After the last concert in Italy â€“ Poggi del Sasso â€“ on July 17th I could have almost locked my cello up until end of August if it wasnâ€™t for this one concert on August 2nd at the festival in Hitzacker, where I have to play in three concerts all Bachsuites plus a Reger-Suite as part of a workshop at noon. Why did I agree to this single date in the middle of the school summer holidays?
I could have left the cello and all other responsabilities for 5 weeks, recharing the batteries for the next season, enjoying life with wife and child, but instead I have to keep the Suites in my fingers and brain. Well, I was supposed to play on July 31 the world premier of the Unsuk Chin Celloconcerto at the Proms in London, but because of her opera â€œAliceâ€ which just got premiered in Munich she fell behind composing the piece and had to postpone it on short notice. By then I had already agreed to perform the Bach since I thought it would do me good to not only focus on modern music for a month but having to work on the cellistâ€™s bible. And now I am stuck with this single concert. Cancelling? No way, I donâ€™t do that, I pay for my decisions â€“ especially since part of the plan was to finally force myself to play all of the Suites at once. And since I had the chance to play them already in Italy I felt safe enough to put the cello away for a week already and take holidays, three parts in 2 weeks:
First we took four extra days after the festival and toured Tuscany by car: Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano, San Gimignano, Firenze and Bologna. What incredibly beauty, to see especially these small little cities which havenâ€™t changed much in the past 800 years (especially San Gimignano), quite touching and overwhelming. After that I flew directly to Stockholm, rented a car, drove to VÃ¤stervik where my two brother-in-laws had prepared our sailing wooden sailing boat which we wanted to sail down to Germany in a tour-de-force of 3 nights and days of continuous sailing. Unfortunately the winds were too strong, we had to take breaks at nights because of our exhaustion of figthing the 2 meter waves in the Baltic Sea, and when yesterday the wind didnâ€™t change as promised by the weather service to a a bit milder West wind we had to change course and stop in Ã–land. Right before the harbour of Borgholm we hit ground, got a huge crack in the hull (the bottom) and just made it in the harbour where we fought for the sinking ship for abhout an hour until the Â Â firetruck came with a huge pump and saved it.
No, I was never really afraid for my life, just felt horrible because we could have avoided this accident and continued our beautiful trip for another two days if we would have read the map more carefully. One shallow wasnâ€™t marked in the over-all map and because of the weather we didnâ€™t manage to check the detail map while sailingâ€¦
My father picked us up and drove us to his country house 2 hours from Borgholm, a pre-mature arrival to my third part of the holiday-plan, because I wanted to visit my parents anyway, especially since my ailing mother (ALS) is doing worse and worse by the day. How tragic to see this once powerful and energetic woman suffering by this horrible disease (in the US itâ€™s called Lou-Gerig disease, Stephen Hawking has it since many years, but normally patients die after a couple of years) which slowly paralyzes her from the head down. Since more than a year she canâ€™t talk anymore, canâ€™t swallow anything and has only 30% of her breathing capacity left. While I am not afraid of death, I hate seeing her suffer so much without being able to help except playing some games with her which is a welcome distraction for her.
As a young boy I was thinking and confronting myself about the possible death of my parents with no particular reason, it caused me much pain and nightmares early on with the effect, that now I can deal with it rather calmly without having the problems of letting go. Our parents have to leave us at some point, maybe sixty-three years old is too early, but still it is not the same tragedy as if your child dies before you. This I wouldnâ€™t carry with the same composure as the imminent demise of my beloved mother.