Tomorrow, January 26, the Tokyo String Quartet gives the U.S. premiere of Lera Auerbach’s String Quartet No. 6, “Farewell,” co-commissioned by 92nd Street Y.
Ms. Auerbach, who excels as a composer, author, poet and painter, painted the canvas above, about her work and the Tokyo String Quartet. She also provided the following commentary:
When I was young I enjoyed writing program notes for my music—I felt it was a way for me to protect it from possible misunderstanding—one last service that a composer could do for his child before it’s fully on its own. I no longer like writing about my music. What I realize is that you can’t protect your “child” and should just let it be without any attempts to explain or defend it. Sometimes letting go is the hardest thing to do. The music is out there on its own. Whether you like it or not, it’s no longer under your control, and frankly, it never was. Revealing the umbilical chord that still ties you, as a composer, to your work only does your music disservice.
Any work of art—a poem, a painting, a symphony, at its best—is much larger than its creator; or at least its co-creator—the one with a pen in hand; the one, who, for better or worse, claims authenticity to its title. Akhmatova wrote, “Who knows, from what dust the poem is born?” (To be more accurate, she used a stronger word—instead of “dust” she wrote, “trash,” or “waste.”) No one knows this, except the Poet. No one should know. Let shadows remain shadows; the dirty dishes should stay in the kitchen and not to spoil the feast.
Let music connect directly to the listener regardless of the composer’s own attempts to interpret its essence. Jorge Luis Borges wrote, “A man sets himself in the task of portraying the world. Over the years he fills a given surface with images of provinces and kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fish, rooms, instruments, heavenly bodies, horses, and people. Shortly before he dies he discovers that this patient labyrinth of lines is a drawing of his own face.
Learn more about the work and the concert.