Monday, February 6, 2017

A Legendary Pianist, a Reigning Athlete, a Gifted Documentarian - a Commonality?...

Vladimir Horowitz was considered by many to be the most powerful pianist of the twentieth century. Possessing a  magnificent  expressive range and a mammoth technique, he  held  countless audiences breathless in  his famous afternoon recitals, for over half a century.
During his career, there were mysterious departures from the concert stage, during which his admirers would be in wait for the maestro to return; and would be in waiting as much as years at a time. One of these 'retirements' consisted of his not leaving his New York home for two years. Some of  the recordings he made during these periods away from the concert stage were made right in his town house in Manhattan.
The  central reason for these withdrawals from the recitals was Fear - fear that he might fail an audience. He was bedeviled by a fear born of  his need to propel his playing beyond the moment - and fail. Perhaps it was due to  a positioning of self caused by the need to 'take a chance'. Rachmaninoff once stated that "every really fine pianist needs to take a chance." And it seems that the electrifying manner of Horowitz performances was created by a kind of neurotic 'edge' that propelled him constantly forward relentlessly, creating that Fear  attending his concerts for a greater part of his life. He received psychiatric treatment during these periods away from the stage, and underwent treatment for the depression that must have accompanied his consciousness.
But - he prevailed. He did not fail, as we all know.
Tom Brady has been a mainstay for a  decade and a half, having become a household name in New England as one of football's great quarterbacks. He is regarded as one of the great football players with his command of the game, tactically and physically. His brilliant career was certified this year with both a four game suspension overwhelmed by leading his team to yet another of his multiple appearances in the Super Bowl last night. A close game was expected by many.
But - New England was behind  twenty to nothing before the first half was over, and I left the living room and announced to my wife, who was working on a painting, that catastrophe was at hand, and that I might  just  shut  off the T.V. in disappointment and surprise. It appeared that neither Brady nor his team was adjusting to a brand of football being displayed by the competing team(Atlanta), and was being thrashed.
Lo and behold -  Horowitz in a football uniform - Brady, in the second half, became the Artist, the Thinker, about the moment. The team became alive,  transforming itself into the dominant component in  a matter of minutes, and reversed the direction of the game. Imagine - Brady and  his team were never in the lead  in the game until the final play, which  was the touchdown that decided the outcome.
Brady was the performer who achieved and  maintained winning control over HIS instrument; namely, the team  he had known so well for such a long period of time.            
Which brings us to Leni Riefenstahl, one of five women close to the core of the the Hitler hierarchy, who created a documentary dealing with the 1934 Nazi Congress in Nuremberg.
Her theme was the power which a single man; Adolf Hitler, held over some 60 million, and  moved the entire world toward a new Dark Age. Her techniques in this documentary were so imaginative and compelling that future directors such as Hitchcock and Wilder  used some of them in their masterpieces. This documentary is considered one of the greatest of the twentieth century.
The title?
"Triumph Des Willen" - "Triumph of the Will."
 Horowitz? Brady?  Indeed.
There are, of course, others...

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