Wednesday, August 7, 2013

to compose, perchance to glow

I'm still rereading the book Brahms by Malcolm MacDonald (The Masters Musician Series, Schirmer Books, 1990). It's as much analysis of his music as biography. It's such a good book to drop in and out of, depending on my mood. Reading it, I feel close to the spirit of Brahms.

One special thing I get from this book (a similar thing I get from a Scriabin biography) is how wonderful an occupation must composer be! 
Composing is surely one of the most deeply satisfying things for a human being to do. 

Brahms would go for long walks in Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. Inspirations for themes and possibilities of development would come to him during these lengthy strolls. Many summers, he would retreat to rustic mountain settings, the air pure, the flowers bright. Secluded, he would write many profound works.

Think of it! Walking along while tunes emerge from subtle emotions. Then later, sitting down to put pen to paper. Again -- how richly satisfying to compose music! How fun to go back and make corrections or find alternate expressive moments for certain measures or sections -- to change a color here, an emphasis there. 

The sheer lived-in hours of perpetual creativity. It must be like having a parallel form of time running within one's consciousness -- ordinary life flowing along with extraordinary aural visions rising silently within. 

And much later, after all is affirmed and settled, to write out the fine copy manuscript to send to the publisher! Some lives, despite hardships and loneliness, are truly blessed. To compose must surely bring a warmth to the soul.

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