How do you spell motherfucker
"Silence is not an option"
Ladies and gentlemen,
«Anybody can play.
The note is only twenty percent.
The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is eighty percent. "
It is rare happiness to know an artist who lives this Miles Davis quote as unconditionally as Gabriela Montero does. Her work, her playing, her existence as a musician, her irrepressible commitment, yes, all of this makes these words come true. She lives these words. This is what I am for - and for that we must all be grateful.
There are experiences that you never forget. You can't forget them because they touch you deeply, force you to think and feel and change you suddenly and permanently. I have to tell you about just such a moment, because it is too precious that it only echoes in me:
Gabriela Montero was a guest at the “Komische Oper” in Berlin last year. It is the first time that I was able to experience Gabriela live. And I was unusually excited. I sat down, waited for the things that were to happen and awaited the fanning, emotional and penetrating introduction to what is probably the most famous piano concerto of all time: “1. Piano Concerto op. 23 in B flat minor ”by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. But what I was supposed to hear instead of the introduction was even bigger, more meaningful, more unique. Mirga Grazynite-Tyle raised her baton, the orchestra began. But they were interrupted.
Two very young people, a woman and a man, in the front row, jumped from their seats. They were wrapped in a yellow, blue, and red flag and they began to sing. It was the national flag of Venezuela and they sang the national anthem "Gloria al bravo pueblo". I didn't know the hymn. The text is by Vicente Salias and the music by Juan José Landaeta. Four years after the national anthem was written, both were executed in 1814. They were insurgents.
This music, this song, sung by these two young people, changed everything that day - it changed the audience that was allowed to be in this concert. It changed me. The room temperature, at least that's how I felt it, rose immeasurably and my heart began to quake. The two sang, and they sang, and they sang. It felt like forever. Gabriela turned in her chair in the direction of these two and listened. With full attention. As if she were the audience. It was like an intimate conversation between three people. And we all in the room were given gifts to listen to. Yes, even more: We were allowed to participate, we were allowed to experience this intimate moment. I can't get this moment out of my head.
You can imagine my thoughts flying in hundreds of directions at the same time. One of these thoughts was: how deep the trust these two must have been in Gabriela, that they had the strength to allow this moment to arise for her, with her and for all of us. How much strength must you have to break and open all conventions - your heart, your thoughts, your convictions, your love for Gabriela.
These two stand for thousands of people who trust Gabriela Montero, confide in her, write to her, who take them into their world, who are not afraid to share their pain with Gabriela. That can only be possible because Gabriela Montero treats her fellow human beings so intimately, so warmly, so humanely, listens to them, gives them support and comfort. How can a person be so wonderfully human?
You trust Gabriela because she raises her voice in a way that hardly anyone dares. She fights for her country, for her fellow men, regardless of whether they are friends or strangers. Gabriela lives responsibility. Without regard to losses. She is there for everyone, takes her time, takes strength, even if none seems to be there, she listens, tries to help, takes an interest. Gabriela Montero is fighting. It is threatened, it is threatened, it is tried to exhaust it. Gabriela faces these hurdles with strengths that people basically cannot muster over the long term. She brings up this irrepressible force. Gabriela Montero is such a strong person that I can hardly believe it. She is doing this for her country Venezuela, which she has never given up and which she will never give up. She shows attitude.
And that we are clear here: I am not talking about a “fair weather attitude”, as so many proclaim it. I'm talking about a vigorous demeanor.
If you want to work politically, you rely on high values: Be embraced, millions or all people become brothers. We all know these values. One mimes the world saver, only because one can only spell the word “piano sonata” once, only to then, outside the concert hall walls, in everyday life, hang up all attitudes again. But: art is life and life is art. An artist like Gabriela shows that there is no separation. She's not just a musician. She is a music person. She fights regardless of her own person. She fights, knowing that state reprisals can not only affect her close family circle, but can also hit them in real life. She takes the risk of never being able to travel to her home country again. The country of Venezuela, which is so gifted with an enormous treasure trove of raw materials that it should actually shine. Venezuela cannot shine at the moment, it cannot live, it cannot be free, because a narco mafia that scolds the government is destroying the country. It destroys society, it destroys life.
Gabriela fights against it on all levels. She also raises her voice against colleagues and accepts that the establishment will damage her career for reasons of revenge. She accepts all of this. That is the vigorous demeanor for which I deeply admire Gabriela and which I bow to her. It is not the “politics à la classical” that we often experience. Far more players in our apparently ideal world should follow their example. We have to follow their example.
I don't have to emphasize here that Gabriela Montero is a wonderful musician who has creative power, an imagination, an inner freedom that is second to none. Most of you have probably seen Gabriela in concert. Hopefully not just once. She manages to elicit colors and emotions from every instrument that she touches, which directly tackle, attack and touch every listener. She manages that as a listener you never have the feeling that what is happening on stage is just beautiful. Gabriela also shows her attitude as a musician and also forces this on us listeners. Staying neutral is not an option. It is impossible with her. Great music can do that. And only great musicians can do that.
Gabriela's sounds breathe, tremble, love, fly, cry, laugh, flatter, scratch. In short: Gabriela's sounds are alive. Thelonious Monk, one of the most important composers and pianists of the twentieth century, put it very briefly and concisely: Wrong is right. I take it to the extreme and claim: There are no wrong notes. There are no wrong notes. There are also no right ones. There are only our own. When we understand this, we free the music from so many chains, rules, language rules, pre-made ideas and cages that it just wants to lock up instead of letting it go.
Ferruccio Busoni formulated exactly that as early as 1906. In his ingenious, inspiring and timelessly valid “Draft for a New Aesthetic of Music” he writes:
The creator should not accept any traditional law based on good faith and should regard his own work as an exception from the outset. For his own case he would have to look for a corresponding law of his own, form it and destroy it again after the first complete application, in order not to lapse into repetitions even with the next work. The job of a creator is to make laws, not to obey laws. Whoever follows given laws ceases to be a creator.
Gabriela Montero's gift of releasing music, letting it emerge anew every time, believing deeply in what is one's own, breaking down distance and creating the greatest possible closeness between herself, the music and the listener, is tremendously inspiring. Her improvisations testify to this, as does her work on the so-called canon repertoire. The moment lives and not a prepared plan. Music arises out of it. She enters into an intimate partnership between composer, audience and herself. It becomes clear that this is what makes music so unique: Nobody owns it alone. It doesn't belong to anyone alone. Just all of us. Nobody has sole authority to interpret what and how a work should be. Music cannot be recorded and its tremendous power can only be reproduced in text form with great difficulty. It arises between us. She floats free. Busoni spoke of her as the child who floats. It does not touch the earth with its feet. It is not subject to gravity. It's almost incorporeal. Its matter is transparent. It is sounding air - it is free!
Gabriela Montero lives this freedom. And here I come to the topic that is most important to me: being human. The word human is a Yiddish word. A person is someone who lives dignity and honor. A person is whoever is a good person. Otherwise man is a monster. We are only too happy to forget that. Eugen Roth wrote in his wonderful cycle of poems "Mensch":
A person thinks as believing as a child,
that all human beings are human.
Well, Gabriela is human. Literally. In my life so far, I have met very few people as emphatic, kind-hearted, loving, compassionate, inspiring, wiser, and warm-hearted as they are. She is happy when you are happy. She is sad when you are sad. She listens when you need it without you having to ask. She takes initiative when you are weak. She helps. She is there for you. And yes, I firmly believe that you can hear that. How you are is how you play. That's how you make music.
Gabriela Montero knows life, lives life, recognizes it, sees it and feels it, with all its breaks, all its blackness, its happiness, its pain and its light. And that's why she manages to tell about this life while making music as only a few can. I am wholeheartedly convinced that this is exactly what the “Heidelberg Spring Music Prize” is: not just another award for famous musicians who are at the top of the career ladder, not just a cash prize for the stars of Branch. No. This price stands for something that the festival stands for, yes this city: This price stands for the enlightened citizen.
You, and by that I mean the “Heidelberger Frühling” as a whole and all people, should not just honor those who are relevant to critics or other musicians, not only today, but also in the future, because they - whatever that means - are great performers. Or - and now it becomes completely unmusical: be able to play the piano great.
We have to pay tribute to those artists who show attitude.
We have to honor those artists who take responsibility.
We have to honor those artists who live what a person always has to live if he wants to be a good person: to be there for other people.
It is a great honor for me to be able to give a laudation to a unique, honest and wonderful musician, colleague and friend that I can only wish every citizen of the world. I am inexpressibly grateful.
Dear Gaby: Thank you.
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