It’s always exciting when one art form inspires the creation of another. Four years ago, author and journalist James Strecker attended an HPO performance and penned this ode to Brahms’ dramatic First Symphony. We are honoured that he would choose his experience at our orchestral concert as fodder for this poignant and touching poem. Enjoy it in its entirety below.
“We shall live again in the sanctity of love, for Brahms has been the voice of creation.”
THE HAMILTON PHILHARMONIC PERFORM BRAHMS OPUS 68
to the HPO
The beginning sounds the heartbeat of destiny.
The players are now doubly become
the mouthpiece of a mountain
and the echo of one love yearning.
Fate allows no denial and speaks the endless
crags of destiny, but who reflects the eternal sky
and dances, heel and heel,
upon each star that sits heavenly?
It is man the maker who gilds
his courage with despair; he thus speaks love
for these players, compelled and impassioned
as they are, into sound.
A maestro’s hand gives purpose to the players’
will and ordains the shaping of resonance
and bends each voice into meaning
for one and many solitudes.
Now music, like a sage, considers the fate
that is given to a life; it confirms the hue of love
that is also a wound, accepts the gentle
heart’s resolution that itself knows only to be
answered and not to ask again what cannot be.
Who shall concede a love that masks the world
and gives resolute peace that too is destiny?
For love gives nothing in answer but love itself.
What should be love is sadness,
what should be love is denied and so music speaks,
wanders in hope, steps back,
and becomes more resolution.
Let us imagine colour then,
not grey of sorrow, but blue that cannot be sky
or green that knows not grass nor leaf,
or any hue that is man unfulfilled in love.
As if to descend and find their way, the players,
like mind in sonority, mindful of spirit carved
with hesitation, hear horn that summons order.
One hand for all spirits shapes a hymn-like
tranquility that denies not wisdom nor sorrow.
So imagine each one in his voice transformed and
made new. Or is each one anonymous in blessing
he or she gives, unknown to the wonder they do,
a part that knows no other part of unison sound.
Or is he who leads the players now transformed?
Does he find himself now a clarity of means
in prayer to beauty that Brahms provided,
for new life again, some lifetimes ago?
Who would not be inspired and incarnate
of hope that almost knows the world we live?
Should we not give voice in our hearts
to the hope we are also fated to sing, as we,
unknown to ourselves in pain and wonder,
give witness to this wounded declaration of love?
We shall live again in the sanctity of love,
for Brahms has been the voice of creation.
What more can music of destiny ask of him?