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MOZART

Violin Sonata in B-flat major, K. 454

Lovis Corinth, The Violinist, 1900

Albert von Keller, The Pianist, 1920

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’
Part Nine Chapter 8

How shall I convey the shadow and light of our last evening in Amsterdam? The shadow was within me, the light came from you. In the salon, Klaas, Lia, Joost and I watched you and Ingrid playing Mozart’s Violin Sonata in B-flat major, K. 454. As I listened to you render Mozart’s humanity through your capacity to listen to each other, I thought of Lia’s evolutionary tree—the birds from the reptiles—and wondered: What am I? Marietta, when your gaze met mine on that patio in Princeton, I felt the crack of the egg; I felt my serpent’s tooth making me an opening: I slithered out, I learned to crawl, but I still haven’t learned to fly. When will I? Listen! Your violin effortlessly takes over a theme in the middle of a phrase and then hands it back to Ingrid’s piano, leaving a thrill to run through me. Once again I am blown away by your virtuosity; once again I am moved by your virile femininity: In your flats, T-shirt and jeans, in your black and white and gold and green, you send me as you soar. Listen! You and Ingrid are so entwined that I can’t tell when she takes the cantabile out of your bow and when she puts it back: I simply let the ravishing lyricism of the Andante course through my veins.

Franz Marc, Sonatine for Violin and Piano, 1913

Alice Pike Barney, Moon Madness, 1928

And now once again I am overcome with love, once again I give thanks for the light: And then the shadow falls. I can’t forget the abortive search, the darkness of asylum; I can’t forget the silent screams, the air grabbed in gasps. Yes, I remember the dread of impending madness, the head-banger banging at my door; I remember the days when I couldn’t be still, fearing I’d lose myself, forget to think about myself, slip out of reality. I’d watch the clock, keep busy, for if I didn’t I’d no longer know who I am. I tried to read, but reading had become a game of infinite regression, an exercise in stealth: Persecuted by my own lucidity, obliged to be constantly aware of myself, I couldn’t accept the coin of signifiers lest it depredate my soul. No girl’s touch came to remind me that the most immediate, the most trustworthy, the most integral source of knowledge is the body. Then again, I didn’t have a body. I was weightless, a wisp of smoke escaping from the citadel of myself, a faint signal of a murdered soul: I was an idiot. Look! Walking across a field of white, a boy feels a tremor running up his spine: He’s just realized the bare feet trudging through the snow are commanded by his mind. Look! The girl in the school bus, the terror in her eyes as the boy stares into them: ‘Know me. I want you to know me’. Look! The creeping rootstalks, the tender grass—look at the boy watching them grow; the mangy dog, the stray cat—see them licking his face. I can’t forget, I can’t forget, I can’t forget! And then once again I am overcome with love, once again I give thanks for the light: You’re tirelessly improvising, creating music in the moment: In the reprise the theme is never the same. Marrying inventive brilliance with intimacy and simplicity, virtuosity and gallantry with purity of soul, you honour the artist whose impeccable taste compelled the chaos at the heart of man to become a cosmos. And I, what am I? Crawling on the ground yet aspiring to fly, what am I?