Old Masters

Old Masters by Thomas Bernhard

Book: Old Masters by Thomas Bernhard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Thomas Bernhard
Tags: Fiction
of them live in this state of feeblemindedness. And in that state of feeble-mindedness they all enter the Kunsthistorisches Museum, he said. The people are weighed down by their admiration, they do not have the courage to deposit their admiration in the cloakroom along with their overcoats. So they drag themselves, laboriously crammed full of admiration, through all these rooms, Reger said, so much so it turns your stomach. Admiration, however, is not just the characteristic of the so-called uneducated, quite the opposite, it is also to a quite frightful, yes, literally a frightening degree, a characteristic of the so-called educated, which is a lot more revolting still. The uneducated person admires because quite simply he is too stupid not to admire; the educated person, however, is actually perverse, Reger said. The admiration of the so-called uneducated is entirely natural, the admiration of the so-called educated, on the other hand, is a positively perverse perverseness, Reger said. Take Beethoven, the permanently depressive, the state artist, the total state composer: the people admire him, but basically Beethoven is an utterly repulsive phenomenon, everything about Beethoven is more or less comical, a comical helplessness is what we continually hear when we are listening to Beethoven: the rancour, the titanic, the marching-tune dull-wittedness even in his chamber music. When we hear Beethoven's music we hear more noise than music, the state-dulled march of the notes, Reger said. I listen to Beethoven for a time, for instance to the Eroica, and I listen attentively and I actually get into a philosophical-mathematical state and I remain in a philosophical-mathematical state for a long time, Reger said, until all of a sudden I see the creator of the Eroica and everything is spoiled for me, because in Beethoven everything is really marching, I listen to the Eroica, which is in fact philosophical music, thoroughly philosophical and mathematical music, Reger said, and suddenly it is all spoiled for me and ruined because, while the Philharmonic play it in such a matter-of-fact way, I hear Beethoven's failure from one moment to the next, hear his failure, see his march-music head, you know what I mean, Reger said. Beethoven by then has become unbearable to me, just as I find it unbearable when I hear one of our big-bellied or thin-bellied singers kill the Winterreise with his singing, you understand, because that lieder-singing singer wearing tails and resting his hand on the piano while singing The Crow is always unbearable to me and ridiculous, he is a caricature from the outset, there is nothing more ridiculous, Reger said, than a lieder- or aria-singing singer leaning against the grand piano in tails. How magnificent is Schubert's music when we do not see it being performed, when we do not see those abysmally dull-witted conceited curly-haired interpreters, but we do, of course, see them when we are in the concert hall and everything as a result becomes embarrassing and ridiculous and an acoustic and visual disaster. I do not know, Reger said, if the pianists are more ridiculous and more embarrassing than the singers by the piano, it is a question of the state of mind we happen to be in at the moment. Of course anything we see while music is being performed is ridiculous, a caricature, and therefore embarrassing, he said. The singer is ridiculous and embarrassing, he may sing as he will, no matter whether tenor or bass, and all women singers are invariably even more ridiculous and embarrassing, no matter how they are gowned or what they sing, he said. A person bowing or plucking on the podium - it is too ridiculous, he said. Even the obese smelly Bach at the organ of Saint Thomas's Church was only a ridiculous and deeply embarrassing figure, there can be no argument about that. No, no, all artists, even if they are the most important ones and, as it were, the greatest, are nothing except kitschy and embarrassing and

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