An eery source of inspiration

Midnight. © Charles Thibo

Suddenly my mind was clear like a crystal. From one second to the next I felt like I could penetrate any mystery of the world and solve it. That of course is an illusion, but I felt an enthusiasm for intellectual challenges that I had missed in the days and hours preceding this moment. It started with a post I wrote, the one about Franz Schubert’s Piano Sonata No. 20 in A major. I felt energized, wide awake even though it was just past midnight.

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Impossible choices and a lyrical masterpiece

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Fading. © Charles Thibo

At the time I am writing this post I am experiencing a drought. It hasn’t rained for over two weeks, average day-time temperatures were above 20 °C. I see the grass turning brown, the flowers fading quickly. We have three 500-liter-water-cisterns and the day I am writing this, I siphoned the last drops to water the vegetables in our green house. Whatever you may believe, climate change is real. I have been living in this place now for 12 years and observed our garden closely over that time. I recognize climate change when I see it. Two weeks ago already the World Meteorological Organization issued a Climate Watch Advisory stating that “this drought may be accompanied by water scarcity, local thunderstorms, risks of wildfires and harvest losses.”

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A fantasy emphasizing grace and calmness

Symmetry. © Charles Thibo

Whenever I go for a walk in the woods, I bring back at least a couple of pictures I label “natural beauty”. The grass above grows on an Alpine mountain in Austria and it struck me by its symmetry, its delicate aspect and its actual robustness. The afternoon sun’s reflection on its polished straws gave it a kind of shimmering halo – truly beautiful. These attributes match a work written by Franz Schubert towards the end of his career, in December 1827, eleven months before his death: the Fantasy for Violin and Piano in C major, Op. 159 D. 934.

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Quoting Mozart, anticipating Schönberg

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Desolation. © Charles Thibo

Where to begin? With the incredibly sad introduction of the first movement? With the death of the composer’s mother? With the inexplicable lightness and dynamics of the last two movements, so diametrically opposed to the introduction? In March 1813, Franz Schubert wrote one of his very first string quartets, String Quartet No. 4 in C major, D.46. C major is often associated with a joyous or solemn mood, but this first movement has no joy and no solemnity, it exudes darkness, fear and heaviness, a broken soul, a wretched state of mind, the few glimmers of light appear like pure cynicism.

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