Don’t be scared of life, of the cold anonymous world.
Cut the wires that feed your fears.
Live today as if it would be the last day left on the face of Earth
Even if everything may crumble around you.
Don’t listen to your clutched fists
Don’t hear the bad words flying around you.
Don’t hide from your dark side.
You have yourself and your gentle thought rising above your eyebrows.
Join your heart for a ride deep inside yourself,
Turn your arms towards who you really are and embrace your soul.
When you will be your own friend
You will never feel empty again in your silent corner of the loner.
111 words, Memyselfandela, November 2013
Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy having written.
My silences breed stories.
I translate my dreams and memories, though I often write for others
making their voice sound good.
At the end of each day, I re-visit my thoughts,
straining them, planting them, feeding them.
When I was a child, I believed anything was possible.
I’m now growing that seed in a flowerpot.
63 words, Adela Galasiu 2016
It was a kind reminder of a Saint’s day
moved too soon in the life after life
where flowers never wither, and rivers are always fresh,
and the human heart is forever coherent.
John has not killed any dreadful dragons
still, in a humble sacrifice
he has blessed others and has made possible the glory
of the true Life.
I have found these faint memories
in the depths of an imaginary drawer
with fields of gold tenderly waving in the wind
like the breath of my father on his birthday.
Dedicated to my father, John, born on St. John’s day, June 24th.
90 words, Adela Galasiu, 2016
I have looked death in the eyes few times. For others but also for myself. I have been often told that there’s no God and no afterlife, but folllowing my encounters with death I guess I am too convinced of the contrary to listen to those sceptic voices. I do respect what other people think, but respecting others will never reduce my beliefs to nothing, on the contrary.
Most of the people have an absolutely disgusted look on their face when they hear about death. Some venerate it. Some fear it to the extent that they don’t even want to think about it. We’re all aware it exists. Most of us cannot understand it. But the same death that means decay, foulness, nothingness and still, is part of us just as much as it has been part of our ancestors too.
People turn their face away from death because they are scared or because they have been taught that it can bring disease or that it is unclean. Or because they prefer to concentrate on the life, rather than see the whole process, black and white, doing and undoing, life, death and new life again. For the immediate you and me, what matters is today, what we do, what we have, what we eat, where we go. But we live in a society that is equally one of death as much of one of life, isn’t it? Or maybe even more one of death than one of life? We eat meat, we cut flowers, people hunt, people get cremated and buried or offer their bodies to science. People sell weapons and wars are being fought. Some people thrive while others starve to death.
There is not only the beauty and goodness daily put on display for sales targets, but also the reverse side of it all. There are not only new born babies and blooming flowers, but also dead people laid to rest and entire systems that revolve around death itself. From the undertakers that earn a fortune while dealing with grieving families to the little beetles that eat decaying flesh, all have a little part in it.
Some of the birds that have nested last year have died, and a suite of insects and plants contribute now to taking apart and redistributing every material atom of them. Every little creature and plant that dies gets quickly surrounded by a cortege of creatures, just like a circus that comes to town and gets very busy before the show. Behind the scenes of it all nothing gets saved or lost, but everything is transformed in new matter for life, and so new life can find the raw minerals needed for it to emerge again.
Many years ago, as I was dealing with the water that was trying to find its way into my lungs, I had forgotten who I was or what I wanted from life. What I had eaten that morning or what I had in my bank account had no meaning at all. It was all worthless and the only thing I could gasp for was a breath of air. I was, I guess, not different than a wounded bird that beats its wings one more time before it takes a last breath. A little part of me knew that it could have been the final moment that day. And yes, it was scary. Scary because I had no idea what was about to happen. Horribly scary because I had no control over my own life. There and then I was not ready to give up. Between few heartbeats and a hope for air it occurred to me that I had not appreciated life truly until then. And God how I wanted to live!
In a mysterious way, a hand has been stretched my way. Not only a friendly material hand, but also a divine one. Then, when I finished coughing, with a horrible salty aftertaste and a stomach full of seawater, feeling sick and wet, I thought that it was not the time to go just yet, not until I would have learned the lesson of what life was all about. I think I was determined to take life more seriously.
I think I understand life and death more now, but like any person that has been sightless for many years, I am now awfully blinded by the intense light of the truth. That moment of salvation, the spark of life in my veins and the thought that accompanied them cannot be the result of an evolutionist theory, they are rather a mystery that my human mind is not ready to embrace just yet.
Other creatures are unaware of the realities of our human life. Birds and animals and plants cannot understand our complicated life and needs, our food, our languages, our customs. They do not consider themselves the greatest in the universe like we do. They have no idea what mathematics or science are, yet they are very much alive and lead a simple happy life. There are a limited number of neurons in our skulls, how could they possibly perceive the infinity of the universe? It is impossible. I am convinced that us humans cannot understand the whole complexity of life, all the dimensions that surround us, all the beauties of the universe and even less the mystery and greatness of the Creator of it all.
900 words, Adela Galasiu, 2016
Photography: Adela Galasiu, May 2016
Motto: “If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start…
It’s the only good fight there is.” Charles Bukowski
Today is a gift. I am grateful to be here, feeling alive. I breathe in. I listen to a ring-dove singing in the tree next to me. I take in the air, the light, the smell of yesterday’s rain. Bumblebees come out sleepy trying to make up for the food they could not collect yesterday, hovering over lavender bushes and peppermint flowers that wave gently in the breeze. God smiles over us. The sun shines through the branches of the chestnut tree, my flowers bloom in the garden, their colours vibrating live a song in my eyes. Maybe they are, just like me, a part of God’s dream. Or maybe they are just a form of different frequency than the one of my soul. Maybe they are just strings that God plays with , like one plays a harp. It all makes sense, even though often my mind cannot even grasp the beauty of it all.
I drink a glass of water and contemplate life, like I do every once in a while, like we probably all do. Some people think that knowing that time is precious can make you lead a better life. What would I tell you if this would be my last day?
I’d say I’ve lost many things in this life, and sometimes it has felt like I’ve lost it all. Friends, time, love, children, relatives, sometimes even my mind. I’ve eaten too much or nothing for days. I’ve eaten my own bitterness and I drank the poison of my own ink-black thoughts. I’ve been freezing in train stations and on park benches thinking of why certain things happened in my life, feeling sorry for myself. I thought I was sometimes carrying too much luggage, but I think that was more the burden of my own life. Yet I have found out later that many of those things I’ve never really had, that they were never meant for me.
I have seen derision. And it was not the one coming from strangers that has hurt the most, but the one seen in the eyes of people I have helped out of their own ditch and considered friends. They say in my language that “the ones you don’t let die, will not let you live”. It was painful to find out what character some people really had. it has been gutting at times. Now it does not hurt any more, I have come to terms with all my experience. I have become older and hopefully wiser. I have learned not to regret things and I am mostly good at it, even though I can still catch myself doing it sometimes. I’ve often done my best and I know now that what people give is certainly what people will receive later in life.
Isolation? It is not a monkey thing. It feels sweet. It is not for everybody, I know it can be torture for others. But solitude is my gift. After all the pain induced by many things coming from the outside, my isolation meant discovering myself and finding peace, listening to my own soul tuning in with the one of the universe. And that is bliss.
Rejection? Yes, I felt plenty of that. I was one of those people that can feel like outsiders. Until I realised that I would have never belonged in certain circles of people or in the toxic environment that comes with them. So actually this was not a rejection, it was a discovery. It took me years to see that God had better plans for me , that He was opening me the right doors while I was trying like a stubborn child to open the wrong ones, again and again.
This is my path and you all have your own. Life is a journey. Some people learn from it, others get to the end of it not understanding anything, feeling bitter and angry. It may not be easy to walk on your own path, but it’s your quest. It all depends on how much you want it. And if you want it truly it will be better than anything you have ever imagined. It will equal conquering all your fears, it will mean finding your true self and facing God at the same time. Your days may be hard, but your heart will flame with the fire of all the passion you have in you. It will not be life that breaks you, but it will be you riding your own life.
I am only a tiny soul in an immense ocean of souls. All different, yet all the same. When I think of this I imagine a sky full of stars. The universe is immense, but we all have our own space, our own inner light and our own trajectory. I am trying to grasp what this life experience is all about, maybe just like you all. I’ve seen a lot and I still know almost nothing. But one of the few things I know now is that we should not be afraid, we should not let worry dry out our soul. Life is joy and we should experience the joy of being alive, the experience of our soul having a material body and interacting with others.
There’s no path, make your own. Be bold, be strong, be yourself. Try it, go all the way, it’s the best thing of all.
900 words, memyselandela, August 2015
Photo: Lavender, Adela Galasiu, August 2015
A tribute to Dinu Lipatti, “Greatest pianist after Frédéric Chopin”( as Yehudi Menuhin said).
Tribut lui Dinu Lipatti, “cel mai mare pianist după Frédéric Chopin” (dupa cum a spus Yehudi Menuhin).
“Lipatti- Sonata for the good man” is a sensible portrait of the composer, pianist and teacher Dinu Constantin Lipatti. The documentary brings to light , from the still rich TVR(Romanian Television) Archive, anthological interviews with Florica Musicescu, Nadia Boulanger, the two biographers of Lipatti, Grigore Bărgăuanu and Dragoş Tănăsescu, and Menuhin.
You are watching a documentary signed by Ruxandra Ţuchel.
„Lipatti- Sonată pentru omul bun” creionează un portret emoţionat al celui care a fost compozitorul pianistul şi pedagogul Dinu Constantin Lipatti. Documentarul aduce la lumină, din Arhiva încă bogată a TVR, interviuri antologice cu Florica Musicescu, cu Nadia Boulanger, cu cei doi biografi ai lui Lipatti, Grigore Bărgăuanu şi Dragoş Tănăsescu, cu Menuhin. Urmăriţi un documentar semnat Ruxandra Ţuchel
memyselfandela, © Adela Galasiu, 2015
Video source: Youtube.
This is a simple story that happened in the moonlight. A story streaming from my own life. A story about a small moment that will remain for life in my memory.
Maybe many of you have a favourite band. And I bet many of you have hoped or dreamed To get the unique moment to meet the vocalist they like so much , or shake hands with the guitarist they consider to be the best in the world- maybe it is not so for others, but it is so for them.
My very favourite Romanian rock band is Luna Amara, a Romanian alternative rock/grunge band. The name means “Bitter Moon” in Romanian, and has been borrowed from the Roman Polanski movie of the same name, inspired by Pascal Bruckner’s novel with the same name.The band was formed by Nick Făgădar (vocals, guitar) and Gheorghe Farcaş (bass guitar) in Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania, in September 1999, in Romania. I had the chance to listen to them first time live in Sibiu, and I have discovered them much more after I left Romania in 2011.
Luna Amara has played on stage over 200 times in the past years, throughout Romania. As a live act, this Romanian five-piece outfit has a style that combines heavy metal with alternative rock. Luna Amara is also the first Romanian band to introduce the trumpet sound into an Alternative Rock style, a struck of genius in my humble opinion.
All the artists in the band try to dedicate their lives to promote and support a modern European society in Romania. Beyond the poetry in the love songs , their lyrics have often a political message, Luna Amară being also involved in ecological projects such as “Save Vama Veche” (protecting the endangered seahorses), “Save Roşia Montană” (protecting the wildlife and natural surroundings of a mountain area from cyanide poisoning caused by companies that extract gold) and other social awareness projects.
“Luna Amară” is one of Romania’s most successful rock bands and was the top selling artist in a national chain of music stores (Hollywood Music & Film) from July until September 2004. Their songs “Folclor” (“Folklore”), “Gri Dorian” (“Dorian Grey”), “Roşu aprins” (“Scarlet”) and “Ego nr. 4” reached number one in airplay charts at local radio stations around the country.
Throughout the years they have released several albums: “Asfalt” (Asphalt), “Loc lipsă” (Missing Place), “Don’t Let Your Dreams Fall Asleep”(where mainly the acoustic side of the band is underlined), “Pietre in Alb” (Stones in White), “Live la Conti” (Live at Conti). The band performed tours all over Romania in clubs and open air locations as well as shows in the Netherlands, Germany, Bulgaria, Turkey and played live at the Sziget Festival in Budapest.
They may be neither angels, nor heroes, but they are some extremely talented people. It is more than their personal love and feelings decanted in their music, it is also their passion and talent for music. I used to detach myself from stress listening to Deftones, Metallica and Incubus, but they are nowhere near Luna Amara. At least to me, because I am Romanian and Bitter Moon sing the longing and the pain in my native language. But it is not only this. I have discovered such beautiful blue sad profound lyrics attached to their music. They contribute with amazing poetry, not only with extremely versatile sound. Their songs are colourful, they bleed and ache, they are just beautifully alive.
Two years ago when I was back in Romania for few days I have tried desperately to buy their “Stones in White” album, yet no music shop or online store had it available, it was sold out. After a long online research I managed to find a link and I was promised to get the album the next night, when I was going back to Cluj in the evening for my next morning flight back to the UK.
The evening came, I took a taxi and we drove in the evening to the address where the recording studio was. It was a very simple encounter, but it has struck me very profoundly: Nick Fagadar, the founder of Luna Amara, met me almost in the middle of the night because he cared that somebody really wanted to have their album. He handed it to me with a kind smile , he shook my hand like a friend , with no pretentious gestures, and wished me to enjoy the music. I have been truly honoured not only to get the long desired album, but mostly by getting to meet in person the legend behind it.
There was something beautiful that I cannot describe radiating through him as we left him behind. I could not help but smile. The moon was shining, yet this time not bitter, but full of hope and mysterious meanings.
800 words, Memyselfandela , 2015
Memory. One of the strongest muscles in our being. It can contract and ruin your life crushing you underneath or it can gently lift your soul in the light, no matter what life throws at you.
When I was a child my grandmother used to have in a corner of her garden a columbine that used to grow again and again every year. I remember how fascinated I used to be as a little girl by the filigree shape and the delicate yet robust structure of this flower. I could study it day after day when it bloomed or when it’s petals were falling. I used to be very caring with the flowers. And when I say flowers, I mean beings, living creatures that I respected deep in my child’s heart. It never ceased to amaze me and make me happy whenever I saw it, because only there, in that corner of the garden, hidden in shadow under a lilac tree one could have found my columbine. There were no others, it was unique and the neighbours had none. It’s incredible how simple things that adults don’t even notice can be such an awesome thing for a child.
Many years I grew up with the beautiful columbines, studying them as they opened their purple-blue flowers. Columbines meant holiday, freedom and childhood. Not in so many words, but with a warm cosy feeling deep within. Words meant nothing then, only the heart was full of feelings and of a light that an adult is losing somewhere on the way.
This year I was contemplating my bare garden, frozen and with no trace of life. Then suddenly an incredible invisible force, a singular touch of grace has awaken the life in the sleeping buds and wrinkled flowers that rose their heads and stretched their beings in the warm sunshine. Then mesmerised I have discovered hundreds of columbines.
Is it God’s message that life is beautiful and full of diversity on a multitude of layers at the same time? Or is it just a cosmic coincidence? No matter what it is, it has brought back to me that warm cosy feeling in the midst of a busy life full of stress. The morning when I saw the columbines bloom I felt how one must feel when they win the lottery. To others this means nothing. To me it means the return to innocence.
400 words, memyselfandela, June 1st 2015
Photo: Adela Galasiu, May 2015
It was a cold winter afternoon when the news of losing her husband had struck her worst than the lightning. Shocking. Scary. Heartbreaking. Cruel. This news never comes easy, but there was a sense of cruelty in the easiness with which the words have been spoken by her brother in law who did not even realize that it was not his father John that had been found dead, but his brother John, who happened to have the same name but who has been living at a completely different address. It was ironic that he did not understand the obvious when he received that fatidic phone call, but when she heard about it, she was the only one who did understand. In that moment of truth, in the presence of her daughter, her whole universe has crumbled in a moment. Her child has stood still by the sound of her excruciating loud scream, a voice of despair never heard before. A scream announcing a lot of suffering.
Then came a long time of waiting for the confirmation of her loss, most probably the longest night in her life. They had gone to bring back home his dead body and she was helpless, she had to wait with her child for the moment when she would see him dead with her own eyes. Her heart was broken in two. Her mind was telling her that he was gone, yet her soul refused to accept it and hung on any glimpse of hope. She tried to phone and find out more, she tried to get help from people around, yet nobody seemed to care and all others seemed to stay out of this tragedy that was left only on her shoulders. When there’s pain, nobody seems to want to know it, all seem to turn their back and refuse to be close to it. A solitude understood only by the hurt ones.
With her family hundreds of miles away, she had spent a whole terror night hiding in a corner of the flat, finding comfort only in embracing her daughter while whispering through the tears “it cannot be him, no, he is not dead…Yes, it is him, it can only be him living at our address… no, it cannot be him…” An agony that would have gone unknown to anyone but God. Sounds of bullets fired outside the building, in the near proximity and in a distance, have tormented the whole night. A night of such an acute solitude and emptiness that she nearly lost her mind.
Making it through the madness of what is now known as the Romanian Revolution in 1989, her brothers and sisters have defied any fear and have taken all the same train, coming to bring the deserved consolation for the soul that did not have the strength to express the loss and pain anymore. Their embrace was similar to the wing of an angel covering a broken soul.
His soul was still floating among us while we were crying by his side while we were saying goodbye. In a little village church lit up by many candles, on Christmas day, in that small room full of a whole community of relatives and neighbours, he must have seen his wife kissing his forehead for the last time and his daughter being taken away while reaching her hand for the last time towards him as they were nailing the top of his coffin. He must have known he was loved and missed. He must know he is loved till the end of time.
It is all very vivid in my memory. People say time makes memories fade, yet this memory stays the same, it opens in my mind with the same brightness of a light that suddenly illuminates a very dark room. It was and still is painful. Yet it is also the loving memory of my beloved father. It is also the love for my dear precious mother, a woman who has been through so much in life. I was the witness, I was the child, and somewhere in my heart , at this time of the year, I still am. Back there, 25 years ago.
She had not written for many days, weeks, months, it felt rather like eons. Struck by a fierce silence, she didn’t find the words any more. Painful silence, coming from deeper than the words can say. From deep within where thoughts do not have time or do not dare to descend in normal days that gallop worst than wild horses. Life seems to have stopped and unfolded in front of her eyes with a sort of cruelty that she did not know how to swallow. Cruelty or acute sarcasm. As if life itself would have smiled at her with half a face and smashed her badly with a slap coming from the opposite side.
Yes, life is sarcastic and unfair. Who told you that there are happy ending stories? There may be many fairy tales, but not many real happy endings. She did her best to make things happen but at some point she understood that she has no power over life itself, that life is a far bigger force than she can even understand with her mind and that all she can do is to accept with humiliation that in some ways she has lost the battles long before they have even begun.
Shredded often between her beautiful imagination and the cruel reality, she had learned that the most powerful thing one can do in this life is to survive. And the most crazy to dream. She has never dared to lay on paper all her thoughts, out of fear that if she would have done so, maybe the whole reality would have cracked over her. Yet in moments when nobody noticed her, she has dared to close her eyes and without a word to imagine a parallel world where everything was different than in this one.
There was in the end no lesson she could have cascaded on others. No great wisdom and no big prise. She had only learned that she knew nothing and as such, she stopped talking about life. She stopped complaining and equally she stopped rejoicing. She had reached a state of acceptance that was similar to the shell of a tortoise, trying to keep the very core of her far away, deeply hidden from any pain.
In an untold resilience her spirit has lost many other souls, even the ones she has loved the most. Their voice has faded just as sudden as it has made itself heard. Their presence has stopped shining a warmth of goodness and joy in her existence. Yet she was adamant she did not lose them completely and she will once again have the blessing of meeting them all. In her fantasy at least.
On the corner of a little table hidden in a tea room where nobody stopped today because of the horrible weather, she broke her silence, but allowed the secrets to remain in the deep hidden corners of her soul, brewing there, unknown to others, yet ready to emerge one day, truly full of magic.
500 words, memyselfandela, November 2014
You can reach from your distant world
my caged sea of dreams
and my head resting on your sands, in a thought.
Hungry eyes gaze full of unspoken stories
lost in this wind, flying, diving, jumping
in this phase of time that belongs to us.
Memories, white and blue
embrace your bones, fill up my breath
dissolving in this finest infusion of light.
Poți atinge din lumea ta îndepărtată
mare mea de vise incuiate
și capul meu rezemat pe nisipurile tale, într-un gând.
Ochi înfometați privesc plini de povești nespuse,
pierduți în acest vânt, zburand, scufundându-se, sărind
în această fază a timpului care ne aparține.
Amintiri, albe și albastre,
îmbrățișeaza oasele tale, umplu respirația mea
dizolvandu-se în aceasta minunata infuzie de lumină.
63 words, memyselfandela/ Adela Galasiu June 2014
Photo: Adela Galasiu, May 2014
After 2 months of waiting here is the episode where I had the honour of sharing my story too. My contribution is dedicated to my beloved father, Ioan Galasiu and to Gershwin’s beloved Rhapsody in Blue. Many thanks BBC Radio 4. Adela Galasiu, 2014
Yesterday lovely Nicola Humphries, BBC producer and wonderful woman with a big heart, has given me the opportunity to tell a story.
It has all started with my beloved Rhapsody in Blue and Gershwin, but for me this represents the tip of my soul iceberg. I have dived very deep in my past to the times when I was a happy child. I have spoken about life in the Communism, oppression, the tragic death of my father which has coincided with the beginning of the Romanian Revolution on the 22 of December 1989. I have tried to describe life as it was, but time was short and words don’t come always easy. I have had moments when my mind has frozen and when I could not find my words as in the back of my eyes I have kept my tears, because I cannot get back in some moments in time without feeling again all that intense pain.
I am in love with music because it has always been for me a gate to freedom and a window of hope in the darkest moments. I have remembered the most intense moments that I have lived and witnessed, the blood on the streets of Sibiu, the fear when people were shot, the agony of not knowing what was happening with my father when he did not come back home, the death striking my family when we have least expected, the love and the absolute loss.
I may be different than other people given the intensity of situations that I have lived, things that could have made other people get insane. I have been through things that normally do not happen to other people. Those have been moments that have not destroyed me, but made me stronger. This is one of the reasons why I write and I have started my blog. I believe that despite all pain, beyond all loss, life is both a path and a fight. We can all create a better path and win our battle. I truly believe that none of us should give up, that we should all have peace of mind and hope in our heart for the day to come. I believe it because I have been myself on the edge of despair and I have looked into the abyss of depression many times in my life.
As I came out of the BBC I have entered the Church of All Souls. I believe nothing is accidental. I have been not given the chance to speak about me alone, but the chance to recall and mention my mother, my father, my love, my loss, my hope. Maybe it was a way of setting myself free and closing a deep pain of the past, a bleeding succession of losses that I have lived with for a long time.
500 words, memyselfandela, February 2014
Photos: Adela Galasiu, February 2014
Many thanks to wonderful Nicola Humphries and BBC 4, Soul Music.
The absolute solitude embraces the caryatids but has not forgotten the smile in your eyes.
I spend my days with my rebel freedom, with the stone kings and the frozen time.
Life continues to pulsate in the depths of my heartless veins.
On the same stairs where you were holding my hand
The rain has replaced the sound of your footsteps beside me.
Your wish for happiness has not yet extinguished my soul.
I write like a lunatic on the corner of every table I happen to find,
In the silent places where I have once been with you.
Lunatic. Yes, I am a lunatic. The absolute lunatic for loving you.
111 words, memyselfandela, February 2014
Entwined on spiritual levels.
Our aetheric bodies
We are souls inhabiting here
Physical bodies for a glimpse.
Beyond all this experience
We are all
Photo: Adela Galasiu – On the Stairs of the Church of All Souls, Regent Street, London
Tonight I could write the saddest poem of all, yet I choose not to.
Lights draw constellations for muses and the skies have stars in their eyes.
I loved him and often he loved me too.
Just as love is eternal, he once belonged to my ardent kisses.
On nights like this he held me in his arms.
He kissed me so many times under infinite blues.
Tonight I write this poem left glowing in the dark:
Not one of pain, but the one of a love full of passion.
90 words, memyselfandela, 2014
Behind the fences of my soul
Where foxes did not need to hunt
And hares lived in bliss
I had grown you my garden of roses.
The wolf and the lamb in my heart
Were living always together,
No affliction or fear had come upon them
In the quiet shelter of this world.
You have come and then left like a thief
Greedily taking my defenses
, merciless crushing my peace.
Now that I’m broken and cold like a dying stone,
Away from all sanctuary, my heart blooms your last rose.
Photos: Adela Galasiu
90 words, memyselfandela, 2014
Today I offer you a rhapsody from my heart. An effusively rapturous and extravagant discourse. My expression of enthusiasm and praise for a musical piece that I absolutely madly deeply adore.
Whoever has read my blog in the past knows that I am passionate about Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. I have written about it in the past and I listen to it every once in a while when I am happy or when I recharge my inner batteries. Yesterday, as I read one very surprising comment on my blog, I have realised that I have never taken the time to put together all the reasons why I love this musical piece so very much.
The comment came from a BBC Radio 4 producer who is researching for a programme about Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. I was first of all completely surprised that my post about Gershwin even showed up in an online search. But it was even more exciting for me when I had the joy to discuss on the phone with the producer and I was asked what feelings this particular piece of music awakens in my memory and heart.
If I want to explain what I feel about it I need to rewind my whole life. My memories of it start in childhood when I heard this piece on the radio and have simply fallen in love with it. Coming from a family that loved music, I have listened to both classics and modern music as I grew up. I have fed my spirit with opera played on old magnetic cassettes, with Chopin and Beethoven, with Ravel and Vivaldi, just like I have fed my soul later on in my life with the music of the 80’s and the rock music. When I was a child music was a great joy for us, as in the communism we did not have access to all the variety of entertainment that one can experience now. It was only natural that I fell in love with this piece that infuses Jazz, Impressionism and classical elements molten in a 20th Century romantic theme offered with brittle and quirky interruptions.
This appreciation for the Rhapsody in Blue has continued throughout all my life. Every time when I was defeated and low I have sat and listened to it. Unlike other people with linear lives I have been through many changes, I have witnessed a lot of pain, loss, death, suffering, but also love, joy, sacrifice and hope. Wherever things were worst in my family I was present. Throughout this all, whenever I have listened to this piece of music I have added another pearl of feeling to what has become now a very long string. To me it is now not only music, but a masterpiece and pure beauty. And because it has been with me through it all, happy moments, sad moments and great changes, it has become a part of me and a symbol of life itself.
When I say life I don’t mean only good things. Life has many layers, ups and downs, just like the human mind and heart. There are many shades and colours, numerous moments of darkness and light that create the clear image of our multidimensional reality, a rich kaleidoscope of feelings, moments, images and sounds that create a whole.
Many people don’t know that this piece of music was a commission and that it has been written in a train. This may sound uninteresting for some, what is a train you may say. Well, for me a train means volumes. My father has passed away in a train. I have loved travelling by train all my life. Even now the train is my favourite transportation to wherever I go. It brings memories, it revives moments in my past, it is also (for those who believe that dreams have a meaning) a symbol of change, passage and novelty in one’s life. Gershwin says himself: “It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang, that is so often so stimulating to a composer – I frequently hear music in the very heart of the noise… “. He is right, it often happens to me too to hear the tune in the noise…
Rhapsody in Blue was a challenge because it was created in a very short period of time, against the clock, by a young and ambitious Gershwin that didn’t want someone else to steal his idea. This speaks volumes for me again. Under a similar pressure I have left Romania and started a new life in a moment when I felt I must do and I can do more with my life. I was young, ambitious and a bit unaware of what life may bring. But I didn’t care, I had only one thing in my mind- I wanted to make it. I think it is out of such moments of determination that meaningful things get born.
Did you know that the original title was “American Rhapsody”? In the end the title of this piece was inspired by two famous paintings of James Whistler of which one, “Nocturne In Blue And Green of the Thames at Chelsea”, has been rejected and misunderstood in the beginning because it was too modern for the moment when it was offered to the public. There are people who, despite of being rejected for their ideas or passion, carry on and believe in their dream until one day that dream proves to be an extraordinary thing. They may not see all the staircase, but they go up step by step, they simply have faith. It is not easy to believe in your own value when maybe nobody else does, yet being consistent in your efforts brings great results in the end.
Gershwin was not conservatory trained, an awareness of which he carried with him to his grave, and something his arch critics would never allow future students of the piano to forget. Yet, no conservatory teaches talent, so nothing can stand in front of Gershwin’s unique style and genius. Pianists have consistently interpreted Gershwin somewhere between the classicism of Chopin and the 20th Century romanticism of Rachmaninoff, but when it comes to Gershwin’s strict rhythms, what is not heard is more important than what is, for it is the magic of the split-second spacing between the notes that brings Gershwin’s Rhapsody to life in a melodic thread woven itself into a masterpiece.
The Rhapsody, with its composer as soloist, was premiered in front of a packed house that included Rachmaninov, Kreisler, McCormack, Godowsky, Sousa, Heifetz and Stokowski. Even the ones that later did not like it when it was first presented to the public and said it would have been “structurally flawed” have categorised it as a “sentimental” piece. It is as melancholic as my Romanian soul and it is full of feeling and light. It is sad at some points. It is happy, rhythmic and improvised too. Through all these characteristics it is ALIVE. If you would listen to only a part of it, if you would take a bit out of it, if you would listen to it all it would be just as alive, and that is amazing. It is a series of stories put all together, a series of songs that match perfectly in a single, uninterrupted composition of continuous and extravagant enthusiasm.
I have listened to it through various moments in my life and I have understood it in different ways. It speaks to me of happy childhood years. The first clarinet trill reminds me of a new beginning, of a new day, of sunrise. I am an animation movie lover, so when I have seen it translated into image by Disney’s Fantasia 2000 I have added even more meaning to it, as I thought that the animation is a perfect illustration for the hope trapped inside this fabulous piece of music. And I will always remember how I danced on this piece with the man I love. In a moment in time, in a quiet evening, in a quiet flat, in a quiet neighbourhood in London he has taken my hand in his hand and we have danced on this wonderful rhapsody. Our souls were dancing too, we were happy, the heart was full, the world was in the right place and we were in the right feeling.
I love Rhapsody in Blue for many reasons, for the sweet sentimental parts, for the crescendos, for the vivid pace, for the epic dimension of it, for the jazz veins and the classical bursts. My interpretation of it is perfectly subjective, I see it through the lenses of my own soul, maybe different than other people. But for me it represents life itself seen through the eyes of an optimist. Unflawed and tightly woven, with its early 20th Century innocence and brilliant musical statements taken in and out of the performers and listeners souls, Rhapsody in Blue is for me a personal stairway to paradise.
Photos: “Blue”, Adela Galasiu 2013
1500 words, memyselfandela, January 2014
More about Gershwin : Gershwin plays Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue – posted in April 2012
BBC Radio 4 – Soul Music – The stories behind pieces of music with a powerful emotional impact. http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/soulmusic
Love never died with our bodies, lover
In our lost moment
We are still the same dreamers touching the sky.
When I sink in you
I can touch deep your spirit
Far away from this island where you left me marooned.
Mud volcanos burst and
as their earthly colours transfigure
heavenly beauty rises from the pain.
Roots of passion feed the memory
Of the love blooming in your eyes
Like the only roses ever born.
God, have mercy, let it rain today,
My heart is so black, like my mind in ways.
Oh , there was a time when I could feel his taste.
His smiling eyes before me, tears down my face.
Sin for sale. Lover, will it feed your need?
Tell me, why you planted all these devil’s seeds?
What is now the truth? Can we get it back?
It’s was on the inside but you lost it’s track.
What was clean and pure is now left outside
On these paths of living we walk without guide.
What you knew and hid kills our frail tomorrow.
Bring your love back, lover, I may die of sorrow.
Bring life back, reborn, wash my love with tears
Be not scared to feel, love above all fears.
memyselfandela, January 2014
As I lay down in the darkest night stars circle over me.
Purple-green waves crush on the air shores
And the frost bites deep in the stone of my core
Petrified, inert, forgotten, wearing deep inside
The runes left behind by your loving touch.
No caress left to touch me, gone is your summer,
The dragonfly of your soul has long forgotten me.
Visions of light sparkle weary in my mind
As I fade in the endless dream
Of your warm finger drawing circles on my frozen heart.
Last night I loved you, Love.
My heart still beating, we were still alive.
No oblivion had yet stained the look in your eyes
And your heart was the spark igniting the blaze in my hollow heart.
I knew tomorrow will mean nothing for you, yet last night I loved you, Love,
With all the passion that fueled my veins.
In the night I could not sleep as I could feel that our time is short
And I was scared not to lose any moment with you.
Last night I loved you, Love.
If you desert me don’t forget to kill my fire.
I live waiting on the platform for my destined train. Sometimes I overslept in the waiting room and missed it, but most of the times I was here on the platform when it arrived. I have travelled for a while, I have learned new things but when I got off the train I have realized it has brought me back to this station with a name that I am still trying to decipher.
It’s just a normal train station like all others. With a huge clock, with huge windows, with many people carrying around small and big luggages and baggages stuffed with their own existence. Many run after trains they almost miss, others wait a bit restless for their journey, but the most rare kind of passengers are the ones that radiate happiness when they see their train arriving. Not many smile as they step in their train.
Above my head, on a wall, is scribbled Paler’s Decalogue, for some a blasphemy, for some food for thought:
“1.Wait, no matter how long.
2. Wait, no matter for what.
3. Don’t remember quite anything instead. The only good memories are the ones that allow you to live in the present.
4. Do not count the days.
5. Do not forget that any waiting time is temporary, even if it lasts for a lifetime.
6. Repeat yourself that there is no such thing as a desert. There is only our incapacity to fill the void in which we are living.
7. Do not put in the same pot both the prayer and God. Prayer is sometimes a form of hope of the one that does not dare to hope on his own.
8. If this thought helps, do not seek to admit that you hope because you don’t have something better to do or even in order to prevent the outcomes of doing nothing.
9. Bless the opportunity of completely belonging to yourself. Solitude is a whore that doesn’t blame you for being selfish.
10. Remember that Paradise was , most certainly, in a grotto.”
No days or nights are the same. They are all different and this is a blessing in itself.
Sometimes moths circle around the glowing beauty of a single light in the night, in a dance that fascinates me so much that I forget how much I still have to wait to see my train coming. Their mesmerizing dance takes me out of my world for a while.
Sometimes the dirty light reveals the faces of all the unknown people still waiting by my side, some worried, some cheerful, same frowning, some left with only few more drops of life.
Life goes on on the platform. The days grow, the nights slowly fade, the time sometimes pauses. The most beautiful light of all is the sunrise invading like molten gold the quiet platform, flowing between trains and passengers, flooding the huge waiting room in which some just enter and some still wait for an eternity to finally get born.