• May 27, 2019

    I attended a concert in which two splendidly trained musicians played cello concerti by Beethoven and Grieg. It was enlightening to experience the difference in the compositions.

    The Beethoven communicated extraordinary order. What do I mean by order? There was a delightful balance between the two instruments, a dialogue in which one unfolded and revealed the other, coherence in the melody lines, evolution of the theme and reprise where it was needed. The concerto unveiled the intimate connection between order and beauty. In classical Indian philosophy, this is sattva (goodness, constructiveness, harmony).

    By order I do not mean the squared off, static nature of modern office buildings but rather the dynamic balancing and rebalancing of the elements which characterize living systems and real creative endeavour. Beauty requires order but not all order is beautiful.

    The Grieg composition was emotional and incoherent. Ideas were begun and abandoned without development. The two instruments were at odds with each other. The pace was feverish and every line seemed to end in higher volume. In Sanskrit, it would be categorized as tamas (darkness, destructive, chaotic).

    Perhaps this is a commentary on the possible range of the human condition?

    Do I give too much importance to emotion, by which I tend to mean passion? This rarely amounts to feeling; more often it reflects an intensity of sensation. The ‘higher emotions’ of clarity, order and beauty are perhaps too subtle to attract and hold my attention yet these are the ones most open to possible discovery and transformation. To apprehend these qualities, I must have order in myself. For this, certain music may be helpful.

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