Monday, June 2, 2014

The World of Imagery - What Does the Composer "See?"

After listening to a recorded performance of my most recent work by the renowned violinist and educator Ricardo Odriozola, which he did on May 8 of this year,  some thoughts flashed through my mind as I sat reflecting upon that which I had just heard:
Should I make an attempt to describe the process I undergo when writing music? I then realized that I might well bore the reader to a point of "why read more? I have more important things to do."
I then deflected my thoughts, and remembered some of the meager evidence left to us by the likes of Mozart and Beethoven. Sadly, Mozart's widow destroyed a large number of sketches and  quite possibly some actual words written down by Amadeus; fortunately, some 300 articles dealing with the more intimate aspects  of his immortal incarnations  remain, and an  acknowledged  specialist on this aspect, Ulrich Konrad, gives us valuable insight into this material:
One of the most compellingly interesting ways Mozart used to describe his dealing with the creative process was his use of two words -  in both conversation and in letters he uses the word "composed" to describe what is already  complete and waiting, in his mind, for release onto manuscript later on. He uses the word "written"  to describe that which is indeed actually written down.  One should be reminded that in one of his letters, his answer to an often  asked question was "the music? It's already here, just waiting to be written down."
Many times his music would appear in the form of bass and melody, with the rest of the music to be filled in later. I believe that at his premiere of the "Prague" symphony, he  sat down at the piano and improvised for a considerable length of time.  It is known that on several occasions  Mozart improvised sections of  various  piano compositions in actual performances , before finishing the music in written form afterward. The possibility of a 'photographic' memory is actually somewhat more hazy, as it pertains to Mozart, than the proof  we have of the unparalleled gift of musical imagery that flowed through him and into the world the remainder of us reside in. Do remember that some letters refer, without a trace  of ego to "how can I create such things? Why me?"
Beethoven wrote often about his being directly affected, in his creative process, by his overwhelming connection with and  love of nature. He walked almost daily  through  the countryside, no matter where he happened to reside, and many times reflected  upon the parallel created by the titanic force of creative powers that gave us his language, and the reality of his being seduced by the colors, smells, and, for a short time, the sounds of the world he strolled through and made communion with.
He often mentioned that he would hold an idea  before his mind's eye for a considerable length of time in order to consider the possibilities that would emanate from it. Then he would write. Therein, perhaps, is the reason that by age 31,he finishes the first  of his nine symphonies. Do then look at Mozart, who by age 31, had completed all but the last five or  six of his forty one symphonies.
I could go on; however, I may well have overstayed my visit by now... 

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