Miss X is barely 20 but nevertheless a first class violinist. She’s Chinese, from a family of ambassadors, managers, doctors, politicians. I asked if any of her relatives were musicians and she said no, not a single one of them going back seven generations ever was involved in the arts. She’s the first in the family to break entirely new ground. And she intends to be a world-famous soloist, once she gets her masters and Ph.D. from a prestigious California university, and of course gets some performing experience behind her.
She sent me one of her audition CDs. I played it with just a touch of reluctance because I expected her performance would be amateurish and I would then be obliged to offer some kind and supportive comments. But her playing was utterly flawless. Especially the Paganini concerto. Hers was a precise execution informed by an emotional, nuanced interpretation beyond her years.
I took the disk to goldhands and asked him to tell me what he thought of the performance. I did not mention Miss X’s age, or background. Maestro put on the earphones and I qued up the Paganini track.
Maestro’s response was immediate and to the point: “Perfect!” he proclaimed. And he was surprised to learn she was a mere girl, just starting out.
Miss X and I carried on an IM correspondence for a while. I found it strange that she had virtually no interest in the life of the composers. For her it was just the music itself, independent of anything else. I gently suggested that if she were to become familiar with the masters’ histories, she’d likely be better able to convey the emotions that drove them.
“How so?” she asked.
“Well, all the assonance, dissonance and odd syncopation in Tchaikovski’s Pathetique might have sprung from the difficulties he was experiencing at the time he wrote that symphony.”
“I don’t know anything about that. What sort of difficulty?”
“Let’s just say that Pyotr Il’yich had a severe sexual identity problem.”
“You’re kidding me, right?”
“No. He was secretly gay but nevertheless married a woman. And he was profoundly traumatized by the whole thing.”
After a long, awkward silence Miss X said:
“I’m sorry, but I don’t think I want to continue this conversation.”
I thought that was the end of it, but there was a little bit more.
I told Maria (my very own Immortal Beloved) about Miss X’s audition CD, and also about the discussion of my theory of the benefits of biographism. Intrigued, Maria asked me for Miss X’s screen name. Why? Well, Maria thought it would be interesting to become acquainted with a highly talented 20-year-old Chinese musician, that’s why.
A few days later Maria reported that Miss X had been deeply offended by my absurd and wholly inappropriate ideas about composers, and she feared I might be some sort of whacked-out and perverted stalker. I mean, why does he bring up all that sexual stuff anyway?
And by the way, she said. That creepy old fart doesn’t know a damned thing about music!