A Little Tale for Veterans Day by anahata.c ()
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At age 9, after a grueling piano lesson, my teacher said, "Mark: Your Bach is awful. You play him like he's a machine...Come: I'll show you how to play Bach..."
She took me down the hall, knocked on a door, and a man with a growly Hungarian accent shouted: "Come!"
We walked in.
"This young man doesn't know how to play Bach," she said.
"Another one?" laughed the Hungarian.
He walked to me, patted me on the cheek, and said: "So, you haven't discovered the Great Treasure. Come. I show you...."
He picked up his violin, wrapped his trembling fingers around it---his hands were like gnarled branches from an old tree that had been through countless storms and survived. He couldn't stop shaking. I gulped. My teacher whispered: "Shh! Just listen..."
He played the celebrated "Chaconne" from Bach's Partita Number 2 for Unaccompanied Violin. It was for solo violin---no keyboard, no orchestra, just a violin.
When he began, his shaking was so bad I wanted to hide. My teacher whispered, "it'll happen in a second."
Then suddenly, it did: His performance became so moving, so deep and impassioned, his shaking melted away and Bach emerged, and the room turned to flame. When he played the passage below, he was so immersed, I thought the violin had grown out of his limbs. With all his shaking and wincing, he'd turned Bach into a cry from the cosmos.
I began to cry.
My teacher leaned into me, and whispered: "Now you've discovered the 'great treasure'..."
I later learned that this man had fought in World War II. He was training to become a concert violinist, but he was injured. That's why he shook. Some years later, I asked him where he got his violin.
"From an American soldier. I met many after the war---but this one had been a violinist too. We became fast friends."
"Why did he give you his violin?"
"Because he lost his arm in battle."
I was silent.
"Yes," he said. "But it's war. Huge sacrifice." He sighed deeply. "When I came to America, I looked him up, and he gave me his violin because he said you saved my life."
"That's very moving," I said.
He teared-up: "I didn't save his life, Mark. I just played for him. And he said he never forgot: Somehow I reminded him of a beauty he'd known since childhood, and it renewed him in some way. I never forgot the look on his face. I was so grateful to him, yet he felt I'd saved him in some way. There's no way to put it into words..."
"It must've been difficult to take his instrument," I said.
"Impossible! He and his wife had to shove it at me---for an hour! But see---that's the violin I used when I played Bach for you. I normally play my Stradivarius, but whenever a student loses their way, I play my friend's violin." He sighed: "So much sacrifice, so much given. I play his violin every day, so I don't forget..."
For all those in war, who've given so much to save others:
a blessed Veterans Day.
(The image is that passage from Bach.
Please see full...)
Image Comments (15)
Call me a sentimental slob...this teared me up...probably for several reasons. What is it about Hungarians? My father played quartets with a Hungarian violinist named Joe Sharinay. This story is so very poignant for me. Your artwork is a treasure...aflame with music and soul! I can hear it and feel it. And what a powerful lesson for a 9 year old. Superb!!!
A very powerful story, Mark - thanks for sharing it with us. It made me curious about the piece you mentioned, so I found a version performed by Itzhak Perlman & found it quite amazingly beautiful. Listening to it, I could imagine the Hungarian violinist in your story & how he would have affected you so deeply. Your colorful, intense image has the same kind of blazing passion...
This image is a perfect accompaniment to your story. The colors soar, sway, slide, envelop, and all with music as the background. No ... not background ... it's like not noticing the air we breathe. The music is everywhere, and looking at your image, we swim in it, fly in it, become it. How beautiful this is! A marvelous piece.
Such a beautiful and moving story, it brought tears, and your art is filled with the passion and fire of creativity and the music of Bach. Story and art are really a wonderful and very heartfelt dedication to those veterans who gave everything for our freedom.