jueves, 10 de marzo de 2011

Defining, defying, divine?

I am, honestly, deeply thankful for all your interest with our radio program at Delta FM, and really am very sorry for not being able to answer each one your questions and respond your comments to my twitter account @anandasukarlan . Please don't think that I answer only the questions that I like to, or worth answering, or other reasons. Well, there is one reason that I answer some questions at twitter, and that is because it can be answered in less than 140 characters. Some of your questions need really elaborate answers and I'll try to answer them in the radio program. And please, don't give up tweeting me and listening to our program because you thought I am ignoring you. When you went to the toilet during the program, it was when most probably I was responding your question!

One quite common "misunderstanding" among some new listeners (hopefully turn out to be future fans) of classical music is to think that composers wrote only a few works. Very wrong, folks. Usually a composer produces hundreds of works (and in case of Johann Sebastian Bach or Franz Liszt, thousands!), but it's true that his reputation lies in a handful of pieces of music. Ravel didn't only write Bolero, and neither you can say that it is his best work. It is his most popular, yes, and of course as any works of his, it's incredibly of high artistic quality. But note this: many times, a composer's best works are those which are not the most popular.
Composers cannot be pigeonholed with their "genre" of works either. Tschaikovsky wrote not only ballet music (such as The Nutcracker or Swan Lake) but many many songs, piano pieces and 6 symphonies among others. John Williams doesn't write only film music, he wrote great concertos (for violin, harp etc) and other orchestral works. Verdi and Puccini didn't write only operas. And in my case, some singers think I only write works for voice (which indeed take a big portion of my production: I wrote some 100 songs and 2 cantatas and 2 and a half operas) and some pianists think I write only Rapsodia Nusantara pieces (it's 8 and a half at the moment, only). Aaand, I wrote many many chamber music, for violin, viola, cello, flute, oboe, bassoon, string quartets, as well as choir works.

So, I don't think one has the right to call himself a composer by writing a handful of pieces. Not even with the case of Ignace Jan Paderewski who was the Prime Minister of Poland. He was, first and foremost a pianist and composer. OK, ok, his production went down drastically after he was elected Prime Minister, but before that he was extremely productive.
The same case with an instrumentalist, a pianist for example. One can't claim to be a professional pianist by having a repertory of, say, the same program for recitals and 2 (or even one!) piano concertos. In my case, I have played at least 20 piano concertos, and that's the least quantity of concertos a pianist should have in his hands. My colleagues usually have more than that in their hands. I have a good excuse: I compose too, so half of my time is dedicated to composition! Hehe .. good excuse eh? A composer, a pianist or whatever is like an architect, a medical doctor. It is a PROFESSION, and like in any profession, we do it almost on a daily basis, and therefore we inevitably produce a lot. It can be a lot of rubbish (as in my case!), but that's what you call luck. It's not a thing we do "in our spare time".The best works are struck with luck which we like to call inspiration. And luck or inspiration or whatever you call it doesn't come everyday. But we have to fulfill the needs of those commissioners, whether they are institutions, musicians or whoever who need our music and so we just gotta put our asses to work. No excuses.

Therefore usually composers bring a notebook with us everywhere. That flash of luck can come anywhere anytime, and that's when we write it down, whether in the middle of our sleep, in a dream, in the toilet, on an airplane etc. That thing we scribble down will be used in our works. And I always spare some "boring" tasks such as filling up orchestrations or making a neat score for my "unlucky" days.

Oh dear, I am revealing all the secrets behind the glamour of being an artist, eh? It turns out that we are just simply workers, like most of the rest of the mortals. No mystery anymore in our tasks. No divine involvement. It's so very human. We are not those incurable romantics, daydreaming and doing what we like. Now, do you still think we are special? A work of art is a product of 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, we always say. What a disappointment, eh?