In the Details

We played Mahler’s First Symphony tonight
in a civic orchestra sort of way
but it gave aging rich women a place to
go in their wraps and
my mother-in-law sat with my wife and
said she saw horses and did ‘three-legged-dances.’

There are so many moving parts,
I said. The work has defied the best
orchestra’s efforts to play it, and
to play it, not listen to it, is to
count measures of rest after rest
and wait to come in
wait to come in.
The clarinet part is to sound
like a cuckoo and the conductor
makes crazy faces to inspire you
while his back is turned
to the audience.

10 thoughts on “In the Details

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  1. ha…that is rather fun about the conductor…makes me want to get a better view…its good you gave the aging rich women a place to go as well…smiles…

  2. This feels very much it’s an account of something that really happened. I enjoyed the musical references…the clarinet sounding like a cuckcoo. Now I want to download Mahler’s First.

    1. I really did play that piece last night. The part I’m describing happens mainly in the 3rd movement, if memory serves…

  3. I spent many of my young adult years in community orchestras and this tickled me to no end. Though my worst experience had to be in high school playing Duke of Earl on the flute at football games, I’ll never get those precious hours back. Why do conductors and composers torture musicians? Were you inspired to become a parasite and see if another family would claim you as its own? Doubtful, but the faces made him feel better.

  4. You put a real human face on this music that often defies the best abilities of human players. I thought the matter of fact way that you narrate the story plays well against the grandiosity of the music.

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