Last night my mum came to Toronto and I took her to a Toronto Summer Music Festival concert to maybe help her relax a little before her upcoming trip. As you know I’m a trog about modern things, so the Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte from Shoenberg made me alternately laugh, yawn, think about what a dick Napoleon was, think about what a dick Byron was, think what a pity I could hardly hear a word of the Byron, which made me think that Shoenberg was a dick because dick though Byron may have been, the Ode is a fucking beautiful poem. And very apt at the moment.
Thine only gift hath been the grave,
To those that worshipp'd thee . . .
Anyways I hated the music and thought it was all wrong for the poem, and eventually sat there wishing I was listening to Eroica instead.
Then there was Mozart’s piano quarter in E-flat major, and the main thing that struck me about that was wondering why Mozart hasn’t been sainted. He made miracles, his music is a perfect reminder of the beauty of existence and God’s goodwill to man, so, uhm . . . there’s a serious problem, that he’s not a saint. It was just a pretty little piano quartet as far as Mozart goes and I believe I started crying a little. Fuck.
For me the big discovery of the evening was Dimitri Shostakovich, who I’d never even heard of before but whose piano quintet in G minor was just fucking lovely, and this from someone who’s very cheerful about hating modern classical or whatever the fuck you call that atonal rubbish. Mummy said it was neo-classical, which was why it was pretty. Fair enough. It was lovely enough for me to think tomorrow after she catches her plane I’ll find some Shostakovich to bring home. She seemed a little cheered by the concert, and actually broke into a fit of laughter over the following non-sequitur from the programme:
“In March 1941 it (the Shostakovich quintet) received the Stalin prize – the first year that the state’s highest honour for achievements in the arts and sciences was awarded. Three months later, on June 22, 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union.” (End programme)
We had a laugh about how obviously one action followed naturally on the other – it wasn’t about Hitler’s insane hate of Communists and Slavs – just a mad desire to nick the Shostakovich quintet. I hope I learn how to be more like my mum, and to laugh at non-sequiturs instead of be really annoyed by them. Anyways, now she’s doing some marking for the course she teaches at the college back home; I’ll take her out for grilled cow hearts later and hope for the best.