The commun columbine is one of my favourite flowers in our garden. Its shape, its colour, its robustness coupled with a delicate form make me look out for it every spring. In traditional herbal medicine the columbine was considered sacred to Venus, and the little poisoner’s manual tells me that all parts of it are poisonous though the dose would have to be very high to be lethal. Anyway, I do not intend to poison anyone. Each time I pass the columbines, I have to look at them. Each time I listen to Max Bruch’s Serenade in A Minor (op. 75), I marvel about the delicacy of the piece and its overall beauty.
Existential needs – how many composers had to worry every day about their financial situation and felt it as severe limit to their creativity! Not this man however. “I had a family to feed and to secure the education of my children”, Max Bruch explained. “I was compelled to write pleasing works, easy to understand. […] I always wrote good music, but always music that was easy to sell.” Quality did not suffer necessarily. Towards the end of his professional career as a composer and a music teacher, he wrote a set of works for clarinet, cello and piano: 8 Pieces, Op. 83. He also composed two arrangements, one for violin, cello and piano, and a second one for violin, viola and piano, always having the versatility and economic benefit in mind.
I once had a friend. He died a few years ago. He was the husband of one of my oldest friends. He stayed for some time at my mother’s place before he found a flat for himself and his wife. He was a jolly character, an intellectual, an artist, a philosopher, a wine lover. I sometimes miss his laughter, his bright, round face, his love for mankind. I want to remember him today. All Souls Day. One more Catholic holiday. People go to cemeteries, listen to sermons revolving around eternal life, deliverance. I don’t believe a word of it. My friend is dead. His ashes have been buried, and he only lives on in the memories of those who have known him. Such as my memories.
Have a look at this pebble. It is another souvenir from my wanderings in the Alps last summer. That rock has been in that mountain river for so many years. The alternance of heat and cold, the wind and the water have given it is round shape. No edges. Grey strata alternate with white ones, at least two different types of rock have been compressed together in that pebble. The shape, the colours, the water that flows around it, all these elements gave it a natural elegance. I touched it after it had caught my eye. It felt good. I left it where it belonged to so that others could admire it.