Most people are familiar with the clichéd expression “when life gives you lemons…make lemonade.” Apart with my lack of understanding why it was always lemonade and never a pie/salad dressing/marinade (which i personally would much prefer)…I have never understood why “if” is always used and not “when,” because in all honesty…everyone will get their “lemons.” Sure, some are worse than others (like herpes/marrying into the Kardashian family/tornados) but everyone at one at some point or another looks at their hand and realizes they were dealt one or two cards they would rather not have.
Maybe its because it causes pain…or because its utterly inconvenient or it makes you realize a truth you would much rather keep avoiding. Like that the career you have planned for yourself is a mistake…and that you have to go back to your family (who financially supported you when you got a cello that is worth more than all the family cars put together) and tell them that your heart is no longer in it and hasn’t been for a while.
No…I am not abandoning music. My soul would die if that happened…I am just abandoning performance. I will still play and practice…but my lemon was a mixed blessing. “When life gives you a crazy hard class on Mahler, you become a hermit.” Then i discovered i was good at score analysis and biographic work…and scarier yet that i loved it. And so here we are.
I will still keep talking about cello…of course…and have decided to write a comprehensive encyclopedia of all cello literature (a listing of all music written for cello…with relevant composer biographical data/structural analysis/thematic index and lasting role in the literature) which i do fully understand is batshit insane…i really do.
But interspersed in the future will be a serialized Mahler listening guide. I cant tell you how many people have asked me for suggestions on which symphonies to listen to or why Das Lied is so sad or was Alma really a sleep-around sue (check out her actual obituary if you need the proof). So as a nod of appreciation to my Mahler class for changing my life and in hopes of never having to explain what is going on in symphony 7 again…consider it my gift to you.
Now i curl up in bed with Taruskin’s “The Oxford History of Western Music, Vol. 1” and read myself to sleep…and all feels at peace in the world. Happy listening, internet.