What I’ve included below is a brief selection from Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto:
I will always associate Beethoven’s Piano Concertos with the drive between my parents’ home in Ohio and undergrad in Evansville. 5 hours of thinking, praying, sorting out turmoil. And lots of listening.
These were the days of cassette tapes and CDs, but my Chevy didn’t come with the equipment to play either of these. So I carried a portable tape deck, cranked the volume all the way to “11,” and threw it into the passenger seat (YEAH).
One night, late, I find myself driving over the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky. Lights from the houses are illuminating the inside of my car, casting strange shadows and twirling otherworldly images through the cab. Below me, the deep blackness of the River swirls, elevated up above I can catch occasional reflections from headlights of the swelling Ohio stealthily, silently, overtopping its banks. Sheol incarnate.
It was then, that this piece from No. 4 is playing. The piano runs from the orchestra, branching out on its own, attempting to establish its voice independent from the mass. I can hear as the full orchestra chases after, emitting an occasional burst as the piano tears up, down, and through its G-major scale. Does the piano forget that it is playing a Concerto? Is the orchestra jealous of the piano’s unique voice, calling and falling behind, alternately wooing and scolding?
But still, they are in the same key. The orchestra’s interruptions complement the piano’s fury and passion at exactly the right moments. Through the disjunction, a cohesive singular conversation erupts and roils towards its resolution.
Fury and passion is what I feel today. Birthed from a sense of injustice, stoked by discontent, growing in a feedback loop of seeing with perfect clarity what CAN BE – these can be formidably scary emotions to let out of their cages. They can be harnessed for powerful good, or unleashed haphazardly to reap impossible chaos and destruction.
I find myself wishing for a powerful orchestra to complement these disconcerting desires for change and for good, with the sobering and tempering complement of its voice.