On Saturday night, I went to the final season performance of the Boulder Philharmonic. The evening followed a program I attended which featured a very inspirational speaker. It was delightful to listen to the orchestra and think about the new things I had learned.
I don't know squat about music, but I've been fortunate enough to have attended most of the Boulder Phil's performances for the past few years, and I've discovered that my favorites are the ones that featured violin or piano soloists. This one had a guest pianist who was out of this world. The orchestra accompanied him on Braham's Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-Flat Major. The other piece was Schubert's No. 8 in B Minor ("Unfinished"). Yes, it actually says 'unfinished' in the title.
I'm such an ignoramus when it comes to music. Several years of piano lessons were totally wasted on me. It's ironic that one of the people I go to the concerts with is my former piano teacher!
"Unfinished Symphony" makes me think that the music must just stop mid-measure somewhere. I imagine how surprised the orchestra would look. Now what? Of course, the music doesn't do that, but instead the piece has just two movements when the traditional symphony has four. There are different theories as to why this is. Some scholars debate that there was a sketch for a third part and perhaps Schubert just never got around to finishing it. Some feel that he never intended it to have four parts, that he said all he needed to in the first two.
Apparently Schubert left behind many half-finished works. He was only 31 years old when he died in 1828 and, like many musicians who have become famous, he nor his music were very well known until after he died. In fact, and this is the part that just amazes me, he probably never even heard his music performed! Maybe that's the reason he gave up on it.
I can't imagine the dedication it would take to give your life to something, knowing that you may not ever even see or hear the finished product. It got me to thinking about other people who have done the same. There's Korczak Ziolkowski, who had a vision to carve a sculpture of Chief Crazy Horse in a stone mountain in South Dakota, back in 1938. He knew that he would never see the project completed, but he dedicated his life to it, and now his family carries on the dream.
There's the Unfinished Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain. Antoni Gaudí worked on it for over 40 years before his untimely death in 1926. I'm sure he didn't intend to die, leaving it unfinished, but he must have suspected it could happen, considering how long it was taking to build.
I think about my own life and what I would dedicate myself to, even if I knew that I might never live to see the "finished product." The only thing I can come up with is my children. Supposedly our job is finished when kids reach the age of 18, when they're all spit and polished and ready to go out into the world. We may be done paying insurance and food and housing (hopefully), but people are works in progress,even if they live to be 100. We raise our children the best we can, and pray them through the rest, and hope that they become happy, healthy, contributing members of society. Much of the time, we really won't know the outcome, at least not for a very long time.
We're all given gifts to use in our lives. We can ignore them, but hopefully we'll use them to enrich our lives so that when we're gone, perhaps we'll leave a bit of a song or at best some piece of beauty for the rest of the world to enjoy.