domingo, 25 de octubre de 2009

The ghosts of the Young Dead Soldiers

Hey, it's Narcissism time!. But I can't help it, I am a composer. We are creatures of continuous self-doubt so we need, once in a while, a boost for our ego. Besides, what's wrong of being self-congratulary sometimes ? So, I have a declaration to make, besides quoting Oscar Wilde's answer at the immigration office at a certain harbour "I have nothing to declare besides my genius" for the question "Do you have anything to declare?".

My own music which I love the most until now is the song "The Young Dead Soldiers do not Speak" from my second cantata, LIBERTAS. If a dictator suddenly appears and tells me to burn all my work, I'd burn all of them but would ask to spare that piece. Not even the whole Libertas cantata. The work itself doesn't have complex rhythms or polyphony, no innovative twists nor it is brilliant in any ways ; it is just the music which really came out of my head. Every note of it. Like when you open the tap, the water just flows, and perhaps I wasn't even so critical about it when I wrote it. It is even filled with recitatives, and as you know recitatives are NOT meant to be beautiful, nevertheless, I just love it, deeply. Of course it was also due to the fantastic performance of the world premiere, when all the musicians were so commited and very passionate. And that's another thing : when I wrote it, I knew it will be sung by my dearest friends whose dedication to music is a bit more than 100% : the baritone Joseph Kristanto and the ITB Choir and its conductor, Indra Listiyanto. They and their love to music are very inspiring to me. Without them in my mind while writing it, the piece would sound different.
In fact, nobody has explicitly told me that that particular piece of music touched them deeply, or other flattery things about it. People told me that they have been touched deeply by my other pieces (some of them don't have the high esteem from their own composer!), and somehow I know that "Dead Soldiers" is not, and perhaps will never be included in "Ananda's greatest hits" in the future. So, I guess that my (musical) taste IS quite peculiar ... and again it's a proof that my taste doesn't coincide with the public's taste.

But being proud of one's particular creation brings certain problems. I always try to set my own standards both to my compositions and to my piano performances. Since finishing LIBERTAS, I felt that I would like to write another "dead soldiers", but I just can't. It's like I compare everything I wrote afterwards with my dear dead soldiers. Either I am making a bad photocopy of it, or I am trying to make something completely different, but nothing has satisfied me as much as that moment when I finished writing the Dead Soldiers. So, I think I'll have to forget it completely for the time being ... which will be difficult because it (with its companions that formed the whole LIBERTAS cantata) will be performed again at the Jakarta New Year Concert on the 3rd of January. And I will be involved, deeply, in its performance. So I'll just have to live with those young dead soldiers, just as the poignant text of Archibald MacLeish's poem :"They have a silence that speaks for them at night." And their silence, my friends, speak louder than the loudest screams.