Day 22: Wabi-Sabi

HaydnCD22I dropped the Haydn box on the floor this morning.

It fell from the narrow ledge on which I’d perched it as I rifled through to select the next 5-6 CDs to rip into iTunes.

The CDs and CD sleeves are fine. But the box itself now has two tears in it — one structural (to the lower left corner) that renders it far less stable as a container, and another cosmetic (on the top left) that affects its appearance.

At first, I was really depressed. After all, this was not an inexpensive purchase. If I recall correctly, it was around $150 on Amazon.

Now, I bemoaned, its value has been reduced to just the music.

When the ridiculousness of that thought set in, I laughed.

“Just the music.”

Like Haydn’s music is secondary to the box in which it came.


What about Wabi-sabi? I asked myself — albeit an hour or two later, as I sat down to listen to today’s CD.

According to its entry on Wikipedia, Wabi-sabi,

represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence, specifically impermanence, the other two being suffering and emptiness or absence of self-nature.

After all, wasn’t this morning’s butter-fingered escapade a reminder of impermanence? And the beauty therein, I might add. I mean, seriously, a Continue reading

Day 18: Bam!

HaydnCD18I was enthralled by Symphony No. 61 in D within its first 20 seconds.

The symphony opens with a burst of instruments — bam! — and then there’s a stuttering, a chattering, a dancing of strings building up to another full-instrument burst — bam! Then, oboe and bassoon enter the dance. Things really get rocking at the :30 mark when it sounds like bursts of fireworks. It’s bam! bam! bam! bam! syncopated around the dancing strings and the serenading, oboe, bassoon, and flute. These are some of the most stirring seconds I’ve yet heard from Haydn. This is hair-raising, truly invigorating craftsmanship.

Well, here it is. Listen for yourself. This is exactly the same performance to which I’m listening this morning:

Same conductor  (Adam Fischer), same orchestra (Austro-Hungarian Orchestra).

Antony Hodgson, author of The Music of Joseph Haydn: The Symphonies, describes it this way in Continue reading