Traducere // Translate


"Forgive me when you see me draw back when I would gladly mingle with you," wrote Ludwig van Beethoven in the Heiligenstadt Testament, a letter he addressed to his brothers (and humankind in general) in 1802, but never sent. "My misfortune [deafness] is doubly painful because it must lead to my being misunderstood, for me there can be no recreations in society of my fellows, refined intercourse, mutual exchange of thought, only just as little as the greatest needs command may I mix with society."

The Heiligenstadt Testament is a well-known document and has been exhaustively studied as one of the clearest windows we have into the composer's thinking. And yet, Beethoven's description of himself as a man who wanted "the society of [his] fellows" generally plays little part in the popular conception of him. On the contrary, we tend to remember him as deliberately, fiercely individualistic—an icon for those who prefer to go their own way, unconcernedly leaving the rest of humanity trailing in their wake. In fairness, Beethoven himself contributed considerably to his own reputation with his distinct lack of social graces, including a notorious carelessness about hygiene and a manner that could be abrupt to the point of rudeness. This helps to explain why posterity has tended to gloss over, or even ignore, his expressed longing for companionship. Yet Edward Dusinberre suggests that we shouldn't, and he brings to the subject the perspective of a musician who has spent his life playing in one of the world's great string quartets, the Takács. He takes his title from Beethoven's rejoinder to critics who found his Opus 59 quartets too radical: "They are not for you, but for a later age!"

That might seem to go well with the portrait of Beethoven as an isolated genius against the world. Nonetheless, that's not the Beethoven that Dusinberre hears after having worked for so many years on his quartets—arguably one of the most social forms of music.

To be part of a quartet, Dusinberre explains, requires not just great musicianship but also an ability to play well with others, both onstage and off. He learned this very early in his career. Dusinberre was a reserved young Englishman just out of Juilliard when he got the chance to audition for the recently vacated position of first violin of the Takács Quartet. Suddenly, he found himself in the middle of a gregarious group, prone to lapsing into their native Hungarian and able to read each other's signals during rehearsals and performances with a quickness that caught him off guard. As a candidate for first violinist, he was supposed to be displaying leadership skills at a time when he was still struggling not to feel like an outsider.

During that strenuous audition period, he found himself grateful for the particular Beethoven piece they were working on (Opus 59, No. 3):
The vivid emotional landscape and exhilarating conclusion of Beethoven's defiant response to personal suffering proved to be stalwart companions both for the seasoned members of the Takács and their inexperienced applicant.

Throughout his book, tracing Beethoven's history and experience with string quartets along with his own, Dusinberre continues to find him an inspiring, if unconventional, guide—both to music and to life with other musicians. The tensions and stresses of the composer's personal relationships drove him to create music that offered something more idealistic: "Grieving the loss of companionship, Beethoven created his own ideal dialogues in his Opus 18 quartets, conversations over which he had complete control."

If that statement can be read cynically, it's still not altogether condemnatory. For as much as he might have liked to, Beethoven wasn't able to exercise complete control over others in real life. In order to have this idealistic music realized, Beethoven had to work with real musicians, with all the difficulties and struggles that entails—and that Dusinberre would come to understand. Recalling one recording session, he writes:

I was reminded of the laconic observation by another quartet player that the hardest aspect .  .  . was the constant need to respect one's colleagues' opinions. At times I just wanted to forge ahead with my own idea, impatient with the complexities inherent in working so closely with three other musicians.
But there's little room in quartet playing for forging ahead. In rehearsals, in performances, and even over meals, the four musicians were constantly rethinking and reworking their phrasing, emphasis, timing, and the myriad other details that go into making great music. The whole exercise requires a sense of humor, an ability to compromise and cooperate, and a healthy amount of humility, all of which Dusinberre displays here.

He quotes Goethe's description of a string quartet as "four rational people conversing with each other," and even if the Takács often looked more like three excited Hungarians and an impatient Englishman wrangling with each other across a breakfast table, that was the standard for which they strove. Over the years, through the harmonious moments and the dissonant ones—and as various members dropped out because of illness or other career opportunities, and had to be replaced—the remaining members have grown closer, chiefly through the deliberate practice of "emotional restraint."

"Unlike in some kinds of reality show," Dusinberre quips, "the aim is to keep four people on the island."

Dusinberre uses the two different endings of Beethoven's Opus 130 as an analogy for their relationships—the original, turbulent Grosse Fuge movement, in which "the voices cry out against their interdependence," and the more peaceful and conventional movement with which Beethoven reluctantly replaced it. The Takács has played both versions of the work, and is very familiar with both moods: "Every now and again we experience a Grosse Fuge of sparky interactions that while leaving us briefly raw and vulnerable allow a return to the daily cheer of the alternative finale," he recounts. "Keeping the peace is something I value now much more than I did 20 years ago." Yet even as he celebrates this personal and professional achievement, Dusinberre wryly imagines the composer's reaction:

All the more reason for Beethoven to deride me! What business do I have censoring his works for my own needs? The fugue demands to be played, like so much of Beethoven's great music not merely affirming but challenging a life view or emotional state, not allowing one to stand still.
He may be right about that. But it may also be that Beethoven, after a lifetime of strained and difficult relationships, would have understood the need for a little peace. If interpersonal harmony was something he struggled for, this wise and perceptive book suggests, at least his sublime quartets hint to us that he knew it was worth the struggle.

For my brothers Carl and Beethoven

O ye men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn or misanthropic, how greatly do ye wrong me, you do not know the secret causes of my seeming, from childhood my heart and mind were disposed to the gentle feelings of good will, I was even ever eager to accomplish great deeds, but reflect now that for six years I have been a hopeless case, aggravated by senseless physicians, cheated year after year in the hope of improvement, finally compelled to face the prospect of a lasting malady (whose cure will take years or, perhaps, be impossible), born with an ardent and lively temperament, even susceptible to the diversions of society, I was compelled early to isolate myself, to live in loneliness, when I at times tried to forget all this, O how harshly was I repulsed by the doubly sad experience of my bad hearing, and yet it was impossible for me to say to men speak louder, shout, for I am deaf. Ah how could I possibly admit such an infirmity in the one sense which should have been more perfect in me than in others, a sense which I once possessed in highest perfection, a perfection such as few surely in my profession enjoy or have enjoyed - O I cannot do it, therefore forgive me when you see me draw back when I would gladly mingle with you, my misfortune is doubly painful because it must lead to my being misunderstood, for me there can be no recreations in society of my fellows, refined intercourse, mutual exchange of thought, only just as little as the greatest needs command may I mix with society. I must live like an exile, if I approach near to people a hot terror seizes upon me, a fear that I may be subjected to the danger of letting my condition be observed - thus it has been during the past year which I spent in the country, commanded by my intelligent physician to spare my hearing as much as possible, in this almost meeting my natural disposition, although I sometimes ran counter to it yielding to my inclination for society, but what a humiliation when one stood beside me and heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing, or someone heard the shepherd singing and again I heard nothing, such incidents brought me to the verge of despair, but little more and I would have put an end to my life - only art it was that withheld me, ah it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had produced all that I felt called upon me to produce, and so I endured this wretched existence - truly wretched, an excitable body which a sudden change can throw from the best into the worst state - Patience - it is said that I must now choose for my guide, I have done so, I hope my determination will remain firm to endure until it please the inexorable parcae to bread the thread, perhaps I shall get better, perhaps not, I am prepared. Forced already in my 28th year to become a philosopher, O it is not easy, less easy for the artist than for anyone else - Divine One thou lookest into my inmost soul, thou knowest it, thou knowest that love of man and desire to do good live therein. O men, when some day you read these words, reflect that ye did me wrong and let the unfortunate one comfort himself and find one of his kind who despite all obstacles of nature yet did all that was in his power to be accepted among worthy artists and men. You my brothers Carl and [Johann] as soon as I am dead if Dr. Schmid is still alive ask him in my name to describe my malady and attach this document to the history of my illness so that so far as possible at least the world may become reconciled with me after my death. At the same time I declare you two to be the heirs to my small fortune (if so it can be called), divide it fairly, bear with and help each other, what injury you have done me you know was long ago forgiven. to you brother Carl I give special thanks for the attachment you have displayed towards me of late. It is my wish that your lives be better and freer from care than I have had, recommend virtue to your children, it alone can give happiness, not money, I speak from experience, it was virtue that upheld me in misery, to it next to my art I owe the fact that I did not end my life with suicide. - Farewell and love each other - I thank all my friends, particularly Prince Lichnowsky and Professor Schmid- I desire that the instruments from Prince L. be preserved by one of you but let no quarrel result from this, so soon as they can serve you better purpose sell them, how glad will I be if I can still be helpful to you in my grave - with joy I hasten towards death - if it comes before I shall have had an opportunity to show all my artistic capacities it will still come too early for me despite my hard fate and I shall probably wish it had come later - but even then I am satisfied, will it not free me from my state of endless suffering? Come when thou will I shall meet thee bravely. - Farewell and do not wholly forget me when I am dead, I deserve this of you in having often in life thought of you how to make you happy, be so -

october 6,1802

Niciun comentariu: