Friday, September 16, 2011

September 16, 2011

Happiness - no doubt there is much of it now: knowing and simple happiness; happiness from the so-called “little” things in life, like the warmth of the sun on the face or a delightful conversation with a friend.

Today before noontime I went towards the Copley Place mall in order to change some foreign money that I had left from my recent trip abroad. When I reached the area in-between the Christian Science Church and the beautiful pool which stretches alongside it, I decided to sit on a bench and enjoy the pleasant sun. It turned out to be a most wonderful experience. While sitting there, I immediately noticed the change in my view of things. Things that were once discovered are now looked at with a familiar eye. I looked at the water of the pool, admired its ever-so-light wrinkled waves, and felt the extinguished nature of life, the ken that life will not continue forever, that my batteries are indeed being used up, and that there is even a sense of farewell, of saying goodbye, in my view of today that did not exist in my view in the past, when I was younger. Indeed, we are passing guests in this world and we get to enjoy its fruits, and like a women who were dying from cancer said on a TV Show which I watched with a friend in Israel: what we receive from this world, which is so rich in resources and so generous, is so much greater than what we could ever give back. What we give to this world is so little in comparison to what it gives to us: it gives us light, and water and food and the ability to love others and the opportunity to do and create what we love and believe in, and so, so much more. And even more so, it gives us the most wonderful things with an unimaginable generosity and without condition – like a true friend.

I laid down there like a lizard on the bench for a good half-an-hour, maybe also snoozed a bit. It was a rare time of the day in which the warmth of the sun and the chill of mid-September’s wind were mixed in a perfect equilibration. One warmed my body with immeasurably pleasant warmth and the other chilled it with a cool breeze that was so pleasant it was tickling, and as long as this rare statuesque between the two was not interfered, I simply couldn’t reach the decision to get up from the bench. I was waiting for the warmth of the sun or the chill of the wind to grow stronger, waiting for it to become too hot or too cold so that I would want to get up and go on my way… And while I was lying down on the bench, I suddenly saw passing in the purely blue sky above me a stunningly beautiful cloud, the kind that is so wonderful that it is experienced as a revelation. It was so breathtaking and delicate, like a celestial drawing.

In the end, indeed the warmth of the sun’s rays overcame the chilled air and it finally brought me to getting up, not without wondering about the essence of this singular moment of decision, which is so specific yet so random - the particular instant in which it is decided in us to do something, like to go on my way after such a wonderful rest on a bench by the church, next to its elongated reflection pool.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

September 5, 2011

Concert at Burg Namedy Castle and Visit to Katzenelnbogen

On Sunday, September 4 we travelled from Sossmar to Andernach, approximately 400 killometers. We arrived at Burg Namedy castle at around 4 pm.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to visit the breathtaking Burg Namedy castle and to play a concert with Andrei at its magnificent concert hall. Following the concert, we were invited to a dinner with Princess von Hohenzollern and her son and guests. I enjoyed the lively conversation and the extraordinary wine which came from the neighboring winery.

Throughout my visit, I was deeply impressed with the Princess’ inspiring love for art, and her passion for sharing it with the community. We were all humbled by her friendly character and wonderful personal warmth. It demonstrated to me that you can not be a great person without being a real human being. I appreciated her willingness to take the time to talk with us in length about the joys and challenges of owning and operating the castle.

The following morning, the Princess graciously gave us a personal tour of the castle. It was fascinating to hear about its rich history, and to appreciate the true nature of the Burg Namedy castle as a home for the Princess and her family. I also enjoyed very much listening to Andrei and playing myself on the grand pianos in the two distinctively different and equally beautiful blue and red music rooms.

After a heartfelt farewell from the Princess, we drove from Andernach to the town of Katzenelnbogen, where my ancestor Rabbi Meir Katzenelnbogen was born in 1482. Upon the news of our arrival, the Mayor of Katzenelnbogen, Horst Klöppel, invited us to meet with him and Uwe Welker in his office. It was a wonderful meeting and I am very grateful for their hospitality. We were photographed together and Mayor Klöppel kindly gave me a coat of arms bearing the Lion symbol of Katzenelnbogen and the book “Katzenelnbogen und der Einrich” by Rev. Rudolf Herold. I told the Mayor that thirty-two years ago my parents and I visited Mr. Herold at his house in Katzenelnbogen.

Following our meeting with the Mayor, we went to visit the Katzenelnbogen castle. I vividly remembered the stunning castle and felt a strong feeling of homecoming. It functioned as a hotel and restaurant until recently and is currently vacant. I thought to myself with a smile that if I lived in it, my address would be: Eyran Katsenelenbogen, the castle of Katzenelnbogen, Katzenelnbogen.

These two fairytale visits, to Burg Namedy on September 4, 2011 and to Katzenelnbogen the following day, would not have taken place without the good intention and resourcefulness of Gerhard and Bettina Hummer. I cannot express how moved I am by their miraculous friendship and how inspired I am by their kind, respectful and peaceful human nature.

In the photos above:
1. Burg Namedy Castle in Andernach
2. Arriving at Katzenelnbogen
3. From left to right: Gerhard Hummer, Edmitro Vanella, Eyran Katsenelenbogen, Mayor of Katzenelnbogen Horst Klöppel, Andrej Ivanovitch, Uwe Welker (v.l.)
4. Eyran Katsenelenbogen at the castle of Katzenelnbnogen

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June 1, 2011

Outside, a unbearably pleasant wind is blowing. From time to time it can be felt also inside the apartment. I am sitting at my regular sofa-corner, surrounded by pillows, a green mechanical pencil held in my hand, and with it I write on the topmost page of a loose bunch of papers which are placed against my leg on one of the sofa’s pillows – my favorite one due to its smaller, more compact size and practical trapeze shape – against the hard cover score of Mussorgski’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” that serve now at a portable writing surface. This is one of the positions which I fondly call “Nirvana Positions” – one in which it is possible to stay for a long time. But already now, after writing less than a half of a page, I am forced to change the position of my legs and already feel a weak muscular pain sneaking into the pinkie of my writing right hand, surprisingly.

Not too long ago, about a week or so, while sitting here at the same sofa corner, I experienced a feeling of wonderful balance, as I was situated amongst the objects which accompany my life, and I made up my mind to describe soon in detail the living room of my current apartment in Boston, situated close to Symphony Hall and the New England Conservatory where I studied from 1993 and have been teaching, for its Preparatory School and School of Continuing Education, since 1996.

Outside, distance thunders thunder, rolling in the uproar of their non-evil violence, as if angry on this world underneath which refuses to be cleaned by the rain they throw at. Against them, a lonely car alarm defies, and now it has stopped. Still the thunders continue to patrol the heavens, shattering as sea waves against the wall of human existence. An intimate line stretches now from my seat here at the sofa’s corner, through the wind which so pleasantly washes into the apartment and the rain pouring outside, and all the way to these distance thunders, echoing in a wonderful symphony of ferocious timpani drums.

Now, while I write, the thunders turned into a massive thunderstorm. They smash in horrific ear-deafening volume. The rain outside is raging and the wind grow stronger as well. I continue to seat here and write, filled with awe in the presence of the forces of Nature.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

January 7, 2011

It is Friday, and tomorrow we are going back to teach at the conservatory after the Christmas break. I’m trying to figure out in my mind if we had two or three Saturdays off, but I’m too lazy to get up and look in the datebook.

Until last year I used to buy a yearly datebook from a company that would send it to me in the mail. I liked very much that particular datebook, and thought that it would be very difficult for me to switch to another one. About a year ago, when I wanted to order a new datebook, I found out that its price went up. Since during that time I was reviewing all my regular expenses in order to save, I decided not to order again the datebook and switch instead to a system of printing out weekly and monthly datebook pages from Outlook on the computer and paper-punching them into a folder. I thought that I would regret this cheep decision, and that every time I would use the new datebook I would be unhappy about not using the old beloved one. To my surprise, the complete opposite happened. The new system reveled itself to be much preferable to the old one. It allowed more writing space and also more flexibility, since you can add and remove pages easily as needed. But the real reason that I am telling all of this here and now is that this became a symbol and an example for me for how sometime we develop dependency on something and only after we give it up we understand how easy it is to live without it. This year I’m continuing my efforts to get rid of anything that is not needed. It is not easy, and I fully admit that because of my compulsive-obsessive tendency, I tend sometime to spend much valuable time on organizing instead of dedicating the time to create. The balance between the two things is problematic in my life, since I can spend days and months doing work that is related to music without getting to play at all. At the moment I don’t have a playing routine. On the other hand, I sit days and nights on the computer. There is always another email, always another press release to write, another webpage to design, another application for a grant, for studies, for work – it simply doesn’t end. Just now, for example, I sat before starting to write this and read emails. It took two hours, from 8:40 to 10:40 in the evening. I found another venue that it would be nice to try and perform in, called Loft in Köln, Germany.

All of this leads to the desire to get back to “One Time” and bring the book, which I started writing in 1989, to a point that it could be published (as it is really a diary, I deliberately refrain from saying “finished”). I admit that I am afraid to go back and read between its lines. Memory, even tough it is a gift of grace among the most beautiful and important in our lives, knows so well also how to pinch the heart. Again I will read the days of youth that have passed and will not return, experience my love in the magic of its youth days which have since matured. It is not easy. And still, there is no choice. I wish that the same way the new datebook brought joy to my life after I feared sadness, so would the renewed reading in “One Time”, in order to bring the book to its publication, would bring a new wind of happiness in my ripening life.