Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Nói chuyện với ba

A long call to my parents yesterday. My mother makes less and less sense. She was happy to talk, albeit in her own fragmented world. During the course of the day, she goes back at various moments of her life. When evening comes, she is a 12 year old girl again. However, she still can reply as 'mother' although I wonder what it means in her head... But she sounded gay and spirited.
The surprise came with my father who, for the first time, seemed to enjoy a conversation on the phone - he tends to make it the shortest possible. After the usual exchange about health, mother's condition, the rain in Spain, incompetent governments etc..., my father began sharing about his life as a composer, how in time of hardship he had to accept jobs that were deemed unworthy for a composer by his peers. "But I never felt being a copist was below me", he went on. Fellow composers who talked about him as "their copist", since he worked for their (and his) publisher and had to do the copying chore for them. 
"I've been offered teaching positions in composition, but I declined" he said. "How can one teach composition nowadays? I'd understand if we lived in the 19th century, but now the conservatories offer all one needs to know: music theory, music analysis, harmony, orchestration..." Pause.
"My teachers, Jolivet or Rivier didn't teach me composition. They only made suggestions, they showed me possible paths to go." He paused again. "Composing comes from within..." 
"And it's connected to one's life and experience" I added tentatively.
"Exactly!" exclaimed my father. "I see so many brilliant composers. But if their technique is impeccable, I find it empty inside. And that cannot be taught..."
It was nearly two o'clock in the morning, I was falling asleep on the phone, but felt glad to have this connection. When I'm visiting them, my father really enjoys our conversations during lunchtime, teatime or dinner time. I know opportunities to talk and discuss about matters that interest him are now rare. His friends have been passing away one by one. The remaining ones are too old to go anywhere. Companionship comes from my mother who remembers less and less...
"It's my father, your grandfather, who told those simple thing on his deathbed: what really matters comes from the heart... I tried to live my life and make that the most natural thing" he continued.
"That's what you taught me too." I said. "Connection with others, friends or people we don't know."
"Not something that feels natural" my father added. "Many people do good deeds for how it is perceived by others"
I was very happy to have that moment with my father. He seemed equally happy to have spent that time talking with me. 

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