Sunday, 2 August 2015

Stravinsky's Apotheosis

We were introduced at a café near Cutty Sark. He was a music writer of some importance, 59 years of age, and he dedicated most of his life to writing about classical music. His knowledge was vast. Listening to him talk about Schoenberg was like listening to David Hockney talk about Picasso. Riveting. He was one of the nicest and most intelligent people I’d ever met. A complete madman though.

He had this oddball theory that every piece of classical music written in the 20th century was, this way or another, a representation of a sexual intercourse. Sipping red wine of some little known Italian province, he was looking directly at me and probably wondering if I was getting any of that. At various points during our lunch I tried different topics, but there was nothing else he wanted to talk about.

Stravinsky’s Apollon Musagete was his favourite example. ‘Perfect showcase’, he repeated a number of times. “Apotheosis”, the final part of the ballet, was talked about at great length, and he got me through every detail that he said reflected the last act of a coitus. Sometimes he would lose me and I would just stare at this really expensive tie that must have cost a fortune. 

It was daft, his whole theory, but I liked the way he talked, and wanted him to go on – wondering, as our conversation was reaching its climax, if there was a single act in the 20th century that did not resemble a sexual intercourse. Wondering what he thought about this horrible pop music blasting from outside the café. And what kind of atrocious gang-rape it represented.