This is the follow up to my initial part of The Clipped Hussar series, when I introduced our hero. The Twins are a series of characters she will encounter along her way.
When designing characters, the trend skews toward singular heroes that survive and operate independently. This was an exercise in creating a duo whose functions were co dependent, two parts of a whole. The premise was simple: one acts as the muzzle of a musket and the other acts as the hammer. Hopefully the personality of that dynamic comes through.
“The Op. 8 Serenade for string trio, published in 1797, is music for a light evening’s entertainment in a social setting, or for amateurs to play. Carloads of such serenades, cassations, divertimentos, Nachtmusiks, and notturnos were published and played in the late 1700s, but they are little known today. Aside from a few repertory staples by Mozart, most of them are charming but unmemorable, and the only ones that get played in concert now are by composers who are famous for other reasons. Beethoven composed less light music, and enjoyed it less, than most composers. The Serenade is graceful, attractive music, but lacks the gripping musical ideas that make so much of Beethoven’s music unforgettable.
There are nonetheless some of the features that got Beethoven a reputation for trying too hard to be novel and unusual, and clever touches that mark the Serenade as the product of a giant at play. In the March that begins and ends the work, the cello occasionally finds itself playing four 16th notes against three 8th notes in the upper parts, which is more rhythmic complexity and ambiguity than a march needs. The Minuet begins with a bang and ends with a few plucks, and the slow movement is interrupted by a half-minute-long scherzo in which the violin and viola scamper daintily while the cello pounds away impatiently.
There are foreshadowings of the later Beethoven. The Andante quasi allegretto is a set of variations on a theme that he later turned into a song titled “Sanft wie die Frühlingsohne” (Soft as the Sun in Spring), and the short-short-short-long motif that Beethoven used so often in his “Middle period” works - most famously in the Fifth Symphony - makes an early appearance in the March.”
The roar of a car bomb has been the prelude to Karim Wasfi’s performances of late.
The renowned conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra has been appearing at the sites of explosions across Baghdad. Just hours after attacks, Wasfi can be seen seated amid ash and rubble in a black suit jacket, long hair combed back, playing his cello. For him, this combination of music and place has become a form of resistance.
Cause it’s always nice to know that you’re not alone, and that it happens to the best of us.
I have to start out the list with Glenn Gould *fans self with hands* who considered audiences evil (literally) : “I detest audiences. I think they are a force of evil.” But hey, he left extensive recordings so I won’t complain.
Vladimir Horowitz *dreamy sigh*, famous pianist known for his ability to enthrall audiences, retired from performing publicly several times due to severe stage fright.
Then there’s the unforgettable tenor Andrea Bocelli. In an interview with Tom Bryan, he discloses that stage fright never goes away: “It always happens and it’s a big problem. Everything that’s simple suddenly becomes unbelievably complicated. It’s almost a disease. (…) It has nothing to do with how many times you’ve been on stage. It’s something that accompanies you for all your life.
Pablo Casals, cellist, told his interviewer Josep Maria Corredor in Conversations with Casals: “Nerves and stage fright before playing have never left me through-out the whole of my career. Can you realize that at each of the thousands of concerts I played at, I felt as bad as I did on that first occasion?”
Adolf Henselt, also a pianist, considered by many to be on the same level as Lizst, was “terrified of the public”. Schonberg writes in his book Great Pianists: “When playing with an orchestra, (Henselt) would hide in the wings until the opening tutti was over, rush out and literally pounce on the piano. On one occasion he forgot to put aside the cigar he was nervously chomping - this was in Russia - and playing the concerto cigar in mouth, smoking away, much to the amusement of the Czar. The mere thought of giving a concert made him physically ill.” (Honestly, the cigar part makes me giggle)
Renee Fleming *heart eyes emoji*, American soprano, admits frankly to have dealt with stage fright. In an interview with Imogen Tilden she says: “I have had a very difficult time with stage fright; it undermines your wellbeing and peace of mind, and it can also threaten your livelihood.”
There are so many more who belong on this list: Argerich (who once cut her finger in order to cancel a performance), Bolet, Rubinstein, CHOPIN… Just know that if they - the greats - went on stage, performed so spectacularly, so unforgettably, despite their fears… you can too.