Sunday, December 25, 2011

Music is My Religion: A Jew's Thoughts on Christmas

Sunday, December 25, 1870 About this day, my children, I can tell you nothing—nothing about my feelings, nothing about my mood, nothing, nothing, nothing. I shall just tell you, dryly and plainly, what happened. When I woke up I heard a sound, it grew even louder, I could no longer imagine myself in a dream, music was sounding, and what music! After it had died away, R. came in to me with the five children and put into my hands the score of his "Symphonic Birthday Greeting." I was in tears, but so, too, was the whole household; R. had set up his orchestra on the stairs and thus consecrated our Tribschen forever!

The Tribschen Idyll—thus the work is called. — At midday Dr. Sulzer arrived, surely the most important of R.'s friends! After breakfast the orchestra again assembled, and now once again the Idyll was heard in the lower apartment, moving us all profoundly (Countess B. was also there, on my invitation); after it the Lohengrin wedding procession, Beethoven's Septet, and, to end with, once more the work of which I shall never hear enough! — Now at last I understood all R.'s working in secret, also dear Richter's trumpet (he blazed out the Siegfried theme splendidly and had learned the trumpet especially to do it), which had won him many admonishments from me. "Now let me die," I exclaimed to R. "It would be easier to die for me than to live for me," he replied. — In the evening R. reads his Meistersinger to Dr. Sulzer, who did not know it; and I take as much delight in it as if it were something completely new. This makes R. say, "I wanted to read Sulzer Die Ms, and it turned into a dialogue between us two."


Gary Freedman said...

The Larry David scene reminds me of something that happened to me in the 7th grade in Miss Joann Altus' English class at Wagner Junior High School in Philadelphia.

I did a book report, an oral presentation in front of the class, on a biography of Hitler.

A Jewish student (Alan Gompers?) was infuriated. He said to me "It's a disgrace for a Jew to give a report on a book about Hitler!"

Gary Freedman said...

And, yes, I really did attend a school named Wagner Junior High.

Gary Freedman said...

Wagner lived like a prince in a palace -- paid for by the taxpayers of Bavaria, whose king, Ludwig II, Wagner was swindling.

Don't get mixed up with artists!

Gary Freedman said...

A truly original piano arrangement of the Siegfried Idyll by Lang Lang: