienna!
You probably know this feeling: You have been to an extraordinary concert, you exit the concert hall, dumbfounded, unable to cast into words what you just heard. Here is a piece that has this effect upon me each time I listen to it: Johannes Brahms’ Piano Trio in B major, Op. 8. The emotional impact it has upon my soul and my body is hard to explain – an overwhelming experience every single time.