The other day I attended a ‘Music in the Morning’ concert featuring pianist Pedja Muzijevic, which was not only enjoyable but, for me, particularly interesting. Am I capable of judging the artist’s talent? Of course not. I certainly enjoyed the performance and felt it worth braving the rain and windstorm that chose to hit our city that day.
Said storm created floods and hazards and made it difficult for me to obtain cabs and I got soaked. (We are, after all, located in a rain forest.)
On the program was Robert Schumann’s Carnaval, Op. 9.
In introducing this selection, Muzijevic said something about Schumann which I’ve been thinking about ever since: ‘Schumann, being mentally ill, wrote music without boundaries.‘
(Schumann’s wife, Clara, was also a gifted composer and musician and deserves mention here.)
This was the first time in many, many years since I’d heard something like that. Way back in my 30s, when I still hoped to someday write the ‘great American novel’, my husband and I had a friend who was a psychiatrist. One evening when he and his wife came over for dinner, he told me I would never be a great writer because — I was too sane!
He went on to say he had some patients who were very successful authors, who were able to write things ‘normal’ people can’t. People who are sane, he continued, have something like a protective fence around their brains and they tend to stay within those perimeters. People who are not sane don’t have that barrier. This makes it possible for them to follow ideas outside where you would not dare go.
I’ve never forgotten that evening so long ago and the interesting discussion we had over dinner. This week was the very first time since then I’d heard that same idea expressed. What do you think of it?