“Bach changed him, working on him from one day to the next. Playing the suites invariably reminded him of discovering them: ‘That scene has never grown dim. Even today, when I look at the cover of that music, I am back again in the old musty shop with its faint smell of the sea’. At the same time, they evoked society: in Bach’s ‘infinite gradations of musical allusion’ he heard ‘the simple joy of the people, the popular dances, the elegance the perfume, the loving contemplation of nature and the rest’. They closed the gap between Bach and himself.”
Pablo Casals’ insights sound serendipitous, as if all of a sudden the works breathed life into their humble Catalan servant as he carelessly caroused them one day.
What’s important to note here is that Casals worked Bach’s cello suites every day. He did this for twelve years before performing them in public with recordings and recitals. For Casals, it wasn’t accidental at all. Finding the beauty in these suites was an accumulation of the daily time he spent with them.
Sounds a lot like dating.
Like dating, Casals sure had his joys but also his frustration: Bach’s cello suites we’re considered throw away technical exercises, not music. Working from little to nothing, Casals had to find the music in them.
And this is where I think persistence comes in. Falling in love is a gradual process. It only seemed sudden but it was months and years in the making, good and bad, that ended with two people saying “I do”.
If we want to fall in love with our music, perhaps we need to go on more dates with it: practice. The opportunity is there to go on daily dates with our music. The opportunity is there to fall in love.
Then, like Casals with Bach, our performances can become not just music but public renewals of our vows.