Notes: A two hour piece I started out loathing but kinda like now. There's a lot that's wrong with it, but there's also a lot that's right, so here you are. Written to Mozart's Violin Concerto #3 in G, LOL shock.
I heard him sing, once. It sounded wrong.
Please don't mistake me. His voice was beautiful. It was every bit as rich as you'd think it would be, hearing him speak, hearing his words, and higher than you'd expect. He was a tenor. Doesn't that surprise you? I know how much you'd have liked to cast him as a bass - all the time you knew him, you wanted him to be a bass, so that he'd either have to sing comic relief or the villain.
You don't follow, do you?
No matter; that's only to be expected from a man like you. In any case, he sang beautifully, but it sounded wrong, because he isn't a singer. He sings, but he isn't a singer. Singing is honesty, you understand; it's an open mouth, releasing all the breath left in your lungs; singing is trust that once you've left yourself empty, they'll let you take some in again. You're a singer, I expect. Am I wrong?
Fine, don't answer. I don't care.
Anyway, he was never like that. He was a musician, to be sure - you know about that, of course. It was hard to spend much time around him and not see him on the piano, or the violin, or the cello. No? You never saw him like that? Curious. I wonder what that says.
He took to strings, though. My, he took to strings. He was nothing but strings, all tendons and wires beneath his skin and a resin-coated bow above, the thin lines of his fingers measuring out the length of the note with the precision of a mathematician, or a master. I dared him to try the flute once, and he did, and it will be a long time until I laugh so hard again: the expression on his face! My, that will stay with me until my last days. He wouldn't even so much as touch the drums, no matter how much I asked him to. You can probably imagine what he said there, can't you? You know him so much better than I do, after all.
A pity that you never saw him play. It was somehow...stirring, to watch him. I don't know what I mean, precisely. It was just such a contrast. He was always so angry, even when he was with the people he loved, even when he was smiling, but when he touched the strings, ah! It was like a metamorphosis. His eyes were downcast, his lashes lowered. For once, he wasn't scowling, and he wasn't forcing that fake smile onto his face, the one he was always wearing when he was talking to you - oh, I'm sorry, did I offend you? You seem offended. It's all right, you don't have to answer; I really honestly don't care.
He only had to hear a piece once, maybe twice before he could play it. He had quite the ear. You might not know about that. You might only be aware of the eye that he had.
Why aren't you laughing? That was funny.
And wouldn't you think he'd love the dark, grand, tempestuous music? No; he played Mozart's concertos and serenades rather than his Requiem.
You know what those are, of course.
Do you even understand anything I'm saying, or are you a complete idiot? Honestly, some men. Well, it doesn't matter; you can guess. I really don't care if you understand or not. Kind of funny that you're so completely clueless, actually. Well, no matter.
Why was it music? I wonder. He told me about his older brother, the artist, and you dabble, too, don't you? The brother, an egotist to his death, I understand. You're a little harder. Perhaps despite your protestations you need to leave something behind? Well. Even his sister had her little paper cranes, transient things, to be sure, but still a cry, Here I was. Like the child who wanted her illness cured if she folded a thousand of the things. She got her wish, didn't she, or close enough? Immortality in the form of paper and a maudlin little story sentimentalists tell their squalling children. That little girl must be so proud.
For him, though, it was a chord that shook the air, thrilled the ear, but faded away. That was all he wanted.
Or maybe all his pleasure came from the manipulation? From knowing that if he put his finger here and turned his wrist just so, the violin would do precisely what he wanted it to, every time. That too is a possibility, but I can only speculate now.
Let me tell you of Mozart, since you fail so utterly to understand. He was a miserable man. He was also amiable and loud and joyous, but you should have met him. It seemed as though there was no one in the world so sad. Oh, but you should have heard his music. It laughed. How it laughed! Even in the darkest misery, his music was so brilliant and full of love.
Oh, how scary your face is right now! I'm sorry, are you bored? I promise you this has a point.
The point is this: to talk much about oneself may also be a means of concealing oneself. No? Too obscure? Then this: only a child, seeing the day, believes the night won't come. Or, happiness that becomes misery is worse than misery through-and-through. That's the allure of Mercutio.
Or simply this: people lie.
It's rather like playing an instrument, isn't it, lying? No wonder he was so accomplished. He was a prodigy in both. But then, you...
I would put you on wind, actually. I decided just now. You'd be a poorer vocalist than he was, wouldn't you? All out of tune and breathy. Ugh, yes; you'd be a nightmare to listen to. Wind indeed: it lets you pretend you're singing.
So that was him, curved around a cello, a harp, caressing the keys of a piano. Did you ever look at his fingers? Really look at them? They're soft, and warmer than you'd think they'd be. They moved always with such surety. It was truly enough to stir even the coldest heart. It did, even. The first time...No, never mind. Why are you looking at me like that? Say something or don't look at me like that.
And here's you, on the trombone or some such thing. The sort of instrument squalling children play. The tuba, perhaps. Something vulgar. And what kind of lie is it that you play? Something equally ungraceful. You try for a Confutatis, perhaps, or a Lacrimosa, but he never wrote Lacrimosa. A student did. Your attempts to find genius in that one are laughable.
Oh, really now, you're cleverer than you act. You're not even so ignorant as you act. You know the Lacrimosa. It's your song. He, though, he was Verdi. He was Libera Me, the first movement and the last, the cry for freedom hidden in a dying call, the force of the choir lifted in one last enormous noise and clash - but somehow it was bitten off some time before that last soft chord, that grace, that resolution, ten bars from the end. All that was left was the demand without the peace of an answer.
You spent so long looking for him, so long trying to figure him out. Yet this was all there was to him: bass, tenor, alto, soprano, and a crashing orchestra, and a tender violin aria. He was the fugue in the middle of the movement, D, F, and two B-flats two octaves apart. He was a modulated chord that dared you not to cry. What left you so baffled?
Hah, but you're standing by your actions, aren't you? Well done. Just like him. Because you both were just separate pieces in the same orchestra, playing a crass and bloody tune, refusing to watch the conductor. And you, forte and staccato, and he, forte morando, both of you made the piece discordant in the extreme. I cry shame for the conductor, shame for the audience, shame for the harmonies; you look at me with fury in your eyes, cold challenge, and play a little louder.
But I'm sorry, I've forgotten; you're not a musician, are you? You're an artist, aren't you? Well. I wonder what it is you've left behind? Are there half-finished drawings at home? Will there be anything for them to find? Will it be anything worth remembering? I doubt it very much. Some lumpy arms, a head all out of proportion to the hands, an overidealized portrait of a girl too busy to sit for something so trivial, painted from memory. Or were you just too afraid to ask?
I didn't ask him to play for me either. All I had was what I overheard.
Why was it always transience he wanted? I spent so long searching for him. So long. Do you understand? And there will never be hands like that again. There will never be an A minor chord with such sweetness as the day I lay in bed and he played Mozart. I'll never hear that again, and I...
You always choose to melt. All of you. You always choose to fade away. Even you, even his brother, even those thousand paper cranes, they burn and tear and disappear, until it's only me, only me, with the memory of a single chord that's been muddied and distorted by time. He wrote no music. Why didn't you think of that? He didn't write anything. He never wrote anything. He only played, and he played for others.
Well. Isn't that remarkable. It's been a while since something like this has happened.
No matter. You don't understand, and I don't think you ever will. I give up.
Oh, don't look at me like that. Really, don't. This isn't any sort of revenge; I'm no sentimentalist. I've lived too long to seek revenge. I have for you no malice. I have for him no love. I'm too old to bear either. This act has nothing of sentiment, nothing of anger. It is not a song on a cello, and it is not a song on an oboe, and it is not a song on a piano, and it is not a song from my lips. It is not a chess game. It is not a paper crane. It is not a portrait painted in all the wrong colors, a wrist thicker than an ankle. It is no rondo, no requiem, no beauty, no honesty and no lie.
This is nothing more than the coming of night.
This is nothing more than Mercutio.
This is nothing more than the culmination of joy.
This is nothing more than resolving a chord.