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Topic: make beautiful music with what you have

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  1. #1

    make beautiful music with what you have

    On Nov. 18, 1995, Itzhak Perlman, the violinist, came on stage to give a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. If you have ever been to a Perlman concert, you know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He was stricken with polio as a child, and so he has braces on both legs and walks with the aid of two crutches. To see him walk across the stage one step at a time, painfully and slowly, is an awesome sight.

    He walks painfully, yet majestically, until he reaches his chair. Then he sits down, slowly, puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs, tucks one foot back and extends the other foot forward. Then he bends down and picks up the violin, puts it under his chin, nods to the conductor and proceeds to play.

    By now, the audience is used to this ritual. They sit quietly while he makes his way across the stage to his chair. They remain reverently silent while he undoes the clasps on his legs. They wait until he is ready to play.

    But this time, something went wrong. Just as he finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin broke. You could hear it snap - it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what that sound meant. There was no mistaking what he had to do. We figured that he would have to get up, put on the clasps again, pick up the crutches and limp his way off stage - to either find another violin or else find another string for this one. But he didn't. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes and then signaled the conductor to begin again.

    The orchestra began, and he played from where he had left off. And he played with such passion and such power and such purity as they had never heard before.

    Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. I know that, and you know that, but that night Itzhak Perlman refused to know that.

    You could see him modulating, changing, recomposing the piece in his head. At one point, it sounded like he was de-tuning the strings to get new sounds from them that they had never made before. When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering, doing everything we could to show how much we appreciated what he had done.

    He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his bow to quiet us, and then he said - not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone - "You know, sometimes it is the artist's task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left."

    What a powerful line that is. Perhaps that is the definition of life - not just for artists but for all of us. Here is a man who has prepared all his life to make music on a violin of four strings, who, all of a sudden, in the middle of a concert, finds himself with only three strings; so he makes music with three strings, and the music he made that night with just three strings was more beautiful, more sacred, more memorable, than any that he had ever made before, when he had four strings.

    So, perhaps our task in this shaky, fast-changing, bewildering world in which we live is to make music, at first with all that we have, and then, when that is no longer possible, to make music with what we have left.

  2. #2
    Senior Member danbergam's Avatar
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    Re: make beautiful music with what you have

    DPDAN,

    this is a wonderful thing: and I'm really touched by it, because of my handicap (not polio) forcing me to walk just with tripods and braces on my legs too... that courage, that determination is a lesson I should never forget about.

    First: thank you from the deeps of my heart.
    Second: reporting your name/nickname, as the one of the person I heard this fact from, may I "diffuse" it through the Internet?

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    Daniele Bergamini
    "The gold of Captain Rich" - a danbergam's short-movie -> http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...ad.php?t=62264

    I said goodbye -> http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/showthread.php?t=55669

    "Musico ergo sum."
    "GPO : composer = unicorn : R.P.G. player
    Well, the unicorn is to be imagined... but GPO's real!"

    D.B.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Leaf's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: make beautiful music with what you have

    I nominate this post for post of the year award, if there is one. Thanks Dan!

  4. #4
    Senior Member danbergam's Avatar
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    Re: make beautiful music with what you have

    Quote Originally Posted by Leaf
    I nominate this post for post of the year award, if there is one. Thanks Dan!
    I totally agree with you, Leaf!
    Daniele
    "The gold of Captain Rich" - a danbergam's short-movie -> http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/...ad.php?t=62264

    I said goodbye -> http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/showthread.php?t=55669

    "Musico ergo sum."
    "GPO : composer = unicorn : R.P.G. player
    Well, the unicorn is to be imagined... but GPO's real!"

    D.B.

  5. #5

    Re: make beautiful music with what you have

    Daniele and David,
    It is a wonderful story indeed, I was touched by it also.
    It was sent to me, I am not the author,
    but it is certainly good to share the story with everyone.

    Dan

  6. #6

    Re: make beautiful music with what you have

    Quote Originally Posted by DPDAN
    .......
    What a powerful line that is. Perhaps that is the definition of life - not just for artists but for all of us. Here is a man who has prepared all his life to make music on a violin of four strings, who, all of a sudden, in the middle of a concert, finds himself with only three strings; so he makes music with three strings, and the music he made that night with just three strings was more beautiful, more sacred, more memorable, than any that he had ever made before, when he had four strings.

    So, perhaps our task in this shaky, fast-changing, bewildering world in which we live is to make music, at first with all that we have, and then, when that is no longer possible, to make music with what we have left.
    How true, how true!

    Thank you Dan for posting this wonderful story!
    "Music is the shorthand of emotion." Leo Tolstoy

    Listen to me, tuning my triangle http://www.box.net/shared/ae822u6r3i

  7. #7

    Re: make beautiful music with what you have

    Great story Dan!

    When I break a string on the banjo a cheer goes up as well as they're all thinking, just three more to go, please...

  8. #8

    Re: make beautiful music with what you have

    Quote Originally Posted by tmonaghan
    Great story Dan!

    When I break a string on the banjo a cheer goes up as well as they're all thinking, just three more to go, please...
    That's OK, Lad. Just go ahead and break those strings and then reach for yourrrrr bagpipes.

    My best,

    Larry
    Larry G. Alexander
    www.alexandermusic.com

  9. #9

    Post Re: make beautiful music with what you have

    An excellent post Dan. It is an inspiration to hear about the man and his music.

    Here is something similar in support of your message. Many of you have probably heard it before, but I think it fits well with Dan's message:

    The Touch of the Masters Hand

    Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
    thought it scarcely worth his while to waste much time on the old violin,
    but held it up with a smile; "What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,
    "Who'll start the bidding for me?" "A dollar, a dollar"; then two!" "Only
    two? Two dollars, and who'll make it three? Three dollars, once; three
    dollars twice; going for three.." But no, from the room, far back, a
    gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow; Then, wiping the dust
    from the old violin, and tightening the loose strings, he played a melody
    pure and sweet as caroling angel sings.

    The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,
    said; "What am I bid for the old violin?" And he held it up with the bow.
    A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two? Two thousand! And who'll make
    it three? Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice, and going and
    gone," said he. The people cheered, but some of them cried, "We do not
    quite understnad what changed its worth." Swift came the reply: "The touch
    of a master's hand."

    And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin,
    Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin, A
    "mess of pottage," a glass of wine; a game - and he travels on. "He is
    going" once, and "going twice, He's going and almost gone." But the Master
    comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand the worth of a soul
    and the change that's wrought by the touch of the Master's hand.

    Myra 'Brooks' Welch

    -Kevin
    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams …
    24" 2.4 Ghz iMac, OSX 10.4.10, MOTU 828 MKII, 2 Glyph 250 Gig external drives, Logic 9, Finale 2008 GPO, JABB, Strad, Gro, Reason 4, EWQL Storm Drum, Adrenaline, Symphonic Choirs, SO Gold,All Arturia Synths, Many NI Synths, Spectrasonics Synths, KH Strings, VEPro on a Windows 7 4x 2.8 Ghz 12 gig of RAM

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Re: make beautiful music with what you have

    Thank you for the post Dan. Something I need to keep in mind for those times when the unhelpful sight-loss thoughts start crowding in.

    Jim

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