Recently I was crying in a synagogue in Prague. It was the music that got to me. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Played by four violins a cello and bass, accompanied by a trumpet.
Let me back track a bit since I wrote the last line first.
If you would have told me as an Irish Catholic kid growing up in the welfare apartments of my town that I would be crying in a synagogue listening to music I would have stopped you at the word crying. In fact, it is likely that I would have stopped you with a fist.
Yet, there I was. A middle aged man crying like a little boy. In front of my family no less. Like any spontaneous emotional moment, it was hard to define where the tears came from. The music was beautiful of course. Hey, it was Rhapsody in Blue. The setting was as beautiful a spot as I have ever been. The synagogue is considered one of the great architectural buildings of Europe.
Crying? Me? It would take some searching for me to find the cause of this unusual outburst.
After the show we went to dinner, I drank some excellent local beer and fell off to blissful sleep.
The next day was the time for reflection. As we walked and viewed the sights I thought back to the previous day. Not the incident, the tour earlier. The tour was of the Jewish Cemetery. It’s unique and enduring place because during world war two, there were so many Jews killed that they had to stack the caskets atop each other to fit them all. The cemetery was a series of mounds of graves. A solitary hilly landscape in the middle of a bustling city.
I thought that day, about the power of music. Here I was sitting in a synagogue in Prague where ninety thousand Jews were killed listening to music written by two Jewish artists from New York. The creator’s legacy out living the oppressors.
That would be the perfect explanation wouldn’t it? It is my way as a writer, to find some perfect metaphor. The piece that fits perfectly. Tie the package up in a nice bow.
That’s all a lie. I didn’t think about any of that. The music was just beautiful enough to move me to tears.
To be honest, it’s happened before. A movie, a line in a book. This time it just happened to be music.
Those moments are what all creative people work for. Can you imagine how George and Ira would feel if you had told them as they wrote that perfect piece that over ninety years from now people would cry at the sound of their work? Is there anything better?
No, it wasn’t the tour or the history of the building, it was the trumpet solo that got me. The music.
I found a new goal for myself as a creative person. I want to make a middle aged man cry in front of his family ninety years from now. A noble cause.
Thanks and be well.