Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Triumph of the Will," Part Two...

In my preceding blog, I had written about a pianist, a football player, and a documentarian; all involved with the power of the will. My final statement reminded the reader that there were, indeed, others - and so, I  will submit additional  musicians  to that list:
How about Alexander Scriabin? We know about his journey, as a composer, from  the Chopin period to a world of mysticism and unfettered  imagery; a transition unlike any other composer. But one should be reminded of a crisis  which  arose, at age 21, from an injury to fingers on his right hand, resulting, probably,  from too stringent a self-imposed program of technical development after examining the Liszt Don Juan Fantasy and deciding that his technique was simply not up to the task of dealing with the piano music of this titan.
For about two years, Scriabin could not use his right hand; fortunately, his powers as a composer give us a couple of masterpieces written for the left hand during this terrible period of  fear and depression - there were moments   during which  thoughts of suicide pervaded his consciousness.
But, the will to overcome prevailed, and this genius returned as both a powerful composer as well as one of the most gifted of the pianists of his time.
And what of Robert Schumann?  His death in an  asylum for the insane tells us about the quality of life he endured, beginning with a devastating injury to a number of his fingers while preparing  for a concert career. One story is that he had designed a contrivance that he thought would hasten the physical development of some aspects of technique; and the result were the injuries incurred. Another story is that the syphilis that he fell victim to during his youth was the cause; namely, by undergoing a mercury treatment to combat this disease, the mercury poisoning that ensued damaged the neurology in his hand - so much for the vulnerable revisionism we attach to History; in other words, will we EVER truly know what formed the fate of  the great composer? Certainly, his turning to composition as a prime force of pursuit, following his struggle with hopes to become a performer, gives  us his magnificent powers whenever we wish to listen to his language. The attempts at suicide, and the depression which accompanied this genius throughout his life, were simply swept aside as he sought to pursue the need to do what had to be done.
The will, perhaps?
What about Paul Wittgenstein, the legendary pianist  with not ten, but five fingers?
The promise of  a concert career was shattered when he lost his right arm in a battle during the First World War. Suicide seemed the only way out, for a period. Then, some composers of power came to him and offered to  write music for the left hand. Of course, the most notable of this coterie was Maurice Ravel, who created the most important contribution to the renascent return  of the young man's career; namely the Concerto for  the Left Hand . Serge Prokofiev, among the great composers, also wrote a concerto for Wittgenstein; however, he never performed the piece, as he did not intrinsically understand the style of the Russian composer's music.
Again; the will to overcome...
The legendary pianist Dinu Lipatti was struck down with a fatal disease, while in his early thirties.
I have a recording of a recital containing  the waltzes of Chopin; all the waltzes, except the final one.
He nearly fainted while coming out on stage. He managed to get to the final waltz, but did not; COULD not perform any longer  - there simply was no further strength left.
And yet - do listen to this event. Can you tell what was going on? Absolutely not - the will to do the job at the  high level attached to this man was the paramount reality that  HAD to be the Realization   - anything less was simply not part of the picture being painted.
Again; the will -  the messenger   needed to certify the existence of a power given to so few of us...
And; yes indeed, there are others...




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