Posts Tagged ‘Mozart’

The sadness of a page left unwritten.

March 22, 2015


Facing an empty page

Facing an empty page

I have read of writers worst fears. The fears of settling down in front of an empty page. The page doesn’t beckon nor ever shows signs of life no matter how keen the aspiring writer casts his eyes on the empty sheet. A nightmare to behold. It is much the same with the painter facing an empty canvas. At least with canvas one could give it another coat of primer. The writer might in the same manner change the sheet of paper or turn it over. Some say it is best to have an idea, others would urge to make a start anyway, the idea might come along later. Write a single word or smear some paint. It is better than nothing. Get rid of the whiteness, the blankness. Anything to make a start.

It is the same with the composer. He gets up, has his or her coffee, saunters over to the desk and needs to write his first note or strike the first chord. Will it be a boring middle C?  What key ? He desperately needs the first few notes, a tune or phrase, anything to make a start. The sculptor,  facing a cold unyielding block of stone or marble. Where shall he make his first blow, start hewing away? It is not easy to be an artist (or dentist, bricklayer, statistician  for that matter.

The irony is that some of the best works get created when the artist hardly knows what he is doing. You can read this in auto-biographies. And listening to Mozart one gets the impression he would not ponder too much about what to compose next. He just could not, would not have had the time. Without hesitation he just jacked on producing voluminous beautiful  music, almost in disregard of the outcome.  He just did.

When I was teaching adults wanting to create something from nothing I used to urge them to just make a start, do a doodle. Kids have no trouble doing that. What happened to you growing up into adults? Where are you now? Remember you used to draw a house with a smoking chimney at a crazy angle to the roof? Your mum put it up on the wall to be admired by everyone. Some adults would often start by saying “I can’t do it, I was never any good.”

Where did that come from?  Who told you  can’t do something. Go on, overcome your fear. Push the charcoal on the paper and draw a line for starters, it won’t kill you.  Nothing becomes art on its own accord.

Just be a Mozart,  a Rembrandt, Sibelius, Henri Moore or a J.Verne and do it.


Life Insurance and getting away from Yourself!

November 12, 2014
My paternal grandparents wedding

My paternal grandparents wedding

It is a bit presumptuous to expect people to read everything or even anything that has been put down in writing. I mean so much is put into writing, everyone has become an author.. Could it be or even follow, that those who do, suffer from self-absorption and are delusional of their own importance. Have we all gone into me, me, and more of me?

Take an Insurance Policy. Who can possibly read a document like that? What does the Insurance Company expect? Well, they largely hope you don’t read it, especially not the fine print. Their aim is for you to fork out the moolah and fervently hope you don’t notice they have excluded any claims you might ever initiate. The most interesting part in reading, in large lettering, is where they jubilantly point out the enormous benefits of what you will get when you are dead.

Of course when you are dead they expect you to prove you died of an unexpected accident before any consideration of the payout that you have insured yourself for. Most deaths are pretty unexpected even when the doctor declares, “well, you’re pretty crook, expect not to wake up tomorrow morning Mr Oosterman, good night!” “Good night doc”, the expiring patient sighs somewhat despondently. The door bangs shut.

Of late the TV on the SBS channel has an almost indecent obsession with running many Life-Insurance advertisements. They sometimes show a couple on a grassy knoll lovingly enjoying a pick-nick. He is situated a bit higher than her, she kind of lingers a bit lower between his firm conjugal legs. Children are even lower down, playing with a hoopla or being chased by a slobbering Labrador. The wife is a bit concerned and puckered-up about the future, but he is beaming and says. “Oh darling, I have just taken out an Accidental Death Insurance and we will be fine when I am dead”. The next shot shows the wife, this time, she beaming, and gloriously optimistic, deep baking a chuck-steak casserole. Husband sits on his desk thumping down his paid Life-Insurance receipt on a special sharp receptacle for receipts. He casually leans back in a black leather office chair, as if a Robert Taylor from Quo Vadis just having slain savage lions and obstinate Christians, all at the same time, against a burning background of Rome…The Insurance Company, not unlike the Peter Ustinov, has grown even fatter!

I have always resisted Insurances. Right now we don’t have a single insurance. That’s right…not even one. The compulsory green slip on the car is the exception. Years ago, my younger brother was a sucker for life insurance. The usual ploy of: ‘Surely, you don’t want your parents to pay for your funeral,’ got him each time.” He would keep payments up for a few years and then just let is slip. He did this several times until I pointed out that a payout after death is of dubious use if not also totally un-spendable.

I mean, so what, if in the event there is no money for a decent burial? Do they keep you bolt upright, stiffly sitting in a bed forever? I don’t know of anyone who remained unburied because he did not have the money. Do they say, while wagging a finger at you, a very dead corpse; ‘sorry, no money- no box, you should have signed up a Life Policy?’ That would be so heartless. Still, a great consolation I forever keep in mind…Mozart ended up having a pauper’s funeral. In an unknown grave and very grave but his music still alive, all glorious and getting better.

And furthermore, what about the weekly event sponsored by on SBS? Whereby someone, often a famous celebrity or sports hero, trying to find out their great, great, great grandparents with endless forefather’s and foremother’s struggles in ancient life’s so lost and forgotten, only to find out a prostitute, single mother or axe murderer, even bearded convict, lurking about somewhere in those dank Births and Deaths cathedral’s archives.

The result is the close-up tearstained or sunny exultant, (depending on the inherited gene) face of the searchers, fumbling through some frayed document or standing in front of a Czechoslovakian village ruin, pondering the hardships endured two hundred fifty eight years ago just to give, after many generations, birth to you, the present ageing celebrity or kicking-ball sports man of yesteryear and still having to go on with the present stage of life. Me, me and more me!

And so it goes on, Quo Vadis?

Shelves for the Men’s shed.

March 11, 2014
The men's shed

The men’s shed

With my foray into men’s sheds I decided, as a warm up, to try and install shelving in my garage. I would get to use an electric drill, chisels, an electric saw and a hammer. Above all, it would give me an opportunity to get the feel of being in ‘a shed’. A man’s dream come true. I would get saw dust in my hair and dirt under my finger nails. H. would be so proud of me. All that staring at a computer screen has made me lose sight of the real essentials of life. Making things happen with my hands. I would regain my real inner self, my proud manhood. I’ll be beating my hairy chest once again. Like I used to.

I found my tape measure and wrote down the timber length needed for the shelving. The shelving would fit between brick piers of the garage wall. I needed to find space to store the tools needed to build the shelving. I know this sounds a bit circular but a man needs shelving to store his tools needed to build the shelving. No cost would be spared. I would use cedar wood all dressed to a butter smooth finish. My chisels, electric tools and hammer would feel nicely cared for, even after I have gone.

Last week during a ferocious hail storm twister, a huge branch of a Manchurian tree broke. It fell across the driveway hitting the roofs of the opposite town-houses. Someone must have called the Emergency Rescue squad even though no one was actually pinned down under the tree. A few sturdy men in fluoro jackets turned up very quickly.

They had large lettering printed on the back of their jackets indicating their status as Rescue experts. They wore helmets and ear-muffs. They carried and exuded authority and a large chainsaw. In little time the fallen tree was cut into small pieces and dragged away from the drive-way. They would have extremely proud wives and partners. Have I missed my vocation? I too could have been a chainsaw carrying emergency Rescuer. Instead, I am nothing but a fiddler in a shed building shelves to store tools to build shelves.

Even so, no good fretting and regretting of what could have been. I could just as easily have ended up sleeping rough or living a life without a hammer. I drove to the Home timber yard and had 6 cedar shelves cut. They measured 1020 mm long by 190mm wide.

I remember reading of a man who built his own coffin. He put this coffin in his lounge room. He did not want anyone else to be responsible for his own death. He felt that at least he could ‘own’ his own death.

The storm

The storm

He also built the two trestles that the coffin was resting on. Truly a diligent man. I have rarely heard anything even close to someone having that kind of foresight. I can well imagining him waking up each morning satisfied that ‘all was now in order’. Perhaps he even tried it out occasionally. Perhaps while watching TV or listening to a Mozart concert. There too would have been saw dust on the floor and dirt under his fingers.

He had found himself.

The second Piano Concerto by Johannes Kipfler, Opus 33 with sauce vierge.

May 22, 2013


Why do words lend themselves, at times, with associations totally removed from reality? You would never associate Kipfler with a potato; yet, I have no trouble in accepting he could have been a composer born in Leipzig, 1862. His mother thought he was a dear little boy and even at the age of two he already showed great promise when he started banging on his Blechtrommel. (Tin drum).

Gunter Grass has a timbre to his name that can only ever be associated with being a writer of words in a certain order. He wrote the Tin Drum. You would be hard pushed to respect a writer called ‘Essenfrescher’, would you?  Perhaps this is why in the world of the famous, especially movie-stars, names are sometimes perceived as hindering fame and are changed to a more appropriate sounding pseudo. I mean Boris Karloff could never have gotten there if he was called by his real name of William Pratt or Dean Martin as Dino Crocetti, Doris Day as Doris Kappelhoff.

Names can be fluid or grindingly rasping with associations far removed from what they stand for or are. I mean, I don’t think there are many still called Hitler. The telephone book in Germany or Austria reveals not a single person named Hitler anymore. Apparently his father did not like the sound of Schicklgruber and preferred Hitler. Even the name Schicklgruber is now rare, as is Goebbels etc.

So, what to make of words and names? Why is a name change perceived to add to possible achievements. If Bach was called Kohlrabi, would his music have found less acceptance? Who was it again with, “what’s in a name?” or, “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Shakespeare was destined to write brilliantly with a name like that. Mozart-Concert is so symbiotic in name. It had to happen.

Would Villa Lobos have written Bachianas if named Gauncho Pistachio? Who knows?

However, after my nonsense, what seems that what ‘is’ counts most and not the given name. Hmm, I am not so sure.

I went to get my hair cut last week and when I was asked how I want it cut, I said to the girl; “I would like to look a bit more like Justin Bieber”. “Can you do that?” Why? She said, a bit bewildered looking. Much to H’s embarrassment, I sometimes act stupidly convincing. I made it worse by saying; “I want to be mobbed by teen-age girls again”.

( I was only ever shunned by teenage girls) I then realized that my joke didn’t get traction and I recanted somewhat by saying. “Only joking”, “please cut it any way you like, perhaps as it was eight weeks ago’.”  “ Please, go for it, you cut so well,” I smarmed while surrendering totally to her comb and scissors.

She took her revenge at the end of the cut by asking very loudly; “what about your eyebrows, shall I trim them ‘somewhat”. The sting was in the ‘somewhat’ indicating my eyebrows were so verdantly overgrown it was more in need of weed-killer. Ah, old age is advancing especially in ear hairs and brows. It made me repent my Bieber remark. For days I was sulking over it. H reckoned it served me right and was secretly gloating.

Even so, Justin Bieber’s name wasn’t a hindrance to his genius, was it? Mind you his fame might well be waning. He was booed a couple of nights ago. Those sort of fames based on talent quests are so fickle, they come and go like falling stars, they light the scene for a second and fall spectacularly down into darkness to be forgotten forever.

Still, I sometimes secretly wish for a light mobbing by hordes of screaming teenage girls, after all those years. Grow up Mr Oosterman, your eyebrows are showing. Keep clinging to your wreckage.  🙂

Life’s Lament with Apple Crumble and Rhubarb

February 13, 2013

Life’s Lament with Apple Crumble and Rhubarb.


There is no denying that life resembles a sort of crusty crumble. The top often hides the soft inner core, sometimes sweet, sometimes sour. It does come with risk of failure as well, especially if thrown together recklessly. I hate cooking by measuring ingredients and prefer failure to fiddling with scales and grams. I normally box the lot together and hope for the best. I live dangerously, at least in the kitchen. It’s all one can do at the age of endless advertisements on TV urging us into ‘funeral plans’ while still alive. (Please, keep off the grass)

The really lucky ones, I often think, are those able to make a living from their creative instincts. You sometimes see them being interviewed, perhaps an opera singer, a composer or a Latvian ceramic artist, world famous, who are on top of their output and are known by the all glitterati. Presidents and other despots are queuing up to be photographed standing next to them. They are running the crest of the wave and earn a good living from their art.  There can’t be a greater satisfaction than to live from one’s own creative output.  To live from what one really feels passionate about doing. Some might really want to work as a welder, run a farm or make model trains. That’s lovely and exactly what I mean. That’s what creativity involves; let’s not put too fine a point or limitation on creativity. Anything goes in my book.

Alas, this had eluded me so far but enjoying somewhat the nasty schaden Freude and consolation that it eludes most of us. The operative word that springs to mind is ‘compromise’. It’s the banana skin on the doorstep of the life of ‘l’artiste’. How to make a quid from art, that’s the question? I wonder how Shakespeare managed or old Rembrandt Van Rijn, Caravaggio? I don’t think there were any social services available then. Didn’t Mozart got buried in a pauper’s grave? He did not sign up with Aami’s funeral plan. Perhaps a rich red mitered Bishop or an aristocrat Von Richhovenvorstendom propped up the artists at that time?

Why do I get tears everytime I hear this music?

In any case, no President has requested or queued up to be photographed next to me, only the local Butcher years ago when Channel TV 9 wanted to do an interview about my plunge into the world of vasectomy, ‘performed’ by a female doctor aptly named Barbara Simcock. She has performed over 14 000 vasectomies so far and counting. What she doesn’t know about testicles is not worth looking at!  I once heard “Wall-nuts in wet socks”. She was ever so gentle.

The obvious answer would have to be that I am and never will be any of those giants, or even lesser ones, perhaps at best just a pigmy of an artist, worse, a kind of garden gnome of an artist, decorating a suburban garden with a white painted worn Chevrolet tyre around the bed of limping petunias and a leaning zinc alume fence as a backdrop for failure. Oh the ignominy of it all, what fate?

Space and the lack of storing all my paintings forced me into downsizing and decided I would branch off in putting words in a certain order.  My first word, if I remember correctly, was ‘exorbitant’ which I liked and followed this up quickly with another one called ‘exhortation’. Both have a nice ring to it, don’t you think, almost musical? It’s the vowels each time followed by the consonants, that does the trick. I am not sure of many words yet, and possibly, that’s the best way to be when writing. Words are inter-changeable and can also be deleted.

It never occurred to become something, I mean building a career in something. I don’t know; I could have been a bank director or dentist or a corporate accountant. Luck had it I managed money making fairly easily but not in monotonous jobs. I did work in a bank and offices for a while but the yawning ennui was mind numbing, sapping the spirit. I just never had much of an ambition or was driven to make myself into having a job of any importance. I always portrayed myself into the future, doing it year after year and came up with an apocalyptical ‘the horror, the horror”.

Perhaps I should have studied. I imagine going in the morning to Harvard University with a nice satchel casually slung over my shoulders, being greeted by other students and hurling myself in front of a politician’s car in some show of vehement protest. Sometimes I think it would be nice to have had a PHD. Dr Gerard Oosterman sounds nice (with Cum Laude). Too late for a career with the Police or Customs or flying a helicopter, swooping down on Kim DotCom in New Zealand.  Now, there is a man passionate about his art, (fleecing multi nationals) and he is making a nice living.

As for the apple and rhubarb crumble, a huge success. Nice and tart, not too sweet.

Just like real life.