The Solo Traveller's View


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David Garrett: Ideal and Role Model

An attempted Analysis of a Musical Phenomenon – Part 2

So the question arises: Why did the gods shower this one person with such an abundance of their best gifts? What could have been their intention? That we should see him, and through him be reminded of them? That we should have an image of what man could be, and ought to become? Because at times David Garrett appears a messenger of the truly divine. Listening to him play Beethoven’s violin concerto may convince you of it. That he claims not to be religious is beside the point. There are those who insist that Mozart was not religious, yet his music proves the reality of heaven to all who have ears to hear.

Anyhow, the term ‘religion’ merely refers to our reconnection with the divine – nothing more nor less; a linking of our mind and soul to the godly world of beauty, goodness and truth. In that universal world of the spirit, our material world is embedded like ice floating in water: the same element, but in solid form. And of this invisible world the entirely non-material phenomenon of music has always been both message and evidence. That, I believe, is the reason why we enjoy, love and need music: It is a line of connection to our spiritual home.

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And isn’t this precisely what so many people (both male and female) respond to in the case of David Garrett? That he is clearly not descended from apes, but created in the image of a god? Like it or not – this is my personal conclusion regarding the wellspring of his near-universal appeal. Just go and see how often the sentiments ‘divine’, ‘god-like’ and ‘not from this world’ can be found among those YouTube fan comments:

“He is secretly Apollo. No doubt about it!” – “… plays divinely.” – “… like a god with a violin.” – “… his music is the language of God.” – “Me encanta, parece un ángel tocando el violin.” – “Wie ein junger Gott – als hätte er die Violine erfunden.” – “… transports me to another world.” – “… shows the beauty of paradise.” … And so on. You see my point.

Yet even David Garrett cannot please everyone, as becomes distressingly evident from those very same comments sections. There are usually a few people (mostly male, but not exclusively) who spew acrid bile in response, as if his light were casting a shadow into their soul. Let us be sincerely glad that David has neither the time nor the inclination to read these comments. Those declarations of love and those darts of hate do not reach him. He follows his passion for music with a mature attitude to criticism and a cool disregard concerning the views of those whose opinion matters not. For he has already earned the approval of all those whom he respects most, and that is sufficient.

64 Czardas

“Are the 172 people who disliked this video from ISIS?” one comment asks. It is indeed hard to imagine a mindset that responds negatively to so much beauty. Yet it exists, and the violence of its expression is worrying. That secret deposit of poisonous hate poses the question: What is it that could destroy David Garrett? Naturally one shies away from possible answers, for one wants him to be safe and to make music forever. Yet he himself wears a chunky memento mori on his finger, openly aware that all is temporary. Judging from his intense work schedule and his frequent travelling, a burnout or heart failure will be the likeliest threat as he gets older. It seems improbable that sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – figuratively speaking – will dig his grave, since he appears to be so sensible in his choices.

Often has it been said that women love a bad boy; but I suspect they love a good boy even more if he arrives in the shape of David Garrett. The rapacious debauchery of certain rock, sports and film stars does not compare at all favourably with the disciplined coolness he projects. Observe, for example, that he finds the idea of taking sexual advantage of his groupies distasteful; that at televised events he usually switches unobtrusively to water after a first, polite sip from the offered drink; and that he refused to be drawn into a discussion on the benefits of drug-taking for musicians, stating firmly that they were addressing the wrong person for insights on this topic.

All you mothers of sons: Weren’t your hearts swelling with gratitude at that moment? What a fearless role model! David Garrett makes sensible choices look desirable, and it doesn’t seem to be an act. While he certainly knows how to party, he is also aware that it impairs his ability to perform the next day and is not afraid to say so – and, more importantly, to act upon this insight. In his achievements, young people have inspirational proof that self-discipline, dedication and persistent practice are indeed the foundation and the price of deserved (and lasting) success … and, hallelujah, they are prepared to take note.

***

Note to the reader: Since writing the above, I have realised that spiteful slander is just as real a threat to David Garrett as it is to anyone who dares to rise above the commonplace. I should have liked him to be exempt from this hateful rule, but bright lights always cast dark shadows.

To be continued … We shall explore David Garrett’s Musical Magic next. If you click ‘follow blog via email’ you won’t miss it.

(All photographs are screenshots drawn from YouTube, for the purpose of illustration only. I trust the authors will allow this use of their picture material. No copyright infringement is intended.) 

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Salzburg

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Today, I wander about Salzburg’s inner city by myself. The morning sun on the buildings adds to their appeal as I soak up the atmosphere of this magical place. At this time of year the usual crowds of visitors from all over the world are still absent.

86_Fussbruecke

62_Bankhaus

50_St Peterskirche

48_St Petersfriedhof

The Getreidegasse, usually choc-a-bloc with tourists, is only loosely populated this morning. Rows of very chic shops in its arcades offer luxury goods; some in keeping with the place, others less so.

14_Kinder Trachten

15_Schmuck

09_Getreidegasse

Artistic signs, suspended above the shops, add a special touch to this long, narrow lane that runs between the river and the rock. At its centre is the house in which Mozart was born on the 27th January 1756. There are no queues at this time of year. After paying ten euros for a ticket, I climb the stairs to the third floor, where Mozart’s family lived at the time. These rooms are fairly large with low ceilings. Their white-washed walls show painted paragraphs in delicate grey lettering that describe the Mozarts’ lives in these quarters. Objects such as music scores, letters and a few personal belongings are displayed in glass-topped cases, and those well-known portraits of family members look down from the walls.

And then one enters the bedroom where he was born. Wooden floorboards, creaking slightly; bare, white walls, and a simple Kachelofen in the corner. Five black, slender pillars are installed along one side of the room, each containing a few relics in a subtly lit Perspex segment: locks of his hair, a ring, mother-of-pearl buttons and his embroidered silk purse amongst others. In the corner by a window, Mozart’s child-size violin is suspended in a glass case, floating above three words engraved in a brass plate below: Liebe, Leben, Licht – love, life, light. There I stand still, close my eyes and listen to his music, to the voices of piano and violin emanating from a hidden sound system and filling this simple chamber with the dimension of heaven.

Never one to participate in active fandom and so far unmoved by relics, shrines and autographs, I am suddenly gripped by a deep reverence – here, in the heart of this wonderful city where he was born. His music is my home on the road, my spiritual haven; and this city would have been my home too, had I been allowed to choose. I live in hope that I shall find my way, after death, to that realm in the universe where his music originates. But here, at this precise moment, I feel connected to it all.

56_Mozarts Geburtshaus

Later, as I look out across the River Salzach from the promenade, I am approached by an elderly lady – very elegantly dressed – who asks, “Sind Sie Salzburgerin?” (Are you from Salzburg?) Shaking my head, I reply, “Leider nicht – zu meinem unendlichen Bedauern!” (Unfortunately not – to my infinite regret!) And so it is.

26_Mozart Denkmal

Crossing the footbridge, I notice hundreds of colourful padlocks of all sizes, clasped to the wire mesh beneath the banister. Why are they here? No clue is given, but upon closer inspection I notice that each padlock bears two names or initials, often with a heart or a message like ‘In love forever’. It seems that couples commemorate their union in this way, in this place, instead of carving their names into the bark of a hapless tree. It is an appealing idea, attractive to look at and full of significance. What a pity that I have no one to share a padlock with! I briefly consider adding one with the name of the city, and mine; but experience has taught me to use ‘forever’ with caution.

07_Padlocks

Less pleasing are the beggars seated at intervals along the bridge and in the lanes of the old town. They seem to be from Eastern Europe, possibly Romania, and even to my inexperienced eye it is clear that these are not poor individuals who have fallen on hard times, but members of an organized gang. As so often, the women look a lot unhappier than their male counterparts as they brave the cold, kneeling on the tarmac in various poses of supplication, uttering plaintive words in German, “Bitte schön, schönen Tag, danke schön …” and holding out paper cups in the hope of moving the passers-by to a donation.

However, in six hours of wandering the streets, I do not witness a single instance where their pleading is successful. People avoid looking at them and give them a wide berth. I smile at one of these women and reply, “Einen schönen Tag auch!” without being tempted to fork out money which I know she will have to hand over to the boss. She returns the smile, glad to have been acknowledged, and when I pass her again later, she recognizes and greets me. Dark eyes in a dark face, friendly, and resigned to their fate …

Beggars are a new element in the mix of this city, and I am astonished by their numerous presence. Should such a foreign enterprise, so alien to this country and its culture, really gain a foothold here?

81_Festspielhaus

64_Stations of the Cross

Having crossed the river, I ascend a steep path that leads along the Stations of the Cross to the Kapuzinerberg. A little way past the old monastery, there is a small statue of Mozart. It marks the place where a wooden shack once stood, in which he is said to have composed large parts of ‘The Magic Flute’. On the pedestal are the lines: ‘Jung gross, spät erkannt, nie erreicht’ (early greatness, recognized late, never matched).

70_Kleines Mozartdenkmal

The woodlands up here are a nature reserve, and the view across the city is splendid. I sit on a bench and soak up the sun, squinting at the scenery from this new angle. And I love, love, love being here …

65_Hohensalzburg

… revelling in the uplifting effect this place always has on my soul. What is it about this city that pleases me so intensely it comes close to a physical sensation? The beauty of its buildings and the care with which they have been preserved certainly play a part. The eye, with its keen appetite for aesthetic pleasure, is served a banquet of tasteful vistas composed of elements that cannot help but appeal. Akin to Mozart’s music, this architecture speaks a universal language of beauty and heavenly harmony, speaks of a realm to which the soul, mired as it is in the depths of daily concerns, can rise in moments of awe and wonder. Here, in the heart of the city, there reigns a grandeur so far removed from the mundane and purpose-driven style of the suburbs, a historical splendour so steeped in the traditions of an age when beauty in tone, stone and manners was considered to be of supreme importance – it is impossible not to be enchanted.

66_Vom Kapuzinerberg