As we become still and look

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My tarot reading last week – see Aquariel

Thrice Great Hermes said, “For never … can an embodied soul that has once leaped aloft, so as to get a hold upon the truly Good and True, slip back into the contrary.”

This is a profound Law.  Note he said ‘embodied’.  He didn’t say ‘without the body’ (as in trance or nirvana).   He said in effect, Leap with hands and feet into the heart of God.  That is an osmotic shift in the atom of human consciousness as a whole.  The membrane, the veil is semi-permeable.  There is no way the sap of the Tree of Life can run back downward.  The ascension pulls it through the cells;  a vacuum which it must follow and flow into.  Once you are through, you know that everyone comes through it sooner or later.   There are certain old clothes which are impossible to wear.   Love is no longer a thing of the movies.

 

Considering Chopin whom I am starting to sketch … his music was and is pure female opera song:  his unique ability to let them out of his bag;  his passion for singers, their lovely companionship and their voice which did such things.  Perhaps he might admire but could not love a woman who did not sing?  George Sand was probably not a singer (or perhaps she was?) – she called a spade a spade; her yang complemented his yin;  they may have had deep Karmic business in their attraction field.  One of the two sketches I did last night, while watching this video, is from hers of him.  From their liaison in Majorca came the tender Preludes which I used to play and to love dearly.  I have an old recording of Arrau playing them.  In one of them he throws a fiery tantrum, and my father used to mimic in falsetto George’s shock:  “Frederick!”

The journey up the Tree of Life through osmotic membranes is continuous, and there are obstacles – veils or resistances, a sort of grey chaos like my head-cold just now, through which the flowers spike their way.  These things come in waves.  When an inner contact is brewing, it brings some obscuring resistance to clear or blast off.  Through the snot and tissues, the irrepressible florets … make a baby sneeze.   The rising sap is a fountain of little fishes.  Not one of them can turn round and go back to the sack.   When the One which is ‘I’ reaches egg … PRESTO bellissima!   Nothing is EVER the same again.

Generally speaking, the course of life is a series of these small hiccups.  Perhaps jnana  (wisdom) is a state where they all join up and nothing is the same again EVER, and it is always like this:  the living and dying and letting go.   Robert Adams in Arizona looked like this.   He had no teeth when he said, “it has no end.  No end.”

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I imagine the extra terrestrial intelligences which interweave with ours, have that form of expansion which to us is liberation.  I imagine they move with our magidim and guardian angels easily, for the wavelength doesn’t limit the concepts.   The Presence of the aumakua varies only by local interest from galaxy to galaxy.   Holding my coloured lamp which invites them and rebuffs tricksters, I imagine them freely filling the spatial interstices in the room.   I may not have the gift of seeing their forms, but perhaps I can converse receptively with their mystery.

Fred Hoyle wrote a novel (1950s) of a close approach to Earth, of this kind.  When it connected to the intellectual brain only, it drove it insane.  The acceleration which is pure Consciousness can however be contained in the breathing heart body:  the heart or solar plexus mind (awakening silence which loves).

In this light, what is the accelerative frequency which plagues the human engineering at the present time, and where can it be accommodated?   Food for thought!

It drives many of us insane, particularly those whose incentive is to destroy their neighbours and environment.  These processes are cosmic eyeblinks; we endure their unfolding for decades and sometimes centuries.  Into their unfolding the threads of millennia are drawn.   Nothing of what is seen today can be interpreted unless we rise above it and get some glimpse of the landscape from elevation.   The landscape looks like the Andean Nazca lines, criss-crossing the ridges and plateaux.   To read this map would require a four-dimensional understanding of acupunctural meridians or the nadis of yoga, applied to the leylines of earth and through history’s points of intersection.   An acceptance that the map is of that dimension assists the contact of Higher Mind with a tiny bee in the earth hive.   Most accounts of Self knowledge say we should fall open into knowing nothing.   Then that by which I am known, can get to work.

Meister Eckhart said, “God does his deepest work in the soul when she is at rest.”  

The alchemical maxim is: Art begins where nature ceases to act.  The Hermetic soul begins where human intellect lets go.   I could study books about Nazca lines and Nadis, but I don’t wish to fill up my thought again with issues whose complexity generates karma by psychological default.  I now see clearly the last twenty years since I suddenly downloaded a lot of knowledge and started to see.   The light ‘grounded’ through some intense liaisons.   It had to materialise.

In the olden days, the rishis sat under trees and went about their lives and adored the sunrise and their cows:  their loving heart saw and knew the All, because it is in our DNA.  This faculty has not changed, deep down.   The sensitive veins to it are reopened, by keeping quiet.   This is what the alchemists call, “the miners of the mountains”.   It is all within us when we become still and look.

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Aruna is red fire,
Achala is standing still,
becoming a sacred hill, Arunachala, kind to kine
whose milk is the morning stream from Vedic stars.

The cow in Vedic hymn is sacred, pure light 
milked in pail by Upanishadic seers,
and a drove of cattle clouds at dawn, are gods 
that glow around her rising star.

In countless tales
the un-created cracked the sky;
but my silence of no angel’s feathers 
is drawn to see or sense
small feathers fall in place,
whether or not resolving.

1999, Poems of Eclipse

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It is the human predilection on the surface to keep busy.  That is OK.  Our bodies and our skills need location and exercise. Ramana Maharishi used to say that for those born in the west, to have to live the busy western mindset was their Sadhana or spiritual practice.  For those born in the east, their Sadhana was through ashram discipline along Yogic paths.  I sense the interplay and often collision of the western and eastern paths, permeated now by communication technology.  Blavatsky brought them together in the 19th century;  J Krishnamurti lived the way the eastern and western ways ‘clap hands’.

Yet further east I hear the koan:  sound of one hand clapping.  Koans are designed for the mind’s habit to fall apart; and the existential koan is Love.

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A Walk with Easter Bluebells

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Happy Easter!  On a long walk in Hertfordshire with camera – which cannot capture that deep purple fiery glitter coming through the ground, so let’s just imagine it.

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World turns upside down: sky through the ground

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Sky, earth, water

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living creature

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living body

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worlds meet: as above so below

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tuning fork

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like a bow

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relationship, dancers

tingly tangle!

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landscape every which way

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Friend’s astrology on the Tree of Life

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**

My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.  See also Aquariel

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2017. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

Sketches of Pallas Athene

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athene's owl

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Athene was the Greek warrior goddess.  She might correspond to India’s Durga.  Her magnificent grey eyes were filled with light;  she came across the seas, larger than life, to inspire Perseus and other heroes on their dangerous odyssey. She lent them her weapons, her bearskin and Hermes’ gold sandals and cloak of invisibility.  Her creature is the Owl.  May her wisdom be our courage.

When I was a child, reading Charles Kingsley’s The Heroes, I copied out my favourite pages from the tale of Perseus and the Gorgon – how we face our shadow –  and illustrated them.  Botticelli’s allegorical painting of Pallas Athene and the troubled man who is half a horse, puzzled me.

I had last year in the back of my mind’s eye, Athene’s face as she strokes the centaur’s head.  When I was small, my grandmother must have told me the story, because always since then, I hear her crisp voice explaining this picture, perhaps she talked to me about the shield and the bearskin and the centaur and the spear.  Later, I learned to read.   An archetype behind my grandmother’s presence – the true picture (like a Botticelli or Leonardo) -transcends the suggestive physical form. The Presence of that art stood subtly behind Helen Ede’s face, her flavour and her voice.

Each child has a special feeling for her grandmother perhaps.  This is my own.

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The painting by Sandro Botticelli

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One of my versions, in 1987.  I too was on my inner journey …

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… to mend my dolls.

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I set forth into life, with Athene’s blessing and Hermes’ sandals

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Do I learn from books, or do I really look and see?  Wake up!

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Here are Ceres and John, the deep unfolding bud within Revelation.

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When I did this drawing – copying Botticelli’s – towards the end of last year, the allegory or mystery within it came up to the touch. She seems to raise the human animal body with all its memory and mythos, through levels of awakening:  they behold one another, astonished.  I particularly enjoyed drawing the centaur.

It was very difficult for me to draw Athene. When she at long last began to look like a goddess (not Botticelli’s look-like, but in her own right) I became deeply interested in the Centaur.   With him, the painting’s archetypal resonance emerges.  He is the daemon, the living creature of the woods:  his face is twisted like a root:  he is as we were when the Spirit world still shone through our irregular features –   a tall, noble, careworn personage, Cheiron who guided the Argonauts from his cave on Mount Pelion.  In the original Botticelli, he looks tall and spacious, but when I try to draw him, I discover his horse-body is a Shetland pony – short legs and haunches at the level of Athene’s knees.  So his distortion and its strange natural beauty in the Botticelli is curious:  the man body is long and powerful:  the horse body small and sturdy.

Try to imagine him here in this room:  great Devic man of the woods on a little Sheltie’s short legs which (relatively) scuttle him along like a small dog.

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Version 2

I always imagined Centaurs as the proud neck of great stallions who leap fallen trees and rocks effortlessly, read the stars and regard bipeds with disdain.  This one’s human body is outsize. Athene in my drawing is super-human size, she has very big feet.  She is a goddess.  I used to love the leaves and flowers on her shining dress.  Her face was rather grown up and sorrowful.  In my rendering, it is sensual like a female Pan, an awakened child, a bit like Botticelli’s earthy angels.  She gazes wonderingly at the Centaur creature whose dark locks of hair she strokes – in my drawing she might pull his hair, gently draw him up to her height, to be seen.   She seems to unmask nature.   Her presence and touch lifts him from small pony body (or cart-horse) to the godlike stature of human, and still he is uncoiling from his shy woodland state:  he shields himself like Adam and Eve:  he twists like an old tree. His eyes and consciousness do not know what or Who this is, that lifts, shines and troubles him.

The allegory is now clear to me.  Like the Birth of Aphrodite, it is another portrait of Renaissance in the collective soul-body at the time.   I am fascinated by his daemon woodiness and the idea that in any sylvan glade in the woods, these two might emerge through transpositions of the light.

In the painting they are on the shore of a lake by a temple; in the distance behind them sails a little boat. In my mind’s eye they are deep in the woods, among the trees. My early impress of childhood awakens to a transformed sound:  as I began to draw the Centaur, I heard and felt the ‘quickening’ in my body.  It is easier and a relief to draw his battered face than to try to represent a Botticelli beauty … I had a long struggle with her.  He is of the curled roots and loamy sharp smells of the woods.  Pan-like, he gives me his energy.

Like when I copied Botticelli’s Primavera Mercury some years ago, I understand God’s ‘twist’ and brush-stroke in our design, which we endure:  body’s spiral movement – face’s anxious uplift – essential in the overall design to support it like a pillar, like Atlas.

QLF49 Mercury April allegory.JPG

Mercury – Hermes – copy after Botticelli’s Primavera

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A week or two later, I did the same drawing, this time with my left hand.  Why?  Because my left hand – the surfacing subconscious or feminine, has not yet acquired bad habits.  It is less facile, so it is aware.  The lines come from within, slow, sensitive and deliberate, I seem to see where they should go.  I didn’t have to erase much.

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Centaur and Athene after Botticelli – drawn with left hand

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Athene herself looks amazed at what she uncovers.  It is related to her allegories of unmasking with Perseus and the Gorgon, and to my feeling with this drawing.  Her shield and bears-head and owl are not visible, but all are implied in her raising of the Centaur to the light.   In my right-hand version, there wasn’t much room on the paper to draw her big axe-head on the staff she holds, and there was no room at all for the Centaur’s bow.

Centaurs are the Sagittarian Archer.  Traditionally the Sags are small, dark and lithe, and swift with their arrows which travel far … until they reach the Saturn field of Capricorn.   In winter there is this tidal pressure and restraint:  centrifugue and centripetal movement, Jupiter and Saturn across the Tree:  winter.

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Aphrodite comes ashore with shadow.

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Hear the sea.  Walk in the sand.

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**

Copy of Sandro Botticelli's self-portrait detail from "Adoration of the Virgin"

Copy of Sandro Botticelli’s self-portrait detail from “Adoration of the Virgin”

My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2017. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

The Mellowing

Woodland 1986

Woodland 1986

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Walking in the beech woods near Great Missenden, I was thinking about being the childhood, and I wrote this down:

jane & quince at ventonwyn copy

Elder age is not only four
hop skip jump,
but the Mellow
just as good.

No repeat
but savour
through and through
the NOW

my elder age’s
same unlettered quality
to find itself
not a drag!

What a gem. It came when I bent down to see what it is like to be just child-high off the ground. And then stood tall again. It isn’t about recapturing that odd, rhapsodic little girl physically and interiorly. The whole organism is by now as different as a fruit tree from the sapling. The organs and pulses and hormones and appearance are changed. The pressure of life in children and kittens and lambs makes them skip irrepressibly, enchantingly.   (It still skips in me at 67). The pressure of life in we older folk has a slower tempo, the character of a river rather than mountain brook … which carved its way … the same ESSENCE unbrokenly unique.   The way to enter the stream is here now.

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little boy by the sea 1954

little boy by the sea 1954

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Childhood is full of hassle – growing pains and hateful grownups and bad dreams and tedium and fear and need. Elderhood is full of hassle – just the same. It isn’t about what I become, it is being.   Savour the slow distillation at this point: river of leaf mould, sky and rain, river great snake slipping along its curving channel, the revelation turns discreet, subtle and lingering, an old wine.   It has to find its way through anxious mental arteries and conditioned stone walls and erratic absence and getting weary & cross. The marvel and mystery is here for the looking, and I love it so.

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Little girl in a meadow, 1955

Little girl in a meadow, 1955

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The mellowing. The living mystery is in the mellowing.   The child’s ferment is the bouquet in the elder one. You need a trained palate to really taste the wine: to become still where the child goes skip hop.   And then it takes you by the sea!

I’m reminded of Yehudi who played the violin perfectly when he was a little boy. When he grew up he lost it (terrifyingly) and had to learn how to do it: fingering, posture, technique, tone, bowing and behaviour.   He became a great humanitarian and yogi, and a musical ambassador for peace.

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Yehudi Menuhin joyously 1986

Yehudi Menuhin joyously 1986

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This tells me that the creature the child grows up into has a special responsibility and value, because he or she does and is all kinds of things that the eternal inner child could not yet. Life is not just easy, at any stage of the game.

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Red roofs, Cornwall, 1956

Red roofs, Cornwall, 1956

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Elisa & Mary in Iona - 2016

Elisa & Mary in Iona – 2016

**

My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2014. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

Character in Birdsong – by Peter Adams

Among my late father’s writings, I found two essays to post here in his memory, this one on Bird-songs, and another: ‘Mutterings from a Back Desk’ (among first or second violins in the orchestra). His acute ear pleases me. I shall post his ‘Back Desk thoughts‘ later this week, in my other blog, Aquariel.  (now done)

Peter died on 19 February at 93.  I was with him as he went ‘through the opening door’.  What a moment with a parent to share:  in his own words – ‘as into the Now, I bow.’  We planted him in a green churchyard in the North Devon countryside, with his Yule ancestors.  Rest in deep peace.  “Fare forward voyager!” … This which he used to say, is from Eliot’s four quartets.  Not farewell, but fare forward..

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Peter inspects the field 2014

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Character in Birdsong (1952-3)

Often the calls and songs of birds evoke a startlingly clear atmosphere; the long crooning purr of the nightjar brings to mind still summer nights never quite dark.  The middle distant call of a partridge like the creaking of an un-oiled hinge suggests the hayfield in the evening.  Often these sounds can spring the catch of memory.  At all times and especially in lonely moments, bird song can be a part of life, and not just a background to it.

There are many people who take an interest in birds and enjoy watching them, yet really few can enjoy the songs in the same way.  This is strange, for it is so much easier to hear a bird singing than to see it.  The voice of the nightingale may be clearly audible half a mile away, and yet half an hour of search may give no more than a glimpse of the brown body slipping across a freckle of sunlight in a thicket.  For the lazy man there can be few pleasures to surpass lying back in the sun just listening to the birds.  And the ear when trained can give as much pleasure as the eye.

To name is to create interest, and recognition of the different songs and sounds is the first step.  Like most beginnings it is the most difficult, but whenever a little progress has been made, the fresh delight of hearing among the mesh of woodland sounds a known bird-song and of being able to listen to it as an individual will whet the appetite.  Concentrated and accurate listening are the requirements necessary to distinguish between the varying bird sounds until they are known so well that the mind automatically hears, recognises and criticises the songs while the body is intent upon some other task.  This is the aim, to know and enjoy without effort whatever birds are singing at any time.

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wood bird yantra

wood bird yantra

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Certainly the easiest way to learn bird songs is to hear a song and see the bird singing it.  To see is to believe, but it is usually far more difficult than just hearing and often demands more effort.  In many cases it is not essential.  Imaginative reading of word-pictures can enable the keen mind to recognise a bird note never before heard. ‘The Charm of Birds’ by Grey and the writings of W.E.Hudson contain some of the best descriptions of bird sounds in an extensive literature.

Bird-songs differ in four main ways.  To take the simplest first, there is the manner in which the bird sings and its position while singing.  Many birds sing from a perch.  The starling finds the chimney pot useful as a stand for his useful collection of clicks and chuckles, his wheezings and his imitative notes;  a clown’s song.  Mistle-thrushes sing from the top of a tree leaning into the wind, and song-thrushes sit higher and sing longer than blackbirds.  The robin sings from a lower perch and changes it fairly frequently.  Like many of the smaller birds, wrens and dunnocks sing quite spontaneously as they move about.  The lark is easily recognised, his song raining down from that high ecstatic body hung so close to the sky, and the meadow-pippit’s few liquid notes are thrown out as the bird parachutes down to a bush from the climax of its brief upward flight.

Secondly, there is the mood in which the song is cast.  Blackbirds are never young; their song is calm and reflective, born of a controlled emotion, of ‘emotion recalled in tranquillity‘.  The sentences are spaced and meaningful, giving the impression of thought and care, and there is fluency with mastery of the medium.

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Violin for cover - Version 2 copy

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How different is the boyish attitude of the thrush, of constant experimentation and interest. He listens to his short sentences, likes them and repeats them;  but he never does anything with them.  There is no design to his music.  Even so, the thrush of all birds seems to take the keenest delight in his own singing, and is often the last to fall silent at dusk.

Different again is the wild impetuous carolling of the mistle-thrush, a rush of swift sentences with little variety.  Careful listening will reveal little variety in the song of the redbreast, but so masterly is his control, so effortless his phrasing and so sweet his tone that this lack of material is masked. There is great tenderness in this emotional little song.  The willow-warbler sings in a similar mood, a single plaintive falling cadence, one of the purest sounds in all bird music.

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4 Snowy Lullaby

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Few birds are more self-effacing than the dunnock, and his slight musical tinkle is meant not to offend.  How violently compares the ringing mechanical challenge of the wren!  Once the spring is released to set the song in motion, there is no stopping it until all is said.

A rather more subtle difference is the tone-colour or quality of the voice.  Many bird voices have the timbre of the flute;  but each species has its own kind of flute.  The blackbird’s flute is of green wood.  The tone is warm and rounded, has a throaty quality;  almost it might be said that the blackbird never quite clears his throat.  Nor has his voice the carrying power that enables the song-thrush to light up the evening in a higher drier register.  For the thrush is the descant recorder, a more even tone that never achieves the mellowness of the blackbird.  The robin has a silver flute, and how gently he uses it.  So do most of the warblers, but somewhere in their flutes there is a flaw which causes the voice to harshen on occasion.  The hardest metallic voice belongs to the wren – a tempered steel that rings in the ear.

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Trees planted by Peter, near Shebbear

Trees planted by Peter, near Shebbear

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Lastly, the shape of the sentences or what the bird says is often a great help in getting to know a song.  All birds except the larks sing in more or less short sentences.  These sentences may be set and identical, and are easy to learn.  The hearty but uninspired descending expression of the chaffinch ending in a little turn is typical.  So is the yellow bunting’s ‘Little-bit-of-bread-and-NO-cheese’ in a voice suggesting the quivering heat of summer afternoons.  The tremendous vitality of the wren frequently sets in motion his long and pompous phrase with its bouncing rhythm and many trills.  Probably the simplest sentence is uttered by the first spring-migrant to arrive.  In late March the chiff-chaff is heard high in a tree stolidly repeating his single ill-articulated word with the rhythm of a carving-knife being sharpened.  He calls in fact, his name aloud, for all to hear.

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lino cut bird and egg

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All the great singers bring variety into their songs with more or less differing sentences.  Few translations of bird songs into the human language bear much resemblance to the original, but the following fragment of a thrush’s song written about a hundred years ago, is an exception:

“Worse, mocked the thrush. ‘Die! Die!
O, could he do it, could he do it? Nay!
Be quick!  Be quick!  Here, here, here’
(went his lay)

“‘Take heed! take heed!’  Then, ‘Why?
Why? Why? Why? Why?
See-ee now!  See-ee now!’ (he drawled)
‘Back  Back  Back  R-r-r-run away?’

“O thrush be still!
or at thy will
seek some less sad interpreter than I.”

The nightingale also employs repetition on occasion with great effect, but his song is perhaps the most varied of them all, changing not only the phrases but the tone-colour and the strength of the notes.  He is the only bird to employ crescendo, and there are few things more wonderful to hear than his swelling repetition of a single lovely note until the night is filled with it.

To hear one such perfect note as this is worth much, and it is to this end that a knowledge of bird-songs leads.  For in the height of the singing season the birds sing in chorus, and it is only by picking out and listening to an individual that the single strands of beauty can be heard.  The ability to do this can be a great joy, and will open a new world of sensation and interest.

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Written in the early 1950s at The Bows, Glensaugh, Laurencekirk, Scotland
Revised at Breck Farm, Bransdale, Fadmoor, Yorks.

Peter was under-shepherd at the first, and managing a big hill of sheep at the second.

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Peter with Moss and Nell

Peter with Moss and Nell

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**

My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2016. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

Human Landscape – Children of Syria

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Here are three sketches I did recently, feeling the pressure at the gates of Europe of thousands, millions of individuals, who seek in desperation, a safe place for their young, and for their families.

syria children 1

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syria children 2

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red coastal campion

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syria children 3

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In this land of many racial types and communities, the Star, the Cross and the Crescent thrived.  Until the civil war, Syria enjoyed a secular vitality, largely Sunni Islamic, with remnants of the old Jewish community in Aleppo, and deep anchors of orthodox Antioch Christianity.

Pondering the refugee crisis and cultural cross-fertilization, the light with the dark, the waves crossing waves of man’s inhumanity to man … is it seeding for generations to come, a paradoxical enrichment to the human gene pool?

What pains and pangs of birth are these?  History is peppered with tidal migrations and the violent forces which propel them.  Is there any actual limit or lack of space within the human heart?

Through depth of meaning, we find survival and adaptation. It may help children caught up in adult war to survive, for we are all connected through resonance; it directs us where to go, and what we can or might do here and now.  Meanings are not only spiritual, religious or collective. Meanings are social, intimate and personal – the evolving integrity of an individual’s interconnecting place and purpose in society.

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waves on musselwick sands

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butterlamp boat

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**

My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2015. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

Sketches of Beethoven and Minona

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C3TIr2bBo0 – Barenboim’s noble rendering of the Appassionata Sonata

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http://www.lvbeethoven.com/Famille/FamilyTree-Minona.html#Midi

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Beethoven profile - xerox of a lost sketch

Beethoven profile – xerox of a lost sketch

In my earlier post, More Sketches of Beethoven, I described a dream I had many years ago, that I tried to draw his daughter, who lived with him somewhere underneath Vienna.  It seemed at the time to parallel his efforts at composition, a titanic process of inspirational song, rain-soaked notebooks and hours or months of cutting, shaping and refining – it did not come easy for him.

I brought from my dream’s dark-room an impression down the years, of a child with a wide face and a fringe.  She was his child, or she was his soul – he looked through her eyes.  I met him in my dream, and we made an agreement.  That is all I remember – and the heart breaking toil of trying to portray her.   In those days I drew many children, capturing their essence in sometimes half an hour or less.   Not so, with this one!

I decided to try to reconstruct the dream – particularly when “Edwardian Piano” informed me that there was a daughter – it is said her mother, Josephine Brunswick, raised her as Minona Stakelberg. Josephine’s sister Therese alone was in the secret, which she kept until her grave.  On the website (see top of page under the Barenboim video), you can hear a couple of Minona’s Ecossaises for the piano.  It is a pity that they are played in  ‘electronic’ style.  I can imagine their grace and humour on an old Broadwood.

With sepia photos or daguerrotypes, I guess my way along, like a palaeontologist.  The photo looked at once familiar.  Her face in it is broad, yet heart shaped;  she looks a determined young woman.  In the other photo, she is an older woman.  She probably lost her teeth, and her nose looks longer.  I began with Neidl’s likeness of Beethoven, nearest to the dark child I see in my mind:

Beethoven engraving by J.Neidl

Engraving of Beethoven by J.Neidl from a drawing by G.E.Stainhauser von Treuberg in 1800

The young Beethoven – after the Neidl engraving

Minona

Minona’s face is rather thin here, which draws on information from both the photos. In old photos, much of the bone structure detail is blurred.  It is said her looks were dark and “Spanish”, like Beethoven’s.  My drawing doesn’t show much family likeness, but an exploration of this kind might touch unknown factors;  I do not know!

Josephine Brunswick, her mother

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Finally I began work on this:

Beethoven and his natural daughter

Beethoven and his natural daughter

 …  and it is not finished, and cannot be, but is starting to speak.

There are mysteries between ourselves as human beings and our hidden continents and the things we grieve and share and conceal and stumble with, which can only be recognised and touched upon … beyond words.  We touch the hem of the robe.  The story’s pressure through my dream was the character of Beethoven’s illegitimate daughter, and how this condition made her strong, made her hear him, and grow up beyond her years.  This, like tidal currents in the sea which enter one another, has resonance.

Grief is sharp and alive with colour as in a painting, and so is joy;  and life is born through dying, born through dying and letting go … again and again and again.

Minona Stakelberg

Photo of Minona Stakelberg

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Anton Schindler’s Impression of Beethoven at the piano:
“What the Sonata Pathetique was in the hands of Beethoven (although he left something to be desired as regards clean playing) was something that one had to have heard and heard again, to be quite certain that it was the same already well known work.  Above all, every single thing became, in his hands, a new creation, wherein his always legato playing, one of the particular characteristics of his execution, formed an important part.

“In his lessons, Beethoven taught: always place the hands on the keyboard so that the fingers do not rise any more than is strictly necessary, for only with this method is it possible to create a tone and to learn how to ‘sing’.  He hated staccato playing, especially in the execution of passages; he called it ‘finger dance’ or ‘leading the hands into the air.’

“The pieces which I myself heard Beethoven execute were, with few exceptions, always quite free of tempo limitations:  a tempo rubato in the truest sense of the word, according to the demands of the contents and situation without, however, the slightest tendency to caricature.  It was the clearest and most comprehensible declamation … as perhaps can only be elicited from his works.

“His older friends, who carefully followed the evolution of his spirit in every aspect, assure me that he developed this style in the first years of the third period of his life, and that he turned completely away from his earlier manner of playing with fewer nuances.  From this, it is clear that his urge towards discovery had already found the ways and means to open up with confidence the portals of the mystery to both laity and initiated. 

“He wanted the Quartets to be performed in the same manner as the Sonatas, for they paint states of mind, as do the majority of his Sonatas.”

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Allegri quartet rehearsing, 1988

Allegri quartet rehearsing, 1988

 shingle and shadow

minona 3_0001

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My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2015. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

2011 – Beethoven at the Red Hedgehog

donohoe master 15 janeadamsart

In 2011, Peter Donohoe performed all the Beethoven piano Sonatas at a small concert and arts venue in North London, the Red Hedgehog – named after the famous 19th century Zum Roten Igel coffee-shop in Vienna where the composers hung out.   I helped to get the venue ready for the series, and volunteered to scrub, sand and varnish all the floors, which were very dirty. It felt like a hands-on gesture to renovate a noble instrument and hear its voice.

‘Small is beautiful’. The 32 Sonatas were originally performed in small halls or in private houses. In our time the big concert industry has somewhat swamped that sense of community and … communion.   Here was a chance to recapture the flavour and to support enduring musical values, at grass-roots level:  feeling the deep need for this, in society at present.

2011 was a curious year for me:  I also cleared (by hand) a ten-year rubbish tip from a garden;  which took nine months.  What was going on in my inner life?   It was like a recurring dream I used to have, of a derelict chamber or series of forgotten and neglected rooms in the depths of my psyche.  To bring them to life and make them grow and glow?  I couldn’t resist the challenge!

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Beethoven at Zum Roten Igel in London

Beethoven at Zum Roten Igel in London

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Here are some of my impressions of the Beethoven series from my journal – illustrated with my sketches of Peter giving a master-class a month before the Beethoven series.

 

20 February 2011

Peter Donohoe’s master class reached the mountain tops – Liverpudlian Taurean-type maestro, discusses music with his students. I did a number of rough sketches.   Drawing gives me energy … The atmosphere in the venue was delightful, and smelt of wood floors and paraffin heaters. A trick of the stage lighting makes the piano keys and other details wink scarlet glints … with the musical summit discussion around PD’s penultimate and very gifted student in the late afternoon (Chopin’s 4th Ballade)

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Gallery – click to view

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 21 February 2011

Peter Donohoe’s competent bulk, story-telling profile and the glittering powers in his arms and fingers and centre of gravity are my good friend for life. His Liszt episodes from the Swiss Annees invoked 19th century magic, dreamy Venice and the almost unbearably, daemonically romantic Master of all the music: the long mane, erotic strength and gypsy speech. In those days, THINK of hearing all the composers for the very first time under Liszt’s hands: he did all the recording, all the travelling and drew in all the threads.

Peter plays Chopin – as all pianists do nowadays – very loudly.   Ballades 3 and 4 and the Fantaisie Polonaise:   and Schumann’s Arabesque that my grandmother used to play, very tenderly.   Big colour range. The piano screamed but spoke.   Pianists ravish pianos;   this explains a lot for me.

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Franz Liszt and daemons

Franz Liszt and daemons

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24 February 2011

Mrs T has her wake-up call. Peter told her he was disappointed in the small audience number, and that the place is cold and dirty and – behind the bar especially – unhygienic, and he might have to withdraw from the Beethoven series.   Catastrophe!

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piano

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Beethoven in last quartets mode - detail

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THE SCRUB AND SANDING

During the following month I hired a sanding-machine and took all the dirt off the floors – it was amazing to see the fresh wood emerge – and started to apply coats of smelly gloss varnish. The Indian takeaway shop next door complained that the fumes were coming through the walls.  We googled online for an antidote – freshly chopped onions!

22 March

I arrived at ‘the Endangered Species’ yesterday, to an aroma of onions spread on bits of newspaper like cat food, no trace of fumes or damp, and the venue humming with two bookings – the actors in the back room and a quintet in concert black, in the front room having a jolly photo session round the Yamaha. The sanded bamboo floor looked pale, vulnerable and marvellous. In the evening I did my marathon. Two coats of water based acrylic varnish – home-worked from my local builders merchants – took nearly 6 hours. This morning I didn’t get up till nearly 9!   Am still tired almost to tears, but enjoying great creative satisfaction – the depth and beauty of the bamboo glows up through the coating like a forest – (It was shop-coated but not dirt/feet/chairs proof when Mrs T bought and installed it.) The filthy black floors everywhere are gone:   clean wood brightens the whole place, with my pictures in it, and the spirits of Beethoven & Co, and Mrs T’s resurrected desire to love it and keep it clean. There’s a lot of work to do on skirting boards and doors, etc. She gave me some Anthony Trollope in the headphones to accompany my labours. She loved my concentration and commitment. She said she can’t tell me how much this means to her.   But she does. She is an eager, clever, long-nose schoolgirl with a big heart, fierce green politics and droll dark eyes, clumsy with her feet and knocks the onions around.

Movements of God are funny.

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Photos of my work – I didn’t take any ‘before’ pix!

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23 March 2011

I go back again tonight, to apply the Third Coat in full.   Fourth coat next week.   The hard wear of constantly moving chairs, enormous piano and calor-gas heaters, needs several layers/coats.   Last night I put first and second coats on the patches which had been covered by piano and chair-stacks, and tinkered a bit of Bach on that noble black beast, the Yamaha – fingers all a-fumble. I had to work around all the furniture of the rehearsing actors’ day, but have ordered it to be cleared.   Mrs T provides wine – which she is afraid to drink herself.

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donohoe master 8 janeadamsart

 

27 March 2011

Last night the Peter Donohoe concerts began, and I understood why I have worked so hard. Beethoven at the height of his game, flowed into every well-loved part of my soul: the magic of musician and audience – who gasped like a woman in bed – such an intimate venue.   There were plenty of people, (bookings suddenly flooded in yesterday) and Donohoe didn’t bang, he sang with power, nobility, simple humanity, tenderness and dazzling ferocity, those early sonatas I know well, but I never heard them played before! He said the one emotion not expressed in Beethoven’s sonatas, is defeatism.

The puzzlement is that music or performance seems ephemeral, a one-off; yet it has this power as no other, to draw villages of souls together for a blessing which pierces turmoil and any kind of speech.

by the sea the sun - found online

by the sea the sun – found online

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28 March 2011

We heard the three Sonatas preceding the Pathetique. The last of these has a slow movement with Beethoven’s deepest thoughts and yearnings. When Peter plays the fast ones, he hurtles and bounds, much as I believe, the fiery Beethoven would have done – with splendid vocal statements, silences, humour and elasticity.   It is architectural. He plays the slow movements with full sonority and depth from the key-bed, making the chords roll-break just a fraction, which resonates the bell.   His technique and tool kit is precise, colour-toned and beautiful:   he is a big man, he rides his mistakes, and power takes hold. His profile is good with the instrument, and so are his wide blue eyes and mature wonder. He said last month that when he practices he works, but when he performs, he learns.   Each performance and its dynamic with the audience is unique.

They talked again (him and Michael White from the Telegraph) about the even-tempered piano nowadays, wherein the keys no longer have different tonal colours; but Beethoven and his colleagues would have approved of the way the instrument and its range has developed.   The keys themselves have widened, so the hand stretch required is now greater.   They discussed the composer’s metronome. Peter said he never bothers with it, and if he does, it plays tricks on him.   The day’s living temper varies.   Beethoven requests very fast metronome markings, perhaps because he inner-hears the music faster than it physically plays – just as when scanning or memorising a score; or when thinking rather than talking.   My friend Paul put up his hand at the depth implication of this, and said something about the etheric field, and the borderline of the deaf or death.   Randy Newman the critic told me afterwards, the Hammerklavier’s markings are impossibly fast, and then (apparently) stupendously slow in the slow movement, because when I mentioned my Solomon recording, he said Solomon took up Beethoven’s tempi spontaneously, in the Hammerklavier, and suffered his stroke immediately after.

It was all about frequency: the higher dimensions into the performer’s pulse.   They discussed the sublime late Sonatas. These seemed to cadence Beethoven’s creation and look beyond – then followed his real Late period, the Quartets, Missa Solemnis, Ninth Symphony, the cosmic jokes in the Diabelli variations and the profoundly playful Bagatelles. He transcended dissolution. Temporal transparencies slide together enigmatically, and extend life – Peter’s side-slipping gestures. How Beethoven in such states, appeared “crazy”.   I thought of Mrs T’s venue-household chaos – not unlike Beethoven’s – and how she adores him, she wishes she were his lover.   So this whole noble festival and its curve, has Beethoven’s untidy and stressed out sublimity. It will command its course.

Gallery – click to view

 

I arrive into an insight … to let persons proceed in their own unfolding way;   to assist with this only where I can, practically, and not to argue with their actions or ideas. They are learning, just as I have.

Do not put wrong lenses together.   Accept and hear, and do not try to fix, or overrule.

“The whole nature of man must be used wisely by the one who desires to enter the way.”

At moments yesterday I perceived how aptly my task with the floors mirrors the chaotic artist element in my life: it shows me – like wood grain under varnish – my panics, terrors and scrambling against the clock – the disrespect for my person that they cause – the noble summit of the deep-end brief – the over all humanity: humane.   The ability to care for my own home is evolutionary.   Give it some, today.

Put lenses together which may be different, but which align truly.

Re-arrange the vehicles of consciousness, to co-ordinate always a little better with what’s given.

piano, brahms 1st piano concerto 2nd subject theme - 1969

piano, brahms 1st piano concerto 2nd subject theme – 1969

 

Peter spoke last night of the adventure of a Beethoven Series, and what it means to him each time he does one – the philosophical and physical commitment to the mountain.

 ludwigpicture

Peter Donohoe spoke last night of Beethoven’s profound political and philosophical awareness during a time of intense social upheaval.   I said it is like this again, today (which is why it’s significant to hear Beethoven in the Highgate Red Hedgehog) but I didn’t mention Pluto in Capricorn, in case Peter thinks astrology is codswallop.   He might not. There is the mystic in him, and the intelligence.   He loves Messiaen, and studied under Yvonne Loriod.   He was very tired yesterday, and a bit skinless.   He hadn’t slept well. As he loves Messiaen, his inner world has those vast slow bird song mandalas, like Dante’s Rose in the Paradiso.

The floors begin to glow with beauty, and are admired; Peter played the Moonlight and Pastorale as always in his searching, lyrical and thrilling manner to pin-drop pause and howls of amazement in the applause. Sarah from Radio 3 pitched in for the pre-concert conversation – he likes her – and they discussed Stravinsky’s remarks during Rite of Spring, about the composer or performer being a vessel for the music. There were about 65 in the audience.   Peter enjoys himself in the dialogue atmosphere. Mrs T dares to book his 13th Beethoven cycle next year.   The bamboo forest floor shines golden, and it is a concert hall, serious and serene.

concert hall

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11 April 2011

Beethoven was an emperor who despised Napoleon’s competing claim.   As Donohoe said, his apparent arrogance was in fact, confidence not only in himself, but in the self-transcending power of his gift.   Around it, effects settle and Time sets a pulse.   The pulse itself gathers intention.

For my mother, the Red Hedgehog, the Beethoven and meeting Mrs T, (who wishes she could borrow her) is another adventure in human eccentricity, to dine out on.   She thinks the shop front should stay as it is, because the interior oasis by contrast is fascinating to step into.

They mentioned in Saturday’s talk, that Beethoven lost nearly all his possessions during his frequent moves from lodging to lodging, but never lost the thousands of pages of his notes and musical ideas which he carried always with him.   Where are these?

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donohoe master 11 janeadamsart

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I spoke to Donohoe in the doorway of the Awful Bar (where he says he likes to stand), about the mandalas in Messiaen and those same flowering pulses – like Dante’s Rose – in his intelligence of Beethoven; and the control of the cyclic dance measure through all the passion; the voices and colours and accents which emerge.   He agreed and was pleased.   Underpinning the Beethoven cycle has been this discussion of tempi, pulse and inner and outer hearing.

The playing is titanic, and sometimes terrifying, I feared the instrument would break, the power unleashed yet just contained in that wind swept dance or circling.   It must be twenty times louder than Beethoven’s day: yet Beethoven played like a fury, as well as with tenderness, and so he is invoked.   Randy Newman the critic came up and said that was the worst Adieux he EVER heard. For me it was full of profound speech. The Appassionata, a waterfall of fountains, made me tremble.   Opus 78, said to be Beethoven’s own favourite, is Beethoven’s warm romantic personality, face to face.

The Messianic mandalas of Peter’s performance of Beethoven – (he told me that most people don’t perceive that spiritual energy-field in Beethoven) – are magnetic.   I perceive this power and its law, touching the ground.

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the piano keys are grapes - 1987

the piano keys are grapes – 1987

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Gallery – click to view

Ops 90-something and 101 were heavy in places – Peter was not quite in his stride – but the Hammerklavier was a profound and passionate reading, especially the slow movement, and the questing recitative as it floats between the keys to the fugue – through endless space – and all through the Hammerklavier the mandala inseminates all the keys, like Wagner’s chromatic Tristan.   I was surprised, because I hear again and again how DIFFICULT the Hammerklavier is to play, and for people to hear … yet the whole of it is accessible, to me: how well I know it, every note! I said to Peter, I suppose I’m rather odd, he said yes you are.   This work is the interior man laid bare – his thoughts, his jottings, exploring and titanic resurgence.   In the fast bits, Peter tumbles through all his tempi like water in flood, like (I guess) Beethoven must have done, devouring the multiple pulse.

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18 April 2011

Full house at the hedgehog last night, for Peter’s last 3 Beethovens, which he played with sublime powers.  Before the music, John Suchet spoke of the original red hedgehog in Vienna, about the size of this one, and with about the same audience, and how last month at the end of a certain bad day, in the middle of 12 emails, all marked Rubbish, stood just one marked Red Hedgehog, and it opened up from there; and so here he is – and he talked with attractive enthusiasm about his hero and the Sonatas and the dreadful mishandling of beloved nephew Karl.  Yet Karl survived and went to America where he produced another little Beethoven who – sadly – died in World War One.

People are too busy for commitment. So should I be, really.   Too busy for commitment?   For an alchemist, commitment is where I am.   Commitment is my job. When Mrs T went off to the pub to debrief and dine with Peter and his wife and daughter, I had an energy lift, and tidied things up and put half the chairs away, leaving it neat and golden … and had to scramble/clamber into the locked back room through the glory hole, to retrieve my bags …

donohoe master 17 janeadamsart

The ‘Endangered Species’ now has a great Beethoven audience, ambiance and a chatty maestro, with two colourful ladies running it and welcoming everybody. Mrs T began to remind people that she hasn’t actually got any money.   Let’s hope the Last Night of the Beethovens triggers more Providence – it is an energy field.   I met the hedgehog’s original financial provider, a man called M and his boyfriend.   The floors shine.   In league with old Beethoven in his own desperate lodgings, I rolled up my sleeves.   I’m proud.

This stayed with me:  Peter spoke during the master class and during the Beethoven series, on interpretation.  He said that often there is too much emphasis on this, and on one’s ideas about the music.  He aims to take himself out of the way, to play the notes the composer wrote – humility – and let them speak.  Do not stand in front.

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If you are interested in helping The Red Hedgehog in its work with music, education and the theatre, here is the link: http://www.theredhedgehog.co.uk/ .  The manager is Clare Fischer.

See also my post of Timothy West at the Red Hedgehog

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Beethoven in later life - 1999

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My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2014. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

More Sketches of Beethoven

Beethoven and ... Rostropovich?  I found this forgotten early drawing from the 1970s, while searching for the two which I have lost.  I used to find it 'easier' to draw him than I do now!

Beethoven and … Rostropovich? (circa 1972).  I found this forgotten early drawing from the 1970s, while searching for the two which I have lost. I used to find it ‘easier’ to draw him than I do now! I love listening to the Beethoven cello sonatas.

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Continuing this “Beethoven series” inspired by Elene’s researches :  this post includes some journaling over the weekend, and portraits of the master by others, and from my new sketches.

First: a detail from my “watershed” series of dreams during the 1970s:

September 1976 – from “Paris and the Hollow Way”
(Watershed Tales)

“Smelling the flowers which grow around the end of Boulevard Malesherbes, I see the bright food in the brasseries, the Gaulish striped canopies over smoked glass. Avenues which radiate from this place are planted tree-deep with bouquets gathered this morning from the tart grass; the dew is still upon them – the waters of a river, where the pit of the railway once was
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“And yet this place in Paris has mile upon mile of shattered streets and dirty weathered brick.  The sorrow moves me, through field upon field of unhoused space, like Liverpool after the war.  As far as I see, no man lives here.  It moves me in strange ways.  I discussed these ways with the old hoardings of scarred planks and corrugated iron which give and take along the road. What tragedian devastated this land?

“No man,” they replied.  No man is an island.  But they live and speak.  Their answer is in nomadic ways, in syllables of philosophy I cannot recall.  They are my notice boards, my inner adversities that talk.

“So I came at last to an arrangement with Beethoven, of whom I was very fond.  I found him in a room without much light, and a musty smell … maybe a Viennese cellar during Napoleon’s bombardment?  I agreed to draw a portrait for him of his daughter.  She’s a small child, and her facial features are very dark.  For hours I toiled with each line and contour.  I saw Beethoven’s light within her, her soul so clear where she sat, but I couldn’t get it right.  The expression of her mouth and eyes, came into me, but I couldn’t connect.  I hesitated. I erased and drew, and erased again and drew.  The difficulty stared me in the face like having to learn all over again to walk, and made me cringe with pain.  I struggled to achieve at length an approximation:  my facility is lost, and I forgot the way.  There are no short cuts I can take.”

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The young child Beethoven?
portrait by an unknown artist, discovered in 1972
and … how might he have looked?

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I was reminded of this, because I had rather a struggle to draw Beethoven over the weekend.  I lost two early sketches of him which I like – maybe I gave them away – so I tried to reconstruct them.  The creative process doesn’t always flow.  Beethoven often had titanic difficulty with his compositions, scribbling and shouting and scratching out and searching for what he heard in the rain and the trees, from God.

Beethoven on a walk ... Pastorale

Beethoven on a walk … Pastorale

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Journal 24 July – Beethoven and Vera
He really is around … two new followers to my blog, who write about him and about pianos – did they come in through Vera Moore?

On Emily’s piano yesterday however, the three or four out-of-tune keys were very noticeable, and I couldn’t ride it well;  it was evening after a long tiring day.  When I played, the flowing faculty wasn’t there, and I stumbled along the up-down action.  I rang the tuner:  he said it could be tuned again in two or three months, but if it gets unbearable he will come and see what he can do.  One small consolation:  my own piano – a Spencer upright – is easier!

Strings and hammers - detail from a larger painting

Strings and hammers – detail from a larger painting

It was a revelation for me the day before, that to play Beethoven we must meditate with love: that is, to wait and let him enter.  He reaches the soul universally and constantly regenerates and sprouts runners along the higher astral ground – a hardy perennial.  The perennial is love – the humanitarian love which strove and strode nobly with his wrecked health and domestic furies.

I need to tune into that love, spontaneously or deliberately, to play him at all.  I have to walk with him and feel the rain, meditate and imagine the wild wind in the trees I see, and the noble themes it whispers onto a sodden notebook page.  The love and the divine beauty had to force a way through discordant tinnitus.

Beethoven walk: by Julius Schmid

Beethoven walk: by Julius Schmid

This must have made the silent sound of the outer world unbearably alluring – to see the movement and feel the wet rain.  On his walks the nature devas counselled him: he sang and scribbled and “raved”.  To rave is to be ravished in the elements.  People who knew him recorded the way his face opened into a raptus.  The raptus of old Beethoven fought the daily cacophonies inside his ears, and strode the serene paradox of the late quartets and the Opus 111 Arietta.

I did long ago, a small oil sketch of B walking in the grass hatless – can’t find it yet – did it get left behind at the red hedgehog?  Yesterday it was clear to me that my enormous labour of love at the red hedgehog in 2011 (a small and struggling concert venue), to clean and sand down and varnish the floors which were filthy, was for Beethoven.  I did it for the Peter Donohoe Beethoven series there – hook, line and sinker:  an esoteric assignment if you will.  If I hadn’t cleaned and brightened the floors, that wonderful Beethoven series might not have happened or touched earth there – a peak symbolic moment.  The sublime got through the chaos – the timeless touch spread fore and aft, and struck its Sound and Glory.

Klein, Franz / Micheli: Beethoven-Maske mit Lorbeerkranz, nach der Lebendmaske von Klein

Klein, Franz / Micheli: Beethoven-Maske mit Lorbeerkranz, nach der Lebendmaske von Klein

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As I mentioned Vera Moore above, suddenly my world with her is here too.  She is with me.  She was my piano teacher in Paris in 1965:  her eternal Life in a rickety household, rather like Beethoven’s – but she lived till she was 90:  her strong caress of the keys, like wrapping a baby – her reverent joy – giving birth to her “son of Art” and bringing him up through the French Resistance and after the war:  her powerful and abrasive personality as a younger woman and single mother – I hear again the obstinate ripple of her voice.  It didn’t bother her if her old Gaveau was out of tune – she couldn’t afford the tuner.

Vera Moore when I knew her - this drawing from memory is from the early 1970s

Vera Moore when I knew her – this drawing from memory is from the early 1970s.  I can imagine her sitting with me, and what she might say about this note or that note, wrapping my fingers round it like a baby with a shawl … her way with poetic images and her LOVE … her instruction to play what I am learning, like a chorale, without any inhibitions – sing it inside, with the touch.

I read somewhere that Liszt could draw forth the heart and soul from an out-of-tune instrument and captivate his listeners.  There must be a way of using those odd sounds.

One of Vera’s students helped her to write a piano Method.  I don’t think I heard Vera play Beethoven, but when Beethoven’s window opens in my soul, I may be pretty sure she will come through it as well.  Her gift like his, is a delicate seed of power, grace, humour and peace, in a turbulent nest.

I think Vera taught her piano students the “horizontal” caress which holds and rolls along the white and black keys, and on rare occasions comes through me in a moment of delight (I soon fall off !).  I believe Liszt played like this, glancing sideways with seductive smile (“isn’t this amazing?”); and Paul Roes aims to reconstruct it in his “Music – the Mystery and the Reality“.

Vera Moore in the 1930s - from Winifred Nicolson's  painting of her

Vera Moore in the 1930s – from Winifred Nicolson’s painting of her.  Search ‘vera moore’ on this blog, for my two posts about her.

I do prefer old uneven character pianos to the mechanically-perfect electronic keyboards.  You can hear straight away, even through a high open window.

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A sketch of Beethoven in his teens.  This one 'works' for me - and took just a few minutes.

A sketch of Beethoven in his teens. This one ‘works’ for me – and took just a few minutes.

silhouette of Beethoven at 16

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Here is a timely message from a fellow blogger:

“Draw a circle
place inside of it
every aspect of your
human experience …
all emotions
all actions
all shame and guilt
all the things you would love to forget
and all that you hope
you will never forget.

“Make it a place where all of it fits.
Let them no longer be strangers
to one another.
Let them take off their shoes and stay a while
rub elbows
break bread
toast to one another’s health and long life.

“When everything that you have experienced
is located in one place
you are
finally
‘One with Everything’.”

Charlie Morris wrote this poem … this morning, about everything in his life, the human texture, difficulty and joy, being in this one room unconditionally and inclusively, which is “God”.  It is not spiritual or unspiritual.

So Beethoven poured basins of water over his head to cool the fire of composition.  Now see and breathe interior peace in and as the room.  Nobody is alive without depending on something or someone for their well being.  No one goes it alone.  Look at what I depend on!  If my path with the Inner School was taken away, where would I be?

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Gallery, working from Kloeber and Carolsfeld’s portraits
– click to view

 

I spent the rest of the day trying to draw Beethoven – three more efforts.  It is much more difficult for me than it used to be – and so is playing the piano.  I found my Robbins Landon book which has lots of pictures, and an interesting photoshop idea online, with B’s life mask.  I got very bogged down and stuck.

I also extracted from my 2011 journals, the gist of Peter Donohoe’s Beethoven series at the red hedgehog (zum roten igel in North London) – I might put it in my next post, with my sketches of PD’s master-class.  Then my energy was all gone.

Gallery – click to view

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Gallery

Beethoven kept this painting by Joseph Mahler on his wall throughout his many changes of lodging.  It must have been among his few possessions – apart from the thousands of pages of his notebooks – which survived.  He will have identified particularly with its heroic quality.  Another of his treasured paintings was the one of his grandfather.

I decided to ‘have a go’ with this one, but quickly found the pose too artificial and romantic to reproduce convincingly!  So I switched to the idea of him conducting from the keyboard – keep practicing !   Keep trying  …

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Helen Ede in 1974, on my last visit to her.  She is knitting a sock for 'Old Bonesie', my grandfather.  Through the window you could see the Pentland Hills south of Edinburgh

Helen Ede in 1974, on my last visit to her. She is knitting a sock for ‘Old Bonesie’, my grandfather. Through the window in Jordan Lane, you could see the Pentland Hills south of Edinburgh

I hear the severe ecstasy of my grandmother, Helen Ede – her face and eagerness shaped somewhat like his. She used to play Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata on her Bechstein … in whose dusky dark tones I explored his slow movements.  When her memory went, or she fell off a note, she would say ‘h’ai’ crossly.

We spoke together about the Arietta in his Opus 111 – after listening to her old record of Claudio Arrau playing it. Her face lit up: I cannot reproduce her voice, but she said something like this:

“… the long trills where the sun comes out.  You have in the beginning an austerity, and through the variation the austerity slowly relents, letting go of its own form, to melt and smile and dance.  You know that place where the dotted rhythm begins to go around, and around, to break it up – dissolving the form into light without ever quite losing it … ?  it falls open and time stops.  It seems to me that through that light, very gradually emerges again the variation.  The theme didn’t quite disappear, but is transcended and transfigured.  Then slowly the bar lines return, and the theme resumes.”

Beethoven in last quartets mode

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Imagining old Beethoven in private, his deaf face, his pain transfigured, alone in that mess of a room, having just poured another bucket over himself … I hear in some of his piano music, the Dionysian cyclic mandala or mantra rhythm, like Dante’s cosmic rose, dissolving into light.

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“Ochh Jane,” says my grandmother in her Scottish-German accent, “Oh what a sight to see.”

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Claudio Arrau 1986: from the record sleeve of Opus 111

Claudio Arrau 1986: from the record sleeve of Opus 111

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My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2014. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/

Human Landscape – Sketches of Beethoven

 

Beethoven at Zum Roten Igel

Beethoven at Zum Roten Igel

Last week, I got very excited about this link:

https://elenedom.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/beethoven-guest-blogger/

Here, Elene explores a musician friend’s contact with Beethoven, comparing it to her own subtle relation with him and with Chopin.

It inspired me to dig out my old sketches of Ludwig Beethoven, and to see what happens: to try perhaps a new one.   I am reminded of a dream I had in 2011, of my hands like a child, and Beethoven touching them and looking onward … or mine resting on his:

My dream with Beethoven, 29 May 2011. He had Pluto and Venus in Capricorn - a musician's Hades-Persephone marriage.  Pluto is again in Capricorn - 2008-2024 - completing a cycle since Beethoven's day.    Pluto is the depth dredger in human affairs, but also represents - particularly in Capricorn - a depth and enduringness of human values, such as those which Beethoven  sang and wrote - as fresh these days, as ever.

My dream with Beethoven, 29 May 2011. He had Pluto and Venus in Capricorn – a musician’s Hades-Persephone marriage. Pluto is again in Capricorn – 2008-2024 – completing a cycle since Beethoven’s day. Pluto is the depth dredger in human affairs, but also represents – particularly in Capricorn – a depth and enduringness of human values, such as those which Beethoven heard, sang as he walked, and wrote. These values seemingly hidden by today’s turbulence, are perenially fresh for those who touch and find.

The Pluto Venus Capricorn glyph in this drawing speaks to me of the master’s depth and tenderness.

Journal 29 May 2011
“I dreamed – An eager young man, with some arrangement with Beethoven, built an Ascension vehicle which lifted us high to behold his vision and his project, for which he was gathering souls like mine, for faith and ballast.  The landscape was stupendously beautiful – a great smooth sunset sea surrounded by distant mountains, their crazy, graceful outlines rimmed with supernal light.  It was heart-catching: awe.  The sea – the LENS – was like a very large bay or inlet, because ‘inland’ or harbour seemed to be to the right, below.  It is my perennial vision of the human coastline and hinterland.  Have faith!

“The man spoke of it all, and somewhere I touched the back of Beethoven’s hand.  The vision was – as in the Eroica – of Beethoven’s divine pride and purpose.  Beethoven was immediately to hand, the writing all joined up.  It was time to go with the man and put it all into action …  the young man’s voice had an Australian twang … …

“… I listened to Beethoven’s Adieux, Therese, the Goblins and the Fourth piano concerto, all played by Arrau … Artists and musicians are forgiven much.  Grumpy old Beethoven – chunks of humanity off the old block – are put there for us to listen to their musical integrity, not to be wise or polite.

“I draw very slowly the line – and it was really hard to get a Beethoven likeness – eventually found photo of his sculpted head, taken from the life mask.  I think this is the one he didn’t like, as the weight of the plaster dragged down his face – so we ALL think he went around with mouth down turned at the corners, and maybe he didn’t.  He is said to have pursed his lips when concentrating, and certainly he stuck the lower one out.  His chin was cleft like a great shell.  His nose was ‘three cornered, like a lion’, his eyes rather small and exceptionally alive – changing colour, dark greenish hazel perhaps.  He tended to roll them upwards.  He was swarthy, pock marked, with leonine black hair ‘like a Spaniard’, and much hair over his body and hands.  He dressed elegantly when he was young.  When a fine lady complemented the nobility of his brow, he said ‘Salute it then, Madam’ and offered it to kiss.”

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Here is one of my efforts to sketch him yesterday – the young Beethoven, from the Hornemann portrait 1802:  before his deafness and at the height of his performing powers.

Young Beethoven, after Hornemann

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This drawing was done perhaps in the 1970s:  the older man bends close to the keys in his struggle to hear.

Beethoven plays

Beethoven plays

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The above portrait was inspired by this painting by an unknown artist – my father has the sepia photo.  I always assumed it was Ludwig Beethoven playing the violin, but if you look closely, you can see his life mask hanging on the wall … like a secret mirror.

beethoven violin

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When I was a child we lived in a farmhouse with a large attic.  Exploring up there, I found this cobwebbed photo of a painting by Franz Stvk.  I have it still.

Beethoven by Franz Stvk

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When I was young, I played a lot of Beethoven on the piano, and identified – often painfully – with his darkness.  In the 1980s I teamed with a violinist, Fred Barschak, and together we climbed the mountains of the Spring, Kreuzer and Seventh Violin Sonatas.

Beginning to play the Spring Sonata

 

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Here are my earlier sketches of Beethoven, and their sources:

beethoven on a walk

beethoven on a walk

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Beethoven at work

Beethoven at work

This portrait was inspired by Batt’s drawing (below) in the Oxford Companion to Music.

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Gallery: Beethoven by Batt, Klein, Stvk and von Kloeber

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Beethoen in later life

Beethoen in later life

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More early studies – I made his forehead much higher than it really was.  Beethoven’s brow had a noble, rounded breadth.

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Beethoven after the painting by F.Schimon

Beethoven after the painting by F.Schimon

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These two pages are from a journal in 1969, quoting Schindler’s visit to the master when he was composing the Missa Solemnis Credo.

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And … within the cosmos of the late Quartets –

Beethoven in last quartets mode

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Glancing at Elene’s other posts touching on Beethoven, here is a teaching of his to a pianist-composer friend – he sat in the car and said to Elene’s friend, “How do you get the perfect cut of meat? – you trim away all the fat.”   While reading the earlier post, ‘More on Lou van B’, these words came to me:  “before sitting down to play Beethoven, open and fill your heart with love.”

It is a struggle for me to find him sometimes – like climbing over fences.  Perhaps it is the spiritual battle of the “heroic” with love;  the personal ego with the truth;  the ‘I-can-and-I-will’ with ‘listen’ … inheriting Beethoven’s philosophical dilemma in the Quartet opus 135 – must it be? It must be.

piano action

piano action

I am at present “exercising” Emily’s baby grandpiano in Southgate. It has a beautiful faded case;  her father used to play popular classics on it, but he died nearly 30 years ago, and no one  touched it since.  The poor thing had sagged to honky tonk with three stuck notes, and yet I found a good, light action.  I persuaded them to have it tuned.  The sleeping beauty is in shock!  – and now between tunings to stabilise – all her strings woke up and stretched and some of them already slipped.   I put a vase of water underneath and a small dish of water inside, to counteract the heating in the house.

Yet her voice came out, singing and mellow, in the quieter places, quite sensual.  It was wonderful to play and hear it in the restful, faded drawing-room which opens onto the long wisteria garden.  I enjoyed a strange sense of flow and freedom of tone across the ‘vertical’ hammer system, in terms of touch and tenderness:  Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and other slow movements spoke with love, and so did Bach preludes.  Some of the bass notes growl. My fingers were – magically – not in the way.  I thought of the Liszt method in Paul Roes’ book Music – the Mystery and the Reality.   Magic happens in an individual variety of tone – part of the charm which older pianos have – which challenges me to find and adapt to its way of singing.  The new or electronic instruments don’t have that playful intimacy.

Instrument.  This is actually my father's Petrof piano, as I have not yet photographed Emily's.

Instrument. This is actually my father’s Petrof piano, as I have not yet photographed Emily’s.

Interestingly, in Elene’s post on conversations with Beethoven, he says new agey views of higher plane diaphanous white robes are nonsense – we wear what we wore in history and sometimes dress up in contemporary style for fun – like he did in a 1940s brown suit.  “He still loves rain, baths, showers and the woods.  His house is in the woods.”  Because generation after generation discover and interpret his music, his commitment to humanity is timeless, covering a very wide landscape, and continually refreshed … “A German word in the ear, meaning energy flowing:  projection:  Vorsprung – projects like rock.

Have we a Beethoven forum?  Visit also https://edwardianpiano.wordpress.com/my-poetry/ for some evocative verse, haiku and pictures of Beethoven I never saw before.  This fascinating site turned up last week in synchrony with Elene’s Beethoven, Guest Blogger;  I had to jump in.

TO BE CONTINUED – my new attempts to draw Beethoven, and some more impressions.

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My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.

This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.

aquariel link

All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2015. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/