Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Symphonie Chapter One


Movement One
Allegro Con Brio

01     It was twenty minutes to eight when he was seated.

Always impatient when the Ninth Symphony* was in the program . . . he was trying to read the background of the four soloists singing that evening: alle menschen werden bruder . . . all men should be brothers.  His eyes focused on the paper, but his mind flew . . . far, far back . . . far, far away.

It was 1977 when, for the first time, he was attending a live performance of the Ninth Symphony in his homeland, Iran.  The Roudaki Hall was the only opera house in the capital city of Tehran, and the Tehran Symphony Orchestra performed there as well.  He loved the orchestra and the artistic director and conductor, Farhad Meshkat. 

When the lights were dimmed, he was back in the hall, the beautiful home of the Symphony Orchestra of his town; he loved it so much.  Row one, right at the centre.  He had kept the habit of sitting in the first row from his youth . . . just loved watching the conductor, the soloist, and the front row strings very closely although the overall sound was not the best there.

He also loved the artistic director of the orchestra, Maestro Bernard Torney, but that evening, a young guest was conducting the symphony.  The concertmaster** entered, the principal oboe played La (A), and all musicians started to do the final fine tuning of their instruments.  The young conductor then came onstage.

The strings started the opening tremolos.  He shut his eyes trying to swallow each note.  But the hallucination started again . . . went back, back.  His life was like a novel: the sweet years of youth, careless laughters, colourful lights, and love . . . all before the Islamic Revolution.  He was studying civil engineering when the Revolution started in 1978 and the universities were all closed.

The chorus rose at once.  He was hallucinating during all first three movements.  Beethoven switched the slow movement (conventionally the second) and scherzo (conventionally the third).  He also used solo timpani in scherzo just like opening his violin concerto with solo timpani in the first bar. 

Two years later, after the victory of the Islamic rebels over the 3000 years of monarchy in Iran, the universities were re-opened.  He finished his degree.  But soon after, the war started, against the blood-thirsty Saddam of Iraq.  People said it would come to an end soon, but it lasted eight full years with 500,000 young innocents killed and even more disabled.  People thought it could only happen in the movies: waiting for missiles, rockets, and chemical weapons several times a day flying over the heads.  Ah…thank God, it was another neighbourhood; we are fine . . . only until the next missile.  It was like a Russian roulette!

The third movement was a beautiful theme followed by several variations.  This could be one of the most beautiful slow movements of Beethoven’s if the great choral finale was not to come, making the audience impatient.

It was the sacred moment he loved so much, when the long introduction of the finale with all those flash backs to the previous movements ends and the chorus rise with a mysterious sound like a storm.  And thus sings the baritone***: O freunde, nicht diese tone . . . Oh friends, not these tones!  Rather, let us raise our voices in more pleasing and more joyful songs . . . Joy!  Joy!

Now his eyes were wide open!  Browsed the strings, left to right . . . right to left and again left to right . . . God, what a pair of beautiful legs!  Moved his head up, upper . . . who was that beautiful lady in the violas section?!  She was gorgeous.  How come he had never noticed those shining eyes?  The strings of his heart started vibrating in harmony with the chorus: Freude schooner gotterfunken, tochter aus Elysium . . . alle menschen werden bruden, wo dein sanfer flugel weilt.  Joy!  Beautiful spark of divinity.  All men should be brothers, where your gentle wing rests. 

One thing he knew for sure: he had to find that violist!

He drove home like crazy in fifteen minutes.  You bet no one could do it faster, from the concert hall to North parts of the metro town.  He fixed a glass of Margarita and took a slice of pizza left over from the night before.  Patience!  Patience!  O heart!  Stop beating as if you are a teenager’s!

He wanted to pretend—to himself— that he was patient and that nothing new, nothing out of ordinary life, had happened.  Very slowly opened his laptop, but then quickly and directly started the website of the orchestra.  He knew what he wanted.  With no more patience opened the page “The Orchestra”, then a new window “The Musicians” . . . first violins . . . second violins . . . violas . . . principal . . . assistant . . . yes, got it. 

Her name was Julia.  She was an emigrant from South America.  She had studied violin with her mother, but then continued studies in performing music to a Master’s degree in viola from a well-known university of the town.  She then joined the orchestra; that was ten years before; and now she was in her late thirties.

The photo was not that good.  He thought it might have been an old picture.  It showed her with dark brown hair, but the image recorded in his mind was a curly blonde—gold hair that so beautifully framed her sweet smile.  But late thirties; is she not too young?  He was in his early fifties.  He used to joke about his age when talking to friends: consider each year of the war equal to twice the calendar year and then, by calculation, I am sixty-two!  And he was.  Kind of!  He felt tired, at the end of his rope.  There was nothing to make him excited.  Or was there?

* Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in d minor, Op. 125, ‘Choral’.  In general, a symphony has four parts each called a movement.  Italian words are most widely used to demonstrate the tempo (speed) of each movement.  ‘Allegro’; for instance, means fast, and ‘con brio’ means lively.
** Concertmaster, generally the first violin player left to the conductor, is the lead of a symphony orchestra, responsible for the final tunings of all instruments before the conductor comes onstage.
*** Human’s voice in a choir is divided to six groups: soprano, the highest female; mezzo-soprano, mid female; and alto, low female voice; tenor, high male; baritone, mid male, and bass, the lowest male voice.

Any similarity with the names of real persons and places is totally incidental.

Symphonie, Chapter Two

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