From the Eighth Symphony, a triumphal hymn addressed to all of humanity, to the Song of the Earth, a humble meditative piece about man and his destiny in the world, the distance spanning the two is immense. When you go from one to the other, you almost feel like you are entering different universes.
In order to explain such a transformation, you only need to consider the three setbacks which Mahler endured in 1907, just a few months after the completion of the Eighth Symphony: first of all, his decision to leave the Vienna Opera House, which for ten years had been both his personal hell and paradise, but in any case his whole universe; then, at the beginning of the summer, the death of his eldest daughter, Putzi, taken quickly by the ravages of diphtheria, and finally, soon after, his diagnosis from a doctor in Maiernigg, which Mahler deemed a death sentence. However, in actual fact, it was only a fairly benign condition, a heart valve malformation, but it would still force him to give up the sports he loved during the summer months.
Furthermore, the misfortune meant Mahler and his wife drifted apart, rather than bring them closer together. They now lived separate lives, torn apart by grief. During the summer of 1907, Mahler immersed himself in reading a volume of Chinese poems which had been translated into German verse, Die chinesische Flöte [The Chinese Flute], a recent gift from Theobald Pollak, an old and faithful friend who had always kept a watchful eye on the couple and their family. Pollak had never forgotten that it was Alma’s father, the painter, Emil Jakob Schindler, that had given him the important administrative position some years before.
In the autumn of 1907, Mahler left Europe for America, where he agreed to conduct a four-month season at the Metropolitan Opera. Certainly, New York was not the ideal place to practice his art and the public was still largely uncultured. However, it would appear that Mahler found this new activity more satisfying than many claimed: he quickly established himself, seduced by the broad-mindedness of the public and the lack of prejudice of a new country. Furthermore, he was delighted to have found the financial security he needed to live with his family peacefully for several months a year. As a result, it was New York that retaught him how to live and work and over time he gradually regained his strength.
But the New York unrest did not heal anything to any great extent. In June 1908, when Mahler returned to Europe and reached Toblach, in the Dolomites, where he would from then on spend every summer, he had to refrain from taking part in his favourite sports, swimming, rowing, cycling and climbing. “This time it is not only a change of place but also a change of my whole way of life. You can imagine how hard the latter comes for me. For many years I have been used to constant and vigorous exercise, roaming about in the mountains and woods and then, like a jaunty bandit, bearing home my drafts. I used to go to my desk only as a peasant goes into his barn, to work up my sketches. Even spiritual disposition used to disappear after a good trudge (mostly uphill). Now I am told to avoid any exertion, keep a constant eye on myself, and not walk much. And then, the solitude, in which my attention is turned more inward, makes me feel all the more distinctly that everything is not right with me physically. Perhaps indeed I am being too gloomy – but since I have been in the country, I have been feeling worse than I did in town, where all the distractions helped to take my mind off things.”
Almost every year, at the end of a busy opera season, Mahler went through a very serious crisis when it came to resuming his work. Never, however, was the transition more painful than in 1908. The inappropriate suggestion of Bruno Walter, who advised Mahler to go on a trip, exasperated him and, in his following letter, the annoyance he felt transcended his irony: What is all this about the soul? And its sickness? And where should I find a remedy? On a visit to Scandinavia? That would have been no more than a distraction. It was only here, in solitude, that I could come to my senses and regain a sense of awareness. Ever since I was overcome by panic and terror, I have only tried to avert my eyes and stop listening. If I am to find my way back to myself, I must surrender to the horrors of loneliness. (…) It is certainly not a hypochondriac’s fear of death, as you suppose. That I must die was something I already knew. But (…) at a single blow I have lost all the clarity and calm that I had ever struggled to achieve and that I stood vis-a-vis de rien. And at the end of my life, I am like a beginner who has to learn how to walk and stand. And as for my ‘work’, there is something distinctly depressing about having to learn everything all over again. I am unable to compose while sitting at my table. Inner activity must be accompanied by outer activity. (…) An ordinary, moderate walk gives me such a rapid pulse and anxiety to the point that I never achieve the purpose of walking – to forget one’s body…”
As the main witness to this summer of crisis, Alma confirmed his state of mind: never did the married couple have such a bleak vacation. Everywhere they went, “anxiety and heartache” followed. However, Mahler was never a man to let himself be knocked down by the blows of fate. Throughout his life, he faced the worst disasters with courage, energy, and relentless determination. Once again, he found salvation in his creative work, in other words by composing The Song of the Earth. The crisis did not even last for that long, four weeks at most. He arrived in Toblach on 11th June; by July Mahler had completed the second Lied, and then, following on from that, the third, first and fourth with the last one being completed on 1st September. To his summer visitors, he seemed transformed: he had become calm and patient. This new experience of emerging from a crisis as a new man was fully expressed in Das Lied. At beginning of September, before leaving Toblach, he wrote to Bruno Walter: “I worked with a lot of zeal (you will deduce from this that I am quite ’acclimatised’). I myself am unable to say what title the piece will bear. I have been afforded with some beautiful moments and believe I have never created such a personal piece of work.”
During the winter, Mahler resumed his job at the Metropolitan Opera and, like before, used his spare time to write out the new score and develop the orchestration. But the piece still did not have a title. For a long time, at least a year, it was temporarily called Die Flöte von Jade [The Jade Flute]. The following winter, back in New York, after completing his Ninth Symphony, Mahler finally scribbled the title on a sheet of music paper: “The Song of the Earth taken from classic Chinese poetry”, then below gave titles to the different movements. Finally, at the bottom of the page, he wrote: “Ninth Symphony in four movements”. Thanks to this innocent ploy, he believed he would not suffer the same fate as Beethoven, Schubert or Bruckner for whom the number ‘nine’ had proved fateful.
The First Performances
For two whole years, Mahler kept the unfinished score for the Lied von der Erde in his office drawer. Obviously, this work touched him too deeply to consider having it performed. However, he entrusted the manuscript to his favourite follower, Bruno Walter. When Walter brought it back to him, too moved to find a word of praise, Mahler spoke only of the conclusion: “What do you think? Is it only bearable? Are people going to want to kill themselves after hearing it?”. He smiled and pointed out a few rhythmic difficulties in the Finale. “How will we deal with this? Do you have even the slightest idea? I don’t!”
Mahler died in 1911 without having fixed a date for the first performance of the Song of the Earth. It was Bruno Walter who conducted it in his place. This performance took place in Munich on 20th November 1911, six months after the composer’s death, during a concert dedicated to his memory. In the years that followed, few posthumous works ever experienced similar success. Das Lied von der Erde did more for Mahler’s celebrity status than any of his other work.
Mahler had always avoided setting literary masterpieces to music, only making an exception for the Faust finale which was inserted into the Eighth Symphony. According to him, the most accomplished poems were self-sufficient and had no need for a musical setting. As a result, his choice was always directed towards texts to which music could bring a new dimension. Following in the footsteps of famous elders such as Goethe and Rückert, Hans Bethge (1876-1946), the author of The Chinese Flute, would spend a good part of his life adapting oriental poems into German. The young writer did not speak a word of Chinese, but that wasn’t important: he was content to translate the collections of Chinese poetry, already published in French by Judith Gautier and the Marquis of Hervey St-Denis, into free verses or rewrite the one published two years earlier by Hans Heilmann in Munich. Tasteful and refined, like an authentic volume of oriental poetry, Bethge’s small collection, Die Chinesische Flöte, included eighty poems, mostly from the eighth century, the glory days for Chinese poetry. They retain much of their original charm, although the adapter added a few very romantic touches here and there, which pleased Mahler.
From Rückert to Bethge, the transition was very natural for the author of the Kindertotenlieder. Both were Orientalists, and both demonstrated the same concision and refinement of expression. In Bethge’s collection, first place belongs to Li T’ai Po (or Li Bai). A keen traveller and senior official at the imperial court, the man nicknamed the “prince of poetry” by his contemporaries, was universally admired for being able to interpret and perfectly form ideas and feelings with tenacity and elegance, while upholding a particular fondness for the pleasures of wine and joys of friendship. We owe thanks to him for the texts contained with the first, third, fourth and fifth songs of Lied von der Erde. However, the authors (Ts’ien Ts’i (or Qian Qi), Mong-Kao-Jèn (or Meng Hao-ran) and Wang-Wei) of the other three poems, set to music in the second and fourth movements, are less well-known. These movements are called “The Lonely One in Autumn” and “The Farewell” and are based on two poems from two different authors who were also friends. These two poems convey the piece’s main ‘message’, and Mahler made them his own by adding many good lines of his own.
The sadness emanating from these Chinese poems struck a chord with Mahler at a time when he was still grieving the loss of his daughter, and this sadness is conveyed in the piece. At a time when he sometimes felt his life was out of control, he became more aware than ever of the beauty of nature, the misery of man, and the brevity of his life on earth. These are three of the main themes of the anthology. Additionally, some of Mahler’s letters and early poems contain whole sentences that Bethge attributes to Chinese poets. The young poet-composer who, at the age of 24, had written:
Weary men close their eyes in sleep,
To learn forgotten good fortune anew!
How could he not be moved to read a poem, some years later, by Mong-Kao-Jèn and adapted by Bethge:
Laborious men go homewards
To learn forgotten fortune
And youth anew in sleep.
Mahler was so mindful of the parallel that, when putting the poem to music, he changed the word “laborious” to “weary”, thus making the two verses by Bethge an almost literal quotation from his own poem.
Before Mahler, no other composer had ever devoted himself exclusively to two such different genres as the lied and symphony. In the Das Lied, it is therefore fascinating to see him, at such a late stage in his career, achieve a synthesis of these two contrasting genres, and moreover showcase the fundamental difference between intimate music, chamber music, and music intended for the masses. A work-crossroads, a work-synthesis; the Song of the Earth brings in to play a new genre, a lieder symphony for two solo voices and an orchestra. Of course, in his instrumental writing Mahler always drew inspiration from the human voice but at the same time he used developmental processes taken from Beethoven. This time, however, the journey goes in the opposite direction: in the beginning it certainly nurtured the idea of becoming a simple Lieder cycle, but gradually developed into a new genre of symphony. As in the Seventh Symphony, the two extreme movements contained within the Song of the Earth are separated by a group of shorter pieces which serve as Intermezzi. The first Song can be compared, in many ways, to a symphonic Allegro, while the character and dimension of the second make it a veritable symphony Andante. For the first time since the Third Symphony, the Finale, one of the most extensive Mahler ever composed, is one huge Adagio. Moreover, the essential message of the piece is communicated by two slow movements which deal with serious subject matters; melancholy, fate and approaching death.
As for the other four pieces, they depict the fragile splendours of life, youth, beauty and drunkenness; drunkenness which, according to Li Tai Po, can alone help one to forget the painful realities created by man. As we will go on to see, the discovery of Chinese music prompted Mahler to adopt certain traits, like the pentatonic scale, and to use instruments closely linked to China, like the mandolin, harp, wind instruments and tambourine. However, it should be emphasised that these exotic touches are more common in the fast movements than in the two slower pieces. A once casual conversation once taught me that Mahler was sufficiently interested in authentic Chinese music to ask a friend to play him some phonograph cylinders, recorded in China and kept at the University of Vienna.
As always with Mahler, the apparent simplicity and spontaneity of the speech included complex technical processes, which became even more apparent in the late stage of his career when his art was firmly directed towards the future. The Rückert Lieder already marked the beginning of a complete integration of the voice into the instrumental fabric, but this time Mahler went further: the voice and instruments were closely interwoven, they come together and give back to each other, over and over again. Another fundamental innovatory characteristic of the Song of the Earth is the fact that the same motifs are frequently used in both the main and secondary parts: this prefiguration is of one of the essential principles of Schoenberg’s and his followers serial compositions, “total -thematism ”. Without wishing to go too far into technical details, I will add that The Song of the Earth also uses a process that the Rückert Lieder only hinted at, what has been called heterophony (or “imprecise unison”) , a principle by virtue of which one simultaneously hears either a melody and its decorated or varied version, or identical voices which diverge slightly from the rhythmic level or intervals. In fact we hear “all kinds of seemingly disparate melodies which are actually combined into a single indivisible sound complex”.
The stripping bare and rarefaction of the melodic material which characterises the greater part of the Final Farewell is also essential as a new phenomenon in the history of music, especially since it is accompanied by a frequent absence of bass strings and an almost complete rhythmic and melodic independence of lines. Not only do we not count three against two (dear to Brahms), but there are four against three, six against four, five against two, three or five against eight … Only a leader of rare mastery can face such formidable difficulties. Mahler himself once pointed out a passage from the Finale to his follower Bruno Walter, asking him: “Do you have any idea how we might manage this? I can’t!” And one last essential point: the whole melodic material contained within the Song of the Earth draws all its substance from a single cell of three notes, La-So-Mi, which belong to the pentatonic scale and is therefore Chinese.
The time has come for a somewhat artificial exaltation, subject to breathlessness making gestures ineffective by causing them to fall back on themselves. The four verses are linked together by a refrain (“Dark is life, dark is death”), always the same one but each time in a different tone. You will hear the first of these refrains in succession, followed by a characteristic tutti in which the leitmotif of the work (La-So-Mi), sometimes increased, sometimes decreased, (that is to say in longer or shorter values ) feeds all parts of the orchestra, from the sharpest to lowest notes.
If you follow the text of the poems during the concert, which I highly recommend you do because it is essential to understand the piece, you will note that the only surge of true lyricism in this first song intervenes when the poem reveals one of the essential “themes” of the piece, that is to say the “blue of the sky” and the Earth which comes to life each spring, the complete opposite of the short piece depicting human life and the “rotten trinkets” (morschen Tande) in the world of men. Towards the end of the Lied, you will also notice the striking appearance of the monkey crouching on the graves. The high register of the tenor voice is heavily used to mimic the animal howling, which leads me to mention one of the fundamental problems with performing the Earth Song. The first, third and fifth songs seem to have been written for two different voices. Finding tenors who have both a sufficiently high-pitched voice and volume for the great tutti of the “Drinking Song of Earth’s Misery” is quite rare, as is finding the delicacy needed for the other two. The first song is a particularly dreaded ordeal for any tenor.
A motionless and continuous string of eighth notes on strings, on which the wind instruments exchange short motifs derived from the main leitmotif, evokes the melancholy of the autumnal landscape, the lake covered with mist, the frosted grass, the withered flowers and the icy wind which makes their stems fall over. Each stanza has a second, warmer element that interrupts the string of eighth notes, but all kinds of asymmetries and irregularities are hidden, as usual, behind the apparent simplicity of the pattern. Towards the end of the Lied, when the soloist alludes to the “sun of love”, a great melodic impulse seems to have definitively conquered the cold stillness of the ascending and descending scales, but in a single measure it falls back into the initial desolation: the “Sun of love” was only a mirage.
To set the “Chinese” backdrop for the three narrative lieder that follow, Mahler uses pentatonic motifs and an orchestration dominated by a triangle, a bass drum, cymbals, a woodwind ensemble and trills of piccolos. The image of beautiful young people talking and writing poetry while drinking tea in “the Porcelain Pavilion” (Judith Gautier) is reflected in a pond. Towards the end of the Lied, the key becomes minor and the passage which I am going to make you listen to seems to me to release a fragrance that is not at all oriental, but distinctly Viennese, with its sinuous melodic line, its characteristic rhythm and its graceful hesitations. From my own point of view, I hear an echo of the Viennese waltz, which is surprising to say the least, given that it is a 4/4 bar
Another piece with a “Chinese” character and marked by a tremendously refined orchestration. The wind instruments take centre stage again, along with the harps and glockenspiel. This time the poem describes an idyllic scene, a group of young girls picking lotus flowers by a river. When a group of handsome, young riders arrives, the scene changes colour and the tempo becomes more hurried. The brass bands and the clash of percussion instruments give the central episode an unprecedented glow which has only seen before in the “military” Lieder of the Wunderhorn and this concern for realism is surprising in a stylized work if ever there was such a thing. The constant accelerando describing the tumultuous arrival of the riders sometimes makes the task of the soloist somewhat perilous, especially when the conductor allows himself to be drawn into unduly hurrying the movement and inflating the acoustics beyond all measure.
The merry horsemen are disappearing even faster than they appeared, and the feminine grace of the first verse again pervades the scene, when “the most beautiful of the young girls” shows the boys her bedroom eyes. You will then hear the entire closing of the Lied, in particular the coda, whose ineffable poetry can go unnoticed first time round. Of course, Mahler always outdid himself when it came to closing a piece, but this transparent and stripped-down coda is nonetheless a model of his genre, a tender and somewhat distant reflection, also slightly nostalgic, about fragile reality, about the “illusion” that is called beauty.
Here again, Mahler, the recluse who, according to Alma, never allowed himself to eat or drink to excess, sings again about drunken forgetfulness. But it is probably not the theme of drunkenness that inspired this choice of poem by Bethge, but rather the return of spring, this annual miracle of nature that Mahler himself had once rejoiced about in one of his first adolescent poems, and which would later illuminate the entire conclusion of the piece. Here comes the advent of spring, symbolised by the chirping of the oboe and small clarinet, while the small flute tenderly evokes the “singing and laughing” bird which announces the arrival of spring.
But the dream is short-lived, and the sobered drinker demands that the cup of oblivion be filled again. As Theodor Adorno noted, “despair mingles with the exultation of absolute freedom, in a region already on the brink of death”.
I hesitate to clutter your memory with comments on this sublime piece, undoubtedly one of the most moving that exists in the entire symphonic repertoire. However, it is not a question of “explaining” this music in which the emotion is so strong and so immediate, but of pointing out to you a host of significant details which could otherwise escape you and which nevertheless all contribute to make this page one of the most brilliant and, at the same time, one of the most overwhelming. First of all, be aware that
Mahler altered a lot from Bethge’s original poems. He brought two together which, although by different authors, have roughly the same theme and follow
each other in “The Chinese Flute”. He also added some beautiful lines to the last poem, such as:
My heart is at peace and biding its time
I’m going to my country, to my home
O beauty, O world intoxicated with life and eternal love!
“With the exception of the middle part of the great Funeral March, which serves as a transition between the two poems, the instrumentation everywhere is extremely transparent and stripped down, one could even say paradoxical. The duration of this Finale almost equals that of the other five pieces put together and is, in all respects, the expressive climax of the piece. Each of the three main parts of the “”Adieu”” is preceded by an orchestral prelude and a vocal recitative. Before the third recitative which precedes the last section, the Prelude amplifies and takes the form of a long and quintessentially Mahlerian Funeral March. Here Mahler unites the rigour of the symphonist, and the profession of the architect-musician, who builds his themes from cells with disconcerting ease and with the freedom of a Liederkomponist who gives himself the air of improvising according to the text. The actual composition here attains a degree of freedom and flexibility such that it is very difficult to make out parallels and recapitulations within each section. In fact, we can interpret this whole piece as one and the same entity over the course of which a great descending and then ascending theme gradually forms,so much so that we can call it a Liebensthema, a “theme of life”, because it will dominate the conclusion to come, and therefore crown the entire piece.
(The same phenomenon happened in the second part of the Eighth Symphony, where the Liebensthema, “”love theme,”” is not fully completed until the final coda.) It was then, and only then, at the very end of Das Lied, that the Liebensthema, which had been drafted and glimpsed a hundred times before, finally blossoms in all its splendour.”
On the first page that you are about to hear, please take note of the extreme rarefaction of the musical material, composed of short melodic cells, all of which are rarely simplistic. They then go on to feed the whole part of the movement that I would qualify as “negative” or “pessimistic”. The sound stripping of these pages was a unique phenomenon at the time, and will remain so until Weber goes even further down this path. Supported by horns, harps and tamtam, the initial low C of the bass strings twice resonates like a knell. Next, the rapid oboe grupetto is followed by another short motif repeated three times, first in thirty second notes, then in sixteenth notes, then in eighth notes, while the horns punctuate the speech in overwhelmed thirds which gradually descend to the lower register. The violins outline a third motif in major which also concludes with crochet rests. Finally, note, shortly before the voice entry, the rapid descending chromatic scale of the woodwind instruments in sixteenth notes. You will find it again and again after each paragraph of the movement, like another pessimistic leitmotif.
In the first recitative, you will immediately notice the striking independence of the flute “commentary” from the vocal line, which stubbornly continues its solitary song, like a dreamy nightingale.
As I have already pointed out, the few brief motifs on the first page will be endlessly transformed, modified, worked and reworked. In the contrasting episode (“Der Bach singt”), the harp and clarinet support the long phrase improvised by the oboe with a simple beat of thirds with a rhythmic and melodic freedom inspired by popular music. After the voice has entered, the oboe slowly unfurls its sonorous volutes, which will be repeated again later, with greater emphasis, by the violins. It is then that the horn sketches out a first and rudimentary version of the Lebensthema.
At the very end of this first section of the Finale, I would like you to notice the reference to birds again. The poem describes them to us as silent and huddled in the branches, but that does not prevent Mahler from suggesting their presence to us using stylized songs. It is the haunting grupetti on the first page of the Farewell, and the beats of thirds which previously accompanied the oboe improvisation, which signal the presence of the winged creature. Taken over by the voice, the same melodic thirds will complete the first part: “The world is falling asleep.” (“Die Welt schläft ein”).
Instead of attempting an analysis that would probably not be of much use to you, I will give you two final quotes to listen to, first the episode that comes after the second recitative. Here, the particularly “far-eastern” colour comes from the strictly pentatonic scale and the spindly tone of the mandolin. These few measures introduce a second and much more elaborate allusion to the Lebensthema. It totally changes the atmosphere and from the desolation portrayed in the opening, it begins an ascent towards the light and a final victory – or rather acceptance.
My last quote is borrowed from the “Farewell” coda. This is the moment where I allude to the blossoming of the Lebensthema in all its fullness, singing “the beloved Earth which blooms again in spring”. Please note that the song is always shared between the voice and orchestra. Also of note are the many counter-effects which adorn, surround, prolong and amplify this sublime melody, and which give it an “open” dimension.
“This “open” dimension was fundamental in the Song of the Earth and Mahler knew exactly how to maintain it until the end of the piece, thanks to the famous A maintained by the flute and the clarinet in the final chord of C major; an A which never descends to ground level and thus gives this whole closing section a timeless character. This final chord is made up of four notes, three of which, La-So-Mi, belong to the Leitmotif of the piece. You will no doubt be spellbound by the tonal transparency of this closing and the magic of the pianissimo chord from the three trombones, and that of the arpeggio fragments produced by the harp, mandolin and celesta.”
This overwhelming conclusion of gentleness, restraint and peaceful faith provides a positive response to the poignant funeral bemoaning which, before the last poem, portrayed the weariness and despair of man, a prisoner of this world. As I mentioned previously, the magnificent lines that complete the book are written by Mahler himself:
The dear earth
Everywhere blossoms in spring and grows green anew!
Everywhere and forever blue is the horizon!
Forever … Forever … Forever
At the end of his short life, when his prodigious mastery plays with all problems of form and constraints, Mahler’s music reached new heights of analysis and contemplative lyricism. The beginning of the turning point started with the Fourth Symphony’s Adagio and the Third Symphony’s Finale (also an Adagio). It was at this point that he composed the great peaceful Finales for the Song of the Earth and the Ninth Symphony. The resignation, or rather acceptance of human destiny, takes on an even more mystical character while maintaining a cosmic dimension. In these big slow movements, the musical material ends up being somewhat scarce, the voices space out and hover in the ether, free from the laws of gravity and the usual constraints of counterpoint and completely independent of each other. Time seems to stop definitively and the law of contrasts is abolished.
Theodor Adorno pointed out that, since Beethoven, Mahler is truly the first composer to have had a distinctive “latest style”. In the last Mahler Adagios, serene acceptance is, in fact, illuminated by a light coming from elsewhere. Mahler had finally freed himself from the physical uncertainties that had haunted him. More than ever, his music opened up to eternity and infinity, especially in the codas, which are so soft and so immaterial that they give the impression of hovering in the ether, waiting for each note to resume its place within the perfect chord. (Furthermore, as we have seen, not all of them find their place since, at the end of the Song of the Earth, the “added” A note remains, almost as if it is suspended in the ether.
The “Farewell” to the Song of the Earth is like the quintessential expression of a conviction that Mahler had at this time of his life, that of “the great upward sweep to perfection, to the purification which progresses with every incarnation”. In this unique moment of Western music, illuminated by an Eastern light which could, in the first movements, have the effect of a simple Chinese decoration, of consolation, peace blowing on the human being which is resolved to merge into eternal nature which blooms again each spring. How could a musician, with such scarce means – an alto voice repeating the same two notes, a few well-chosen instruments, a perfect C major chord and an “added” sixth – suggest, in just a few measures and in such a powerful way, limitless time and space accompanied by accents so painful and yet inhabited by hope and serenity? There is, of course, the fact that music is the only art that can express the element and the whole at the same time; contrasting sensations, opposing feelings, and contradictory thoughts. But still, like Mahler, it is necessary to have reached a higher degree of consciousness to dominate, organise and channel this elusive matter. From the summit of light where his lucid self-discipline has led him, the musician contemplates the totality of the visible and invisible landscape before him. He takes it on, embodies it and gives it back to us.