The Solo Traveller's View


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.


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.

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“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.




What is it about David Garrett?

An Attempted Analysis of a Musical Phenomenon – Part 1

Valentina Babor, the young German pianist, says of David Garrett that he is “exceptional as a musician and as a person.” – She knows him. I don’t. The purpose of this essay is to explore her statement further.


By way of introduction, let me say that in fifty years I have never once put anyone’s poster on my wall and have never sought an autograph; that being a fan is not in my nature and becoming a groupie out of the question. The stars in the musical skies of my youth were John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Robert Plant, Sting, Peter Gabriel and Bob Marley – all alive and well. I loved their music and felt their appeal, understood why girls screamed or swooned – but didn’t.

Never having been a moth to anyone’s flame, how come I’m up late these nights, watching scores of YouTube clips of David Garrett and reading pages of interviews? Those who do this, I’ve discovered, identify themselves collectively as ‘DG Insomniacs’ and are, I suppose, a growing group. I never responded to the discovery of a musician with such interest before, though I did research a fair few in my time. (Note: My great favourite is Mozart. He is the one I know – and love – best, and nothing will change that. Be assured, if there were live recordings of him on YouTube, I’d be watching those.)

I only became aware of David Garrett’s existence in the autumn of 2015. Zapping lazily through the channels one night, I spied him on a German talk show where he was promoting his new album and was instantly mesmerized: Who is that? With this question began my quest to explore the nature of this musician. For what I had heard was thrilling, what I had seen delightful – and both to such an unusual degree that it could not be ignored.

Through scores of interviews, both written and recorded, a picture began to form of David Garrett’s story. I listened carefully to his words; and though my ears were keenly prepared to find them, there were never any wrong notes on his part, though there were some among the interviewers. I mean, for instance, that David-Beckham-of-the-Violin tag. Puh-leeeze, really? Just imagine that other David kicking a violin about … So what if they share a name, good looks and fame. It remains a skewed analogy, not worth repeating.

But, musicianship and good looks aside, what struck me instantly was what an unbelievably nice guy this David is. Not a trace to be found of meanness, of ignorance, conceit or arrogance. Instead, a loving nature of such strong and immediate appeal that the impact is best described by quoting an often repeated fan comment: “He takes my breath away.” – This statement is repeated in many languages and with slight variations throughout the comment sections below his YouTube material.

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What would David Garrett be without his violin? – Just an extraordinarily good-looking man. And what would he be without his looks? – Just an exceptional musician. But he, favoured by fortune, is both. He enchants our eyes as well as our ears, and through them our hearts. And, as if that were not enough and this combination of blessings not more than any mortal could hope for, he also has such personal charm: a beguiling mixture of kindness, sensitivity and tact, of diffidence, modesty and politeness. These qualities (uncommon and unexpected in celebrities) expose one to a riptide of admiration, of adoration. It is even more endearing that David himself seems quite unaware of his effect and – whenever it is mentioned – shrugs with embarrassment and attaches little importance to it.

I’m sure that those who know David personally could complement this list with a few less noble characteristics. He is very human, after all, and himself has named obstinacy, hardheadedness and impatience as his less agreeable traits. These, however, cannot be found in the YouTube material my research is limited to.

But wait … there is more! On insomniac trawls through the abundant video material I successively discovered other delightful qualities: David Garrett has a quick-witted sense of humour and the comical talent of a true entertainer. He expresses a lively intelligence with a philosophical bent that makes him look at life in a way that, at times, seems wise beyond his years. What he has to say about his background, his life and his projects is actually interesting. He radiates positive energy, has mastered the difficult art of self-discipline and solved the conundrum of how duty and freedom are related. Being alone does not frighten him, and he credibly displays a complete lack of desperation where female companionship is concerned. The first, great love of his life is music, after all, and he will never lose that.


So, yes – all of these findings show that Valentina Babor’s assessment is spot-on: David Garrett is indeed exceptionally exceptional. Fan comment: “Amazing person! Why are there so few people like him in this world?”