An attempted Analysis of a Musical Phenomenon – Part 15
Early on in your life you recognized beauty in all its forms as an expression of the divine, like truth and goodness. You admired beauty in the natural world, where it is easily found. You searched for beauty in man-made artefacts and the many guises of culture. But what touched you most of all was human beauty in appearance and character; and you became aware that, in people, true beauty is a rare and precious thing.
Though you have long searched for human beauty and encountered it before, even in the faces of men, not one ever showed such a high degree of perfection. This, a quiet voice sings in the depths of your mind – this is the face you have been waiting to see, without knowing. Now it has appeared within the radius of your awareness, its existence cannot be ignored. Like a temple that housed the ancient gods of Greece it must be built upon the pleasing proportions of the golden ratio, where every point, line and plane adds to the harmonious beauty of the whole and there is no angle that lessens its appeal.
“Este hombre es una de las cosas más hermosas que he visto.” – “The most beautiful and talented man in the universe. ” – “You are the most beautiful thing in the world when you are playing.” – “Tant de beauté … simplement extatique!” – “What beauty – without words.” – “Esse homem ilumina minha vida!” – “Quelle merveille de la nature, ce garçon!” – “In my eyes he’s perfection!” – “Aquí está el hombre más hermoso del mundo!” – “He is absolutely beautiful.”
Helen of Sparta (and later of Troy) must have had such an effect on men as the most beautiful woman of her time. Is it any wonder that similar archetypal beauty in a man should put females of all nations and ages into a spin? Well, at least they will not be starting a ten-year war on the pretext of his abduction …
Although David Garrett comes in the guise of a very contemporary, very likeable boyish man, you sometimes perceive in him a quality reminiscent of the heroes of history and legend. Yes, thankfully he is a musician and not a warrior – but, seeing him, you understand what moved Homer to sing in praise of Achilles. And is there not a touch of that same strong, personal appeal that must have compelled homesick and footsore soldiers to follow the great Alexander beyond the boundaries of the known world? Is it not what J. R. R. Tolkien describes so exquisitely when he tells us of Aragorn’s death: an impression that we are seeing something that goes a long way beyond the ordinary? And Tolkien tells us this in a sequence of words as beautiful as a perfect piece of music:
“Then a great beauty was revealed in him, so that all who after came there looked on him with wonder; for they saw the grace of his youth, and the valour of his manhood, and the wisdom and majesty of his age were all blended together. And long there he lay, an image of the splendour of the Kings of Men, in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world.”
A great longing for noble beauty in men (removed from mere sexual allure) runs like a golden thread through Tolkien’s writing. He may have been driven to invent the striking beauty of his heroes because he could not find it in real life. And because the longing for such beauty is echoed in all human souls, his work had such tremendous impact and still means so much to so many.
So does David Garrett, it seems. Yet his beauty is not invented. He lives his life encased in an appearance that, we may assume, can be both helpful and a hindrance at times. Helpful, because such beauty opens doors and hearts and makes him a welcome guest, friend, lover and companion. A hindrance, because it may get in the way of what lies beneath, of what he wants to express, maybe even of being taken seriously at times. And of course it gives rise to jealousy and hate as well as admiration and love.
Few faces are as well documented as David Garrett’s, and with good reason. Do you know which German personage has been most often portrayed in history? No, it is not the evil leader. It is Martin Luther, who, although not beautiful, was a great inspiration to his times and to those that followed. Yet in this age of photography and film it seems likely that David will soon take over Luther’s leading position – if he has not already done so. But who is counting?
Whatever situation David finds himself in, his beauty is there with him like a presence in itself. It sets him apart. And though he might like to disregard it and just be, be like other people, few will be able to pretend that he is. Because, whichever way you look at David, ordinary just isn’t part of his makeup.
It must be quite a task to come to terms with such an extraordinary condition; not unlike the very rich, who cannot know whether they are liked for their own sake or for their wealth. Experiencing himself from the inside only, David Garrett will probably never fully understand how his appearance affects the viewer, will never quite realize the devastation he may be causing unwittingly. Because to others, being a witness of such beauty can at times be painful. Why this pain, you ask yourself. Where does it stem from? Here’s a question not easily answered, yet Homer’s famous statement in the Iliad, “Beauty! Terrible Beauty! A deathless goddess – so she strikes our eyes …” proves that, however rare, it is not an unprecedented experience.
David Garrett’s face has been captured in many different looks as it matures through the years, and its changeable quality shows a surprising variety of aspects. After that first impact which took your breath away has faded, you notice with relief that one can, in time, grow more accustomed to his looks. Yet unexpectedly there will come a moment, an angle, a turn of his head, a portrayed smile that will stop you cold – and once again you will be catching your breath, wide-eyed and wondering. And no, this isn’t a matter of choice. Because it hurts. As that terrible goddess strikes your eyes, you find your awareness pierced with pain. But it is the pain that digs the well which joy fills, as a Middle Eastern saying tells us.
“Then a woman said, ‘Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.’
And he answered: Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow, that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’ But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy. Only when you are empty are you at a standstill and balanced. When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.” – Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
This beautiful paragraph may yet be the best answer to the question why the beauty that delights us also causes pain and sorrow. But David will not be aware of it, and it is surely best this way. Such an awareness would be too uncomfortable a burden to bear, and we want him to remain lighthearted and untroubled, doing what he does best: his MUSIC. Because, first and foremost, he is a source of shared delight; the joy that fills the well of those very souls touched by and aching with his beauty.
David Garrett has been gifted with an unusual degree of personal appeal, with a happy disposition and prodigious talent. But to turn that natural disposition into a good person, and to develop this talent to skill of the highest level – that is his own achievement. And, by way of fair exchange, the gift he returns to the world is his music: beauty for beauty.
We, looking on in admiration, feel gratitude for the fact that we may witness this beauty, feel this sorrow and this joy, and be moved by this music; for it reminds us of the grace of being alive, and of having good things to live for.