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Jan Reichow > Startseite > ... > Indische Botschaft Berlin 30.03.06
Veranstaltung im Auditorium der Indischen Botschaft Berlin 30.03.06
Your Excellency, dear Mr. Pandey,
Thank you for the kind words dedicated to me!
I am very grateful for your appreciation of my work. When I first came into contact with Indian music in the 1960's - in Cologne University, to be more precise, during a series of lectures with Josef Kuckertz -, I did not yet expect this music to accompany me for the rest of my life. I had originally concentrated my activities to, apart from European music - the Arabian, later additionally to the Iranian music. And, as it turned out during my broadcast (radio) work, even the music of the whole world: the big folk music traditions of Africa, Indonesia with its gamelan orchestras, Korea and Japan with its court music, Chinese Opera etc. etc., and of course also the European traditions such as Irish fiddle playing, Caucasian polyphony, the choirs from the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, the phantastic rhythms of the Balcan peninsula a.s.o., Spanish Flamenco, Portuguese Fado, Argentinian Tango, Caribbean dance music a.s.o., - and the most important for me: the classical music of Europe from Johann Sebastian Bach to Béla Bartók; I was a classical violinist and wanted always to be, as a free-lance musician, next to (and at the same time as) my work for the radio.
Among my nicest experiences, however, was experiencing the South Indian violinist Lalgudi G. Jayaraman in 1980 - the experience that, with the highest art and intensity, something completely different could be done with the violin.
In general, certain personal encounters were to be influential on the directions of my life: from the first encounter with Sitar master Imrat Khan in 1974 as well as, at a later time, radio live performances - for which one day he would also bring and present his sons Nishat and Irshad, - up to the festival on 6 March 2004 which we organized for him and his sons - including Nishat, Wajahat & Shafaatullah - in the Philharmonie, Cologne. But as well, since 1976, the great tabla master Nikhil Ghosh, also always accompanied by his children - up to the surprising event on 6 December 2005, on my 65th birthday, on which I could listen again to his son Dhruba Ghosh on sarangi with a wonderful and very moving farewell raga.
But also, as mentioned before, the phantastic violinist Lalgudi G. Jayaraman in the Kölner Nachtmusik night concert in 1980, - and 25 years later, on 12th June 2005, to experience his children Krishnan und Vijayalakshmi in a WDR concert in Bonn, and also to hear Hariprasad Chaurasia, the flutist, with his nephew Rakesh, also Shivkumar Sharma in a number of grand WDR performances and India festivals finally often with his son Rahul.
I have always dreamt of something similar to happen for myself, and I am glad to see that my love for music, coming from my father and my grandmother, has long manifested itself in the next generation and as well strongly in the youngest generation after.
With this kind of love, I am without doubt a traditionalist, and it is not for nothing that until today,I have remained faithful and loyal to the European classical tradition which has been communicated to me by my father and my teachers. When, in the late 1960's, I have turned towards Indian music, this was not for the reason that Beethoven or Brahms did not mean anything to me any more.
I have been very happy when my colleagues in WDR radio organized a farewell concert for me which was titled "d'amore" and which was dedicated to all of the instruments provided with sympathetic strings. For example, the baroque viola d'amore, the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle, but as well their Indian relative the Sarangi. I have already mentioned my dear friend Dhruba Ghosh in this context.
As a matter of fact, I can appreciate something good, valuable and human in many music styles of the world. But there are small reservations as well: Iranian music, for example, has often deeply impressed me and we have constantly presented it in WDR concerts, as it is an incredibly emotional and, at the same time, highly differenciated form of art.
There has, however, been a barrier, which strangely enough has almost more to do with politics than with music: the fact that great music is not officially welcomed there, in Iran, and that there are great artists in that country, who may nevertheless not enjoy or benefit from the status they would deserve. Music must thus resemble a sarangi or sitar which is lacking its resonance strings.
Can you imagine what has most deeply moved me about India? It is the image of Lord Krishna with a flute in his hand!
You may know that in Europe, there is a concept of God sitting at the 'global organ', the organ of the whole world, but this is not an essential or central concept in christianity. It is maybe a pythagorean, ancient greek concept and with us, however, a rather late recycled idea from the time of Johannes Kepler the astronomer. A time, therefore, in which music - with highest christian permission and support - had already begun its triumphant march through our culture.
And it is in fact a miracle that the history of christianity has nevertheless allowed for music to play such an central role and that it has by this enabled and enforced the development of a really widespread musical culture.More than ever I am nowadays inspired by the very thought which (also) the Indian musicologist P. Sambamoorthy has expressed in the 60's of the last century (the 1960's):
"Indian music and European music are two great musical systems. They stand as the embodiment oft two distinct branches of musical thougt and expression. They are respectively the perfection of the melodical and harmonical systems of music."
(P. Sambamoorthy: South Indian Music, Madras 1969, Book VI p.277)
Sambamoorthy was a well educated man - but he did not take into consideration any other cultures; he tended to subsumize the other oriental cultures under the Indian, and I believe that, in the last consequence, he saw European culture as a lost grand-grand-grandchild of the universal Indian mother music. Why not? I think he is right! In this respect, one should rather dare to make some additional steps. But it is in fact very intriguing to relate our seemingly remote (and different) music systems to each other and to regard them as truly complementary: two children of one mother, children, who could never possibly get married but who, in their extremely individual differenciation, could truly enlighten and complete each other.
When I last came to visit this house, Mr. Pandey gave me a beautiful new book with poems and texts by Rabindranath Tagore, Das goldene Boot (The golden ship), and in there I have, with surprise, read a conversation between the great Bengali poet and Albert Einstein. This had taken place in 1930 here in Berlin, in a villa at the Wannsee.
The subject of this conversation:
"I once asked an English musician to analyze his classical music for me and to explain to me which elements made a piece of music beautiful."Now, this would be exactly the right point of departure for communication. An adequately modest point of departure.
But then Einstein says:
"The problem is that truly good music, in East or West, can never be analyzed."This, unfortunately, is not true, because there is always a lot that can be analyzed. And if it is done well, one may indeed get closer to the matter. One may reach a basis from which understanding is to grow. And this is already quite something!
Tagore was polite and consents with Einstein:
"Yes, and whatever touches deeply lies beyond the listener."Possibly the task is being shifted too far into the beyond like this? Do we not always feel it close by? We are saddened by the fact that this kind of conversations have not been led and continued on all levels - possibly somewhat less abstractly but rather very close to musical reality.
Nowadays, we do at least regularly see similar subjects, treated with high expertise, on the proceedings of the ICT-Sangeet Research Academy in Mumbai, put forward by the indefatigable Arvind Parikh, and I may regard myself happy to belong to the extended circle of this particular research college.I intend to spend the rest of my life in understanding and describing the differences of our two musical cultures - and everything they have in common.
And I presume - or I hope, anyway - that we will find here a humanistic project of mutual understanding the benefit of which will as well manifest itself in other fields.
I would like to thank the Indian Embassy for this encounter with the wonderful singer S.Sowmya and her ensemble, among which Herbert Lang to whom I am already grateful for nice concerts with the saxophone virtuoso Kadri Gopalnath in 2002 and with brother and sister Lalgudi in 2005.And I wish to thank you all for your attention and your encouragement of Indian culture and music!
(Dr. Jan Reichow 30.03.06)
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