After I wrote my last blog shortly after my mother died, I wasn’t sure if so much unfiltered writing is appropriate. But as the rather impulsive person I can be, I decided to stick with what felt right in that moment. When I observe all these very touching comments to this last entry, I realize that it was maybe not appropriate, but for me extremely helpful – it really helped me to go on after this loss which probably can only be “topped” by the loss of your own child. The quintessence what people seemed to aim at and which was not obvious to me, was the fact that my mother lives on in my music.
That’s the reason why she didn’t want me to come back to Berlin when she felt her end was approaching, but she wanted me to continue playing. That’s how she got her own “memorial concert” the day of her death – she was a highly gifted musician, and if I have any musical talent, it comes from her. A certain instinctive “feel” how music should be played – never mind if it’s right or wrong, but I learned through her “genes” how to read and understand a piece of music I have never heard before, how to come up with own ideas.
I didn’t cancel a single concert, the funeral was fitted to my schedule, and at some point I started doubting myself if maybe I am just a piece of ice and I was wondering if I should have collapsed more than I did. Well, I did it in a very compressed way: I had one free day after playing for the first time the Honegger Concerto in Siegen and before going to Cardiff to record that piece for Hyperion, and I didn’t manage to leave my bed, couldn’t move, couldn’t think, could hardly breathe. Just a flu, but I think it was the very stingy way of my body to demand the rest.
Yet I didn’t want to cancel the recording after having learned that concerto in the “passing-away-period” under great sacrifice, so I forced myself out of bed the next day, took the plane to Heathrow at 7:20 in the morning in order to drive with a rental car to Cardiff for the rehearsal with the excellent Welsh BBC Orchestra. Thinking back I must admit that I felt like in a cloud. Not denial, but somehow very bizarre, abstract and surreal.
The funeral itself was incredibly touching – my mother’s amateur choir which she had founded about 18 years ago sang from the top of the church an angelic piece, don’t remember which one, but I completely broke down, because it reflected so much my mother’s work. The priest was an old friend of the family and she gave an amazing account of my mother, without glorifying, just honest and loving, which made it much stronger than just pure praise. In between my sisters played together with my father and a colleague of his (Peter Brem) very beautifully the slow movement of the Debussy String quartet which my mother had wished for at her funeral. I have no idea how they managed since they all were in tears and none of them had ever played the piece.
Towards the end of the service I played the Sarabande of the 5th Bachsuite as well as the Preulde of the 6th facing my mothers coffin with the back to the crowded church, and I felt her so close that I instantly knew why I had to continue playing the cello – not as if nothing happened, but because something happened, with a new purpose, to carry out my mother’s calling which hopefully lives on in me. Oh, it sounds arrogant, but it wasn’t my thought – I am just stealing it from others because it helped me so much dealing with the pain.
After a couple of smaller recitals in Germany I just had a week off in Berlin, alone with my son Janos, and we had a wonderful time, reading, playing, practising piano, talking and looking for apartments. I didn’t manage to touch the cello at all during that 8 days which felt great after the physical and emotional stress of the preceding few weeks – now I am in Madrid, having the pleasure of doing another Sinfonia Concertante with the RTVE and Walter Weller – pleasure because I just did it a couple of times in January, so it will come back rather easily, and I will have some time to also enjoy the Spanish capital and practise my Spanish. Did I mention that whenever I am in Berlin I am meeting a Spanish teacher to finally learn this gorgeous language which on top of everything is the language of my son… Yes, I know, I am lazy, should have learned it a long time ago, and I understand a lot, but hey, it’s never too late!!! On Friday Janos is going to join me for the last concert and we spend some quality time together for the weekend.