Editor’s Note: The following are two responses to the January 30 U.S. 1 article “Time to Face and Listen to the Music” by arts editor Dan Aubrey. The first writer is Daniel Spalding, the music director and conductor of the New Jersey Capital Philharmonic. The second is Romanian concert pianist Gabriela Imreh. They are the married couple and professional musicians whose story about their illegal marriage behind the Iron Curtain was recounted in the February 11, 2015, issue of U.S. 1.
I just read “Time to Face and Listen to the Music” in U.S. 1. The essay itself is like a well thought out symphony. How the writer wove together the state of classical music in America and China (with a mention about Westminster), then seamlessly into Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, then transitioning right into the “Quartet for the End of Time,” connecting these two works with the human spirit, then back again to the America/China comparison and some brain research sprinkled in and your beautiful last sentence ending with the word “fate.”
Wow, I’ve read a lot of your writings, which are always impressive, but I am truly awed by this one. Like I said before, it flows just like a four-movement symphony, each subject with an exposition and development, and then a sweeping recapitulation using all your themes in the last movement. Brilliant!
— Daniel Spalding
Your article made me think of the old days of communism, how concerts and the opera were a refuge, places where we all escaped the harsh reality and nourished our souls. The halls were always full, people knowledgeable to the point they didn’t go to hear Rocky 2 (Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto #2), they went to hear so-and-so play Rocky 2. The orchestra was one of the finest in Eastern Europe, the Steinway a jewel, the tuner an artist. The symphony orchestra was subsidized 90 percent.
They still have a professional choir that rehearses five days a week, 40-some weeks a year (like the orchestra) and both have decent pensions. Things are going down there too; they are also falling into the trap of frilly, tacky, overdone productions, mindless lasers, rock outfits, and something you can’t even call classical music anymore.
Some of the best teachers and musicians left the first chance they had after the fall of Ceausescu, not that they had a good track record before, if an orchestra was ever allowed to tour in the West. Even with the overwhelming Securitate presence the saying was they left as a symphony orchestra and returned as a quartet. Thank you for the thought-provoking, stunning piece of writing, one of the best I ever had the pleasure to read.
— Gabriela Imreh