Sunday, July 07, 2013


The Shed at Tanglewood
     In a conversation with Jean Sibelius in 1907, Gustav Mahler said that “a symphony must be like the world . . . it must embrace everything,” and it occurs to me that the same could be said of one’s life. Last night, Delycia and I went back to Tanglewood to hear Mahler’s 3rd Symphony, and the unbound and big-hearted music did, indeed, seem to hold in its arms both the loveliness and disarray of the world. It was as though Mahler wanted to welcome everything into his symphony – the pleasures and triumphs of the world, but also the disappointments and sorrows. There were stretches of pure majesty in the music, but there were also moments when the sounds seemed to collide and explode, as the parts of our lives sometimes do. I was thinking, as I listened, that I could be as accepting in making my life as Mahler was in making his music. Maybe I should think of my days as small and special symphonies, into which all the satisfactions and disasters, all the fun and failures of life, can be welcomed. I could, in a strange way, be another Mahler, making my own magnanimous music each day, greeting the good and the bad and bringing it all somehow into a song – not as majestic, certainly, as Mahler’s symphony, but just one guy’s song about the dearly loved outlandishness of his little but beautiful life.

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