Telemann, Schubert, Maugham

Tuesday, 8 July 1997, 10:42 am, Vancouver, BC

West End Community Centre

West End Community Centre (Photo credit: dejahthoris)

Yesterday I analyzed the components of the three seminars for the West End Community Centre winter session, and scheduled these. This went more quickly than I had anticipated, and compounded my earlier thinking on how to market these more extensively. I am quite keen on these, as the hiking seminar will need me to go out into the field; and, in parallel, the small business management course provides me with a framework upon which I can place research and application for my own business.

This notion of business development preoccupied my thoughts throughout the day, and all of my walk around the Seawall. The weather had deteriorated to rain by the afternoon, but I went out anyway, umbrella in hand, and had an enjoyable walk nonetheless. By the time I reached the bridge the rains diminished significantly, and soon stopped.

Georg Philipp Telemann. Engraving by Georg Lic...

Georg Philipp Telemann. Engraving by Georg Lichtensteger, c. 1745. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I find myself repeatedly taken by the invention and beauty of Telemann’s music, in which I find the stillness and quiet of Baroque life. A certain small grandeur that is more fully connected with the rest of the world than we are today in our noisiness. And the music is so well balanced. I marvel at the viola concerto, with its balances and gentle architecture. A world, then, without cars, motors of any sort, recorded music, television — and resplendent with birdsong, the hues of the natural light, and a clarity of sound and hearing that is lost to us now.

After dinner I read the score to Schubert’s Quarttet-Satz in c minor — a magnificent movement that depends more for effect on its triple piano and careful accenting and phrasing than on loud declamation. And then the score of the Quintet in C, D. 956, which, for the first time, struck me deeply with the breadth and beauty of its conception: the first movement’s massiveness, the rhythmic complexity of the second movement’s singing with its wonderful alternation of arco and chordal pizzicato in the first violin, and the hard strength of the third movement. Only the fourth movement do I not find up to the same quality: the thematic materials do not hold the same level of interest. But the process of being intent proves again that the better way to appreciate a piece for the first time is attentively, and not as a background to other activity. In Vienna, in Schubert’s day, the richness of such a piece would have soared through the quiet of the scene into the listener’s ear, heart, and spirit. And as the experience would be singular, and unrepeatable save if the players played again, such a contrast to other types of experience. We have lost, too, this contrast of aural texture, of types of experience; for we are cloyed with constancy of stimulation, with immediacy of contrast.

Beethoven house (1821-1823) at the Rathausgass...

Beethoven House (1821-23) at Rathausgasse, where the Missa Solemnis was written.

I found myself reflecting as the evening closed that perhaps it is better first to have a market than to have one’s creation. Even Beethoven marketed his Ninth Symphony and the Missa Solemnis. Mozart worked almost exclusively on commission. Telemann and Bach had paid appointments. Shakespeare wrote for the public coin. And I remember what I re-read recently in Maugham (— and which has taken me over half an hour to find, as I thought it in The Summing Up, whereas the idea is given in Points of View —):


W. Somerset Maugham

… writers quite naturally find themselves impelled to write the sort of things for which there is a demand…. The point I want to make is this: the nature of the vehicle whereby the writer approaches his public is one of the conventions he has to accept, and on the whole he finds he can do this without any violence to his own inclinations.

Points of View, The Short Story, pp. 148-150

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