I’ve just been reading about wonderful performances experienced by Elaine at Random Jottings and I was immediately reminded of one of the best birthday treats of my life. Back in the very late 1970s I was still living at home, in Bath, but was just about grownup and earning my own living. We were lucky enough to have the wonderful Bath Festival held in the city every year and I had usually been involved in fringe events with my drama group. This particular year, I decided that I would buy a ticket to every single lunchtime performance. As they were short concerts, and in the day, they were much more affordable. I worked as a Civil Servant so I saved up plenty of flexi-time so that I could get myself to and from the concerts as well as allowing time for the performances themselves.
I can hardly remember what I saw and heard except for the concert on my birthday. The performer was a pianist, a dark foreigner with a beard. He played Bartok which I believe is probably not the sort of thing for neophyte concert-goers……. but ….
……….. his hands posed above the piano he played as if his very being depended on the music .. the music was alive and I could feel it. I have never before and never since felt that way about any music. I knew it was something special. As a single entity, the audience was bowled over by his performance and we clapped and clapped and clapped and clapped and clapped and clapped until our hands ached. He was so unassuming. He humbly stood and bowed at the end of the piece, almost as if he was thanking us. When the applause would not die down he seemed stunned as though he had not known how well he could play and what an experience it was to hear the music that eminated from him.
I was so pleased that I had gone to that performance not knowing anything about the music or the pianist. No one needed to tell me, I just knew he was an amazing pianist, I could feel it. His name was Andre Tchaikowksy and it wasn’t until he died a few years later that I found out that I “should” have thought he was something special. That is probably the mark of true genius. It is obvious even to those who have no idea about such matters.
When my birthday comes round later this year, don’t bother racking your brains for the perfect present because nothing will ever come anywhere near what he gave to me that day. I tremble now when I remember it and I doubt if I will ever feel like that about anything ever, for the rest of my life.