Sunday, December 14, 2008

Beethoven, Brahms and other Meta

Tuesday night the Doctors Symphony read Brahms's Third Symphony. This comes up a lot on horn audition lists, and several lives ago I took several auditions. For the non-auditioned people, here is what an audition entails:

A young aspiring musician decides to find out if he/she/it can find gainful employment as a classical symphonic musician. Said musician spends 2 - 3 years assembling a team of teachers, coaches, friends, compatriots, and various others to goad, encourage, beat, torture, maim, denegrate, and generally make this poor musician miserable enough to want to lock him/her/itself in a small 5 x 3 "practice room" for the duration and practice only snippets of the vast palette of Western Orchestral Repertoire. The final year, while still spending nearly all free and used time in said dungeon, any chance to buy a ticket, hop on a plane, and show up to an audition with 400 - 800 other similar victims is jumped on without second thought. Invariably every single one is heard to give the impression of impartiality, and after several rounds one may be selected.

I spent much time playing this game when I was younger. And much time playing Brahms. It's a testament to the quality of his music that I still listen to it, and occasionally practice it. So when we read it Tuesday, I was really interested in seeing how more of it sounds than just the 16 bars of the third movement that I normally play, especially with a full orchestra.

It was awesome. There was a point at the entrance of the final solo in the third movement where the conductor, the baton, the horn, and I were all connected in some sick, erotically non-erotic cosmic love fest. He played me like the man who nearly bedded me in college before I realized that this men liking men thing isn't just rumor and supposition, and that a young boy intending to keep his honor had better be careful.

But in the context of a symphony orchestra, where unlike a bull the horns are in the back and the asshole is in the front, separated by a luscious ocean of the middle strings of celli and violas, and the silence written stark in ink and imagined flawless in our minds whether it truly was or not, this was a moment. The orchestra stopped time. The baton moved. He caught my eye, and I his. As the baton raised perfectly, the conductor, the horn, Brahms, my teachers, and I all collapsed into a singularity, no longer a virtual particle/wave, but a real existence.

After it was over, I went home and cried. It was a rare moment where I was truly at peace with existence.