Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Dvorak

Here’s a quote from a piece John Berger wrote in Le Monde diplomatique back in 2003. The whole piece Written in the night: the pain of living in the present world can be read here:

http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/27a/113.html

It is a little more than a century ago that Dvorak composed his Symphony From the New World. He wrote it whilst directing a conservatory of music in New York, and the writing of it inspired him to compose, 18 months later, still in New York, his sublime Cello Concerto. In the symphony the horizons and rolling hills of his native Bohemia become the promises of the New World. Not grandiloquent but loud and continuing, for they correspond to the longings of those without power, of those who are wrongly called simple, of those the US Constitution addressed in 1787.

I know of no other work of art which expresses so directly and yet so toughly (Dvorak was the son of a peasant and his father dreamt of his becoming a butcher) the beliefs which inspired generation after generation of migrants who became US citizens.

For Dvorak the force of these beliefs was inseparable from a kind of tenderness, a respect for life such as can be found intimately among the governed (as distinct from governors) everywhere. And it was in this spirit that the symphony was publicly received when it was first performed at Carnegie Hall (16 December 1893).

Dvorak was asked what he thought about the future of American music and he recommended that US composers listen to the music of the Indians and blacks. The Symphony From the New World expressed a hopefulness without frontiers which, paradoxically, is welcoming because centred on an idea of home. A utopian paradox.

Today the power of the same country which inspired such hopes has fallen into the hands of a coterie of fanatical (wanting to limit everything except the power of capital), ignorant (recognising only the reality of their own fire-power), hypo critical (two measures for all ethical judgments, one for us and another for them) and ruthless B52 plotters.

Here’s the sublime cello concerto that he refers to, coincidentally the one I felt encapsulated the narrative of human despair a few posts ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJcEbYfJ6XU

Part two

http://youtube.com/watch?v=3o8bVwPXLUw

Part three

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nkNQYqVEQk

There’s nothing like consensus, what? I shall restrain myself from a string of compliments about Mr Berger’s work and simply say reading his books is like the experience of jumping between rocks as a child. Each one you land on another small victory, a reminder of all the possibilities that exist, of voices missing from literature. What will we do if he dies? Learn to jump backwards, or add a half twist between stones, or hope for new outcrops.

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