A conversation with a friend today made me revisit the concept of the artistic temperament, and the place of the artist in the world.
There are a lot of familiar tropes out there – artist as tortured genius, creativity as a reaction to trauma, the need for expression as a sign of insecurity in self. And while some of these are true some of the time, they are applicable to any non-artist as they are to an artist.
What makes an artist an artist, fundamentally, is a desire, willingness and ability to communicate a point of view. This can involve the creation of a new work or it can be a presentation of an existing idea from a different perspective (I would put the interpretation of existing music, which is what I and other classical musicians do, under the latter category).
The artistic need to communicate a point of view could come from the desire to provoke, or provide a different opinion, or establish commonality and therefore confirm a shared humanity. The motive is rarely to simply create something pretty. And equally as rare is expression as a purely confessional device.
I suppose I’m writing these things – as much as for myself as for other performers, visual artists and writers out in there world – as a reminder that we have a responsibility to create those spaces for people that allows them to experience their environment in a new way, to be transported into another world, to embrace a different depth of emotion, to feel seen and understood in the world, to sense the connection to each other and to us.
And we need all of those things right now. My fellow artists, our work is cut out for us. How will you respond?
My task today: to reconnect with a childhood friend that I’ve been meaning to talk to for weeks. Zoom happy hour! (done!)
2 thoughts on “A point of view”
One of my passions is reading about famous composers and listening to their stories. It helps me understand the drive, passion, creativity behind the scenes in their life and how they produce such beautiful music. Michael Feinstein is an American singer, pianist, and revivalist who became friends with Ira Gershwin brother of George Gershwin, who was part of the collaborative team in the Golden Years of Hollywood. They are known for numerous blockbuster of songs used in countless musicals and films.
Ira was growing older and was devastated when George died at the age of 38 of a malignant brain tumor. Ira and Michael were introduced by Rosemary Clooney who lived in LA, next to Ira and his wife Leonore. Michael was a young musician interested in the story of the collaboration of the Gershwin brothers and Ira was amazed at the wealth of knowledge of young Feinstein and his ability to play Gershwin melodies by memory on the piano. They chatted each day about times in the past and Ira gave Feinstein some of the music that never was published. Michael was elated to play on the piano that George used to write his legendary music.
One story was the genesis of how the song “Someone to Watch Over Me” was written. George and Ira were living together in Ira’s house and each night after dinner they would sit around the piano and listen to Ira create his famous music by editing the notes in his head and placing them on a sheet of music with innumerable changes noted in pencil. The melody of the song resonated in a fast tempo and George kept playing it over and over. George’s sister Frances asked him to slow it down, and he did. It was then beautifully written for Gertrude Lawrence in the musical “Oh Kay” in 1926. The song was arranged and recorded by hundreds of artists since then.
What is the point of this story? Artists, musicians, poets, and inventors, possess an energy that compels them to create and share. Creative energy is manifested usually in the quiet hours of the morning where thoughts become clear and questions become answered.
David Foster, is a Canadian musician, composer, arranger, record producer, and music executive. he has collaborated with hundreds of songwriters and musicians we grew up with. One of his famous compositions is “The Prayer.” is a popular song written by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager, Alberto Testa, and Tony Renis. He said while sitting at his piano that the melody was a compelling inspiration by energy that just came to him. It was a spiritual moment for the entire creative team.
Musicians, composers, and arrangers possess an amazing ability to inspire, motivate, and create beauty in mind, body, and soul that resonates in each of us regardless of who we are or where we’re from. They heal in times in these challenging times.
“And we need all of those things right now. My fellow artists, our work is cut out for us. How will you respond?”
I’m not in the music industry but I appreciate the talent. A world without artists is like seeing the world in gray all the time.