Readers may be surprised to hear that I spent much of the summer working on The Rest Is Noise — a book I supposedly finished writing last summer. These things have a way of pulling you back in. In anticipation of the paperback edition (to be published by Picador Books on Oct. 14), I have been devising a couple of web-only features that will become operational in the next few weeks. The paperback itself required a little more work than expected. And I have been preparing the manuscript for translation into German, French, and various other languages. The task has been to track down, as much as possible, the original-language versions of all quotations that appear in the book. Only the translators will see this somewhat ridiculous multilingual incarnation, but here's a sample paragraph:
“Il y a trop de musique en Allemagne,” Romain Rolland wrote, back in the heyday of Mahler and Strauss. Something was lurking, the French writer suspected, in these humongous Teutonic symphonies and music dramas—a cult of power, un “hypnotisme de la force.” Germans themselves recognized the demonic strain in their culture. During the First World War, the not yet liberal-democratic Thomas Mann wrote a manifesto titled Betrachtungen eines Unpolitischen, in which he praised all the backward German tendencies that he would later come to lament in the pages of Doktor Faustus. In the earlier work, Mann states that die Kunst “hat einen unzuverlässigen, verräterischen Grundhang; ihr Entzücken an skandalöser Anti-Vernunft, ihre Neigung zu Schönheit schaffender ‘Barbarei’ ist unaustilgbar . . . .”
To summarize briefly, there is too much music in Germany, and beauty-creating barbarism may also be a problem.
The other exciting development around here is that I have finally acquired Sibelius — the software, not the composer. Up above is the Salome clarinet line that I'm always rattling on about, the one with the scale that starts off in C-sharp major and then detours weirdly into a semblance of G major. For more, go to my Chapter 1 page, now featuring l'auteur lui-même at the piano.