March 22, 2004 ~ In Beethoven's Defense
Where have I been? Hiking. Taking pictures like mad. Planting seeds. Playing with wolves. Watching spring push up in the most unexpected places. The usual. Full days, exhausting myself, sleeping deeply at night.
on a hike
One day last week, before work, I heard a scratching noise next to the air conditioner in the window. I crept over and craned my neck, trying to reach an angle where I could see the little cranny directly below the window, and, sure enough, a little Carolina wren poked its head out, looked around, then hopped back down under the ledge. I smiled, and watched as little twigs and leaves moved about as the tiny bird moved around. Building a nest. I ran into the bedroom, where Morgan was sleeping, shook him. He groaned and rolled over.
"Morgan! There's a wren building a nest in the window!"
A wren! Building a nest! Right out the window!"
"Uh huh," he said groggily.
"We can't run the air conditioner this summer, okay?"
"Uh huh--uh... What??"
"The wren is right next to the air conditioner."
Morgan, once he was more conscious, suggested that we should probably run the fan of the air conditioner now, so that the wren can either get used to the noise or find a new nesting spot. (There are no intake or output vents next to where the nest is). But I don't know. I guess he's probably right. I just don't want to disturb them at all, but a North Carolina summer... we will need air conditioning, as much as I hate to admit it. Books and such don't last long without it, because of the humidity around here.
But wrens! In the window! Oh, I hope they stay.
An attempt to imitate Georgia O'Keefe (not particularly successful)
You would not think, from the typical content of this journal, that I even visit a city very often. In reality, however, I live in one. And, weekend before last, Morgan and I went to the Asheville symphony on free tickets.
Beethoven, my favorite classic composer. (For the curious, we heard Overture to Goethe's Egmont, which I'd never heard before; Concerto for Violin, Cello, Piano, and Orchestra in C major; and Symphony No. 3). I don't know much at all about music, but I have always loved Beethoven. Finally, to hear Beethoven's music performed live! Quite an experience. I loved watching the musicians' expressions as they played, especially during the more passionate parts. Some of them were so absorbed that they nearly fell out of their chairs with their swaying.
The guest cellist was playing a cello made sixty years before Beethoven was born (1710). It shone as if new. Imagine all of the musicians who had played it before him. There's an incredible history in that wood.
As we were leaving, I overheard a man who was walking front of us say, "I don't see what's so great about Beethoven. His music isn't nearly as beautiful and relaxing as, say, Mozart."
Ah. Mozart. So refined. So light. So gentle and soft.
But without a fraction of the depth, and passion, and emotional complexity as Beethoven! Symphony No. 3, which that man had just enjoyed (or, more likely, with his attitude, "sat through"), for instance, was incredibly influential. It changed the course of musical history. It was the first composition to take such risky emotional sweeps, from great grief to supreme joy. No other classical composer before Beethoven had put such far-ranging passion into his or her work.
Composers like Mozart composed for the court, for the church, for specific functions. They provided background music. They composed within set parameters for plays and operas, ballets and the like. Beethoven, though, is generally considered the first classical composer to take composing music to the level of genius, to compose for the sake of the music, to make music which would, on its own, move people to their very souls.
At the British Library in London, when I visited a few years ago, I saw some of the original musical sheets from both Mozart and Beethoven. They made me smile. Mozart's, like his music, was lightly penciled in, perfectly even, perfectly controlled, measured, and meek. Beautiful, but too ordered for my taste.
Beethoven's notes, however, were scratched in with heavy, dark lead, in some places almost tearing the paper, all over the page, quick, passionate, forceful. Deeply emotional. Like his music.
Beethoven gives me chills, brings me to tears. Mozart has never been able to do that. Mozart, I might play as light background music at an art showing, so that people can concentrate on the art of the paintings, rather than the art of the music. Beethoven, though, I play, loudly, when I want to feel.
trout lilies along Dam Pasture Trail
I will leave you with several more spring flowers from the last few weeks.
periwinkle, blooming everywhere, now
a flowering tree, not sure what sort
goldenrod, right? grows in a bush.
daffodils, of course
any idea what these are?