Thursday, February 25, 2010

double no trouble


By writing a concerto that was double
Johannes Brahms got out of serious trouble
with his fiddle friend, Joseph Joachim.
Although Brahms once had thought that he should sack him
when he divorced his wife, the lovely Amalie,
whom Brahms loved more than his own family,
he reconciled with him, when feeling mellow
about the cello of a friendly fellow,
who doubled with the fiddle in Brahms’ last
orchestral work, forgiving what had passed
between them, writing to indemnify
the fiddler who, though einsam remained frei,
which means that although free, he felt most lonely,
which doesn’t happen when connecting only.
What Forster would explain Johannes Brahms
expressed, helped by a cello fellow’s charms.

Written while listening to a broadcast to the Brahms Double Concerto for violin and cello, introduce by Alan Chapman on KUSC on February 25, 2010.

This is the second poem I have written alluding to the motto of Joseph Joachim. Composed in the summer of 1887, and first performed on 18 October of that year it was Brahms' final work for orchestra. Brahms, approaching the project with anxiety over writing for instruments that were not his own wrote it for the cellist Robert Hausmann, and his old estranged friend, the violinist Joseph Joachim. The concerto was, in part, a gesture of reconciliation towards Joachim, after their long friendship had ruptured following Joachim's divorce from his wife Amalie. Brahms had sided with Amalie in the dispute, and this led to the estrangement between Brahms and Joachim. The Double Concerto acted as a form of musical reconciliation. The concerto also makes use of the musical motif A-E-F, a permutation of F-A-E, which stood for a personal motto of Joachim, frei aber einsam ("free but lonely").

This is the earlier poem, written twelve years ago, on 2/5/98:


Frei aber einsam, Joachim said,
free but lonely,
Frei aber froh, Brahms said instead,
free, happy, only
lonely when he could not write.
Composing, he
was happy when he got it right,
which made him free.


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