Thursday, September 24, 2009

In Search Of Lost Time

Marcel Proust's Open Sesame and the magic lantern seem to have taken effect. While stepping into "In Search Of Lost Time" I discovered a sort of kindred spirit and guide in the voice of Proust. I picked up my first volume "Swann In Love" over this summer when I was struck by a longing to play Wagner's "Ring Cycle". Although I had sent a personal letter to the general director reminding him of my past contributions to the first violin section in previous cycles, practically begging for mercy from retaliatory behavior by the local snobs, I found myself one of many rejected artists, denied and dispossessed. I tried to be sympathetic to the general director, since he had, years ago in our house, claimed not to have understood what a concertmaster's role is, although himself a former music critic. His orders had come from above; from the dark gods, and he didn't have the spine of bendable zirconium like say, Peter Gelb.

I ordered a Proust 6-pack after perusing Alain de Botton's "How Proust Can Change Your Life" and decided, right then and there, to succumb to the thousands of  pages. Envisioning "In Search of Lost Time" as a sort of replacement for playing excruciatingly long, sinuous Wagnerian phrases—what notes are to music, words are to prose—I was not mistaken. Every Gospel-like page that I turn, transports me to salons from my past where local braggarts compared stock market successes and flaunted Bar and Bat Mitvah parties. As a music librarian once asked: What do you give the thirteen-year-old child who already has the moon?

As you can see, I get a bit worked up over what must seem like tit-for-tat. It's the Jewish New Year. I'll begin with a fresh tradition. Proust owned a theatre-phone on which he used to listen to live performances. Metropolitan Opera at the Movies will become my new tradition, which hopefully guarantees a snob-free zone featuring first-rate productions, by truly world class singers and orchestra musicians, like oboist Nathan Hughes. No hearing aids or opera glasses needed. Popcorn?

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