restricted access XVII: A Higher Revelation: Op. 10 NO.1, Op. 109, Op. 111
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XVII 0 00 A Higher Revelation Or. 10 NO.1, Or. 109, Or. III I must despise the world which does not intuitively feel that music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. BEETHOVEN Assuming that the foregoing quotation received second hand from Bettina von Arnim is not apocrypha1,' Beethoven was saying that the creative experience, originating deep within the self, discloses that which was not previously realized through one's intellectual powers. The creative experience is the experience of what something is "like." We can more easily define the phrase "I am" by describing what a particular facet of being is like. Describing what something is like is the role of imagery and the function of adjectives and adverbs. Imagery gives the abstraction a perceivable body. To give an idea of the depth of her feelings of guilt which the audience can neither see nor measure, Shakespeare has Lady Macbeth sleepwalk through the corridors of the castle while the voice of her subconscious reflects that "all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand." Lincoln, writing a letter of sympathy to a Boston widow who reportedly had lost five sons in the war, referred to "the solemn pride that must be yours to have placed so costly a sacrifice on the altar of freedom," sublimating the carnage of the battle to an image of a spiritual ritual for the survival of the nation. Or one might recall, as a moving example of imagery in everyday speech, the Civil War soldier who, thinking of the pOSSibility of his death, wrote his wife that, were she to feel a cool breeze on her face, it would be his spirit passing by. If one is not to play like a note accountant, an awareness of imagery is as necessary for the pianist/interpreter as for the dramatist or the Civil War president expressing constitutional distinctions in legal poetry. Imagery for the interpreter is A Higher Revelation 281 recognizing musical adjectives and adverbs and the implications of a calculated manner of musical speech. In Beethoven, the use of keyboard space immediately comes to mind, the most memorable example of which is the spacing of single lines, piano, five octaves apart, as in the second movement of Op. lll. As another example of the interaction between space and line, the expanding and contracting lines of Op. 101 may be conceived as what "yearning" is like. Or, one might point to the space of approximately two octaves between the hands in the Arietta theme of Op. 111, or the tumultuous effect of widely spaced single lines, fortissimo, at the close of the exposition of the first movement of the same sonata. In Op. 109 the space of more than five octaves between the fifth fingers of one's hands during the reprise of the principal theme, when compared with the opening measures of the movement, is the culmination of a sweeping visual perspective. That which at the beginning was tender and naive is transformed, following the shock of the Adagio espressivo and the ensuing climb up a scalar staircase in the development, into a vision of triumph. Not only in character, the breadth of the spacing represents a triumph as well over the limitation of the number of notes a pianist can play simultaneously. As another example of distance imagery in Op. 109, the space of almost two octaves between the hands at the beginning of Variation VI of the third movement produces the effect of transcendent calm within one's consciousness. Here, as in the Arietta theme and the opening of Op. 110, the four-part writing contributes to the image of composure, in Op. 109 and the Arietta theme, a composure found following turmoil. In the fourth variation of the second movement of Op. 111, the measured triplet thirty-second tremolo (also forming a pedal point) becomes an image of stillness and suspendedness following the joyous syncopated uproar of the preceding variation . When the stationary quality drifts to the treble of the keyboard for the alternating half of the fourth variation, the imagery is that of contemplation, far removed and undisturbed by anything that has preceded. One senses a mystical quality that, in the A-minor segment (beginning in m. 89), lifts the listener to a still higher plane of understanding. Then there is the imagery of the trills, not cadential formulas or pretty ornamentation , but the creation of atmosphere. Or does the extended treble trill at the close...