“I realized that my job is to awaken possibility in others.”

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Bach: Cello Suite no. 2 - Allemande, Sarabande and Gigue

Interpretation Class
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Jeremy Klein (viola)

Find the pulse that human beings live with and make it music.

— Benjamin Zander

Video Transcript

Ben Zander: Very beautiful. Bravo. Bravo.

Ben Zander: You know, it’s interesting because I’m in two minds as to what to tell you because it’s very good what you’re doing and it’s in good order. What is lacking for me is the feeling of a dance.

Ben Zander: Do you know that it’s a dance? An allemande is a dance, and I don’t want to upset the boat but I do think that a feeling of dance is in it, and there’s also a feeling of the journey of the piece. You know, where is this piece going?

Ben Zander: Incidentally, the first note is the 16th note, and you’re not playing a six. You’re doing ta-do instead of ta-da, and that’ll launch. Sorry. A real dance. Can we try and get that into it? Come a little closer so we can Yeah, there. There’s perfect. Perfect. 

Ben Zander: There we go. That’s beautiful. That has a real sense of buoyancy and fun. I don’t mean fun in the trivial sense. I mean fun in the cosmic sense. You know, Bach is in touch with some cosmic force. I call it the cosmic pulse. And if you take a little time, the pulse is still there. Should we try once again and do the repeat and feel that cosmic pulse? One and three, four.

Ben Zander: Who’s feeling the cosmic pulse? Are you feeling it? Look. Look. Do you see? Now, look. You’re a priest. Imagine you’re a priest or a rabbi and your congregation is feeling the cosmic pulse. What does that do to you? It makes you feel terrific, all right, and if you’re feeling terrific, you wouldn’t look so gloomy, and you’re looking gloomy because you’re worried because you’ve got an audition, but you already got into the schools. You should see the letter of recommendation I wrote. They’ll put you on the faculty. Don’t worry, right. Don’t worry. But now do it again, and this is your congregation. They’re feeling the cosmic pulse of Bach, and all you have to do is enjoy yourself. Can we try that now? Here we go. There are lots of ways of enjoying yourself, physically. Head up. Head up. Body buoyant.

Ben Zander: Now imagine there’s a line from you to your congregation here. Come a little closer to your congregation, all right. Isn’t that exciting to have a congregation? These people are, they’re hanging on your every word. Isn’t that right? They just want to know what you’re thinking. So, if you can get the appearance of a joyful communicator, a priest. It’s hard, isn’t it? Yeah.

Ben Zander: This guy did something very beautiful. I want to share this story with you because it’s so beautiful. He went into Harvard Square to play the viola, to raise money for the youth orchestra tour. He does it frequently, and he was playing the viola in Harvard Square and there was a woman who came and she looked in the trash and she took out a danish, which was half-eaten, and she ate it, and a man and he immediately started thinking, “I’m playing the viola to raise money for a bunch of spoiled kids to go to South America, and this woman doesn’t have anything to eat. That doesn’t seem right.” That thought was in his mind, and then a man passed by and didn’t take any notice of the woman and left some money in his case. Right?

Jeremy: Mm-hmm 

Ben Zander: And then the woman turned around, looked at him, listened, went in her pocket and took out a quarter and put it in his case, and he wrote me a letter and said, “Can you help me sort that out?” Or, you know, so many thoughts but what a beautiful story.

Ben Zander: I mean, the world is full of generosity. You’re showered with generosity. You’re swimming in generosity. In abundance and love. Wow. 

Jeremy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben Zander: And Bach is writing about that, and he wrote at the end of every piece, “For the glory of God.” Right?

Jeremy: Mm-hmm 

Ben Zander: Isn’t that beautiful? That’s the world you’re walking into when you play a piece of Bach. It should affect your whole body. Your being. Your And he had 20 children, so he had fun as well. If you could get that into your being, Bach would be alive in this room. All right. So you try once again. Go on.

Ben Zander: Right. I would recommend, just for the sake of auditions, I wouldn’t do the repeat. There’s a tradition in repeat but you’re doing beautifully. It’s coming along. I still see a lot. You’re very smart. Extremely smart, which is a problem.

Ben Zander: It’s interesting, isn’t it. Some of the best musicians are not smart in the way that you’re smart, because they actually, their minds are not full of stuff. They’re just being with the music and they live music and they breathe music, and Gabriela Montero, do you remember that pianist? And I’m not saying she’s not smart. Of course, she’s smart, but Gabriela Montero gets up in the morning and she is music. Right? George Lee. It’s the same thing. So, Yo-Yo Ma, it’s the same thing. It’s just, “Ah!” It’s like that. That’s missing for you a little bit. It’s you’re still thinking about, “Yeah but I’m not so sure, and maybe, and yeah, possibly.” And all of that is coming out.

Ben Zander: So, do the second tower and just give up all that thought and just dance. Do you dance at home? Not much. No. I know. Well, here’s my instruction. I love to dance. I really love to dance, so if you could get that from me, I’d be so happy.

Ben Zander: So, this is what you do. You go into your room and you put down the curtains so nobody can laugh, and put on some music and dance, but really dance. Dance so that your body’s just lifting, because human beings are born to sing and to dance, and then procreate but then sing and dance, so do the second half and dance. Here we go.

Ben Zander: Yeah, but you can’t dance with your face like this. I’m dancing. I’m really dancing. Yeah. Joyful. Joyful. Remember the 20 children.

Ben Zander: Good. It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. It’s on the way. You’re really great, Jeremy. Do me another movement. Do we have time? Let me have a look.

Ben Zander: Very beautiful. Bravo. Very beautiful. You know, that’s gorgeous playing. The Sarabande is also a dance and it’s a little bit too slow to imagine somebody dancing to it, and it’s often played the way you’re playing it. Just, if you were to dance to it. 

Ben Zander: It’s really one in a bar isn’t it. That’s the gesture of the Sarabande is a dance, a Spanish dance. One, two, three, but really one. So should we try that? Just push it into a slightly different tempo area and try and get it into that dancing rhythm. Two, three.

Ben Zander: Yeah. Very different feeling. Very, very different feeling. I noticed something very Did you see the gentleman at the end? Sitting there. It was very interesting. When you were playing, he was breathing with you. He was. That’s a beautiful thing.

Ben Zander: If you can find the pulse that human beings live with and it makes the music, and then you can be very simple with it. You’re a little bit engaged as if you wanted to change the text. “No, it should go this way. That’s an old Jewish habit, you know?” No, no, no. No. Trust it. Trust.

Ben Zander: So let’s do it one more time and find I just, I never noticed that before but I noticed the breathing. So just very, very simple. And you know, he, Bach, was not Jewish. He was a Protestant. He was a Lutheran, which means Thomas said, “The more you give up, the more you gain. The more you give up, the more you gain.” Isn’t that an interesting idea? So just give up some of that intensity. It’s not called right. It’s Right. So just keep it

Ben Zander: Just do it again and find that breathing place. Let’s do it together from the beginning, and if I can suggest you stand up very, very still.

Ben Zander: Beautiful. That was gorgeous. That was gorgeous playing. Beautiful.

Ben Zander: Bravo Jeremy. Let me tell you something very funny. Geiger. Geiger, the violin, and jig are connected, and what used to happen in the old days in the country life, the guy who came out and told the news played the violin, and, “Come on! Oh yay, listen to the news.” And it had a kind of rough humor to it. Can we get that? A real kind of a rough dance. A Geiger jig. And again, the cosmic pulse. Once again. One, two.

Ben Zander: Yes! Good. That’s the way. Look at that guy’s face. Isn’t that great?

Jeremy: Yeah.

Ben Zander: Look at all these faces. Look at them. Wow. Look at them.

Ben Zander: You know, that should forever answer your question about the lady with the danish because you give a gift like that, they want to give something back. They want to be part of it. They want to be part of it. And for her, 25 cents. If you played that way she would’ve given you 50 cents.

Ben Zander: So, Jeremy, I love you. You can tell, I really love you. I mean, I said to your mother just now, “The days of Jeremy’s era is about to end.” Because you’re going to college, and I’m going to miss you. I can’t tell you how much. You’re such a beautiful figure.

Ben Zander: The only thing I wish for you is more joy. More joy for you, so that you can give away more, and I think what’s keeping you away from the joy is your intelligence and your calculation and your thinking, and your measurement and wondering, and all that stuff, and if you could just have the confidence to take it off like a coat, to say, “All right, that’s that. That was my youth. Now” And when you play that way And look at the joy you gave to people.

Jeremy: Yeah.

Ben Zander: Are you aware of that? What a beautiful spirit you bring into the world, and through you, Bach can speak. Isn’t that beautiful? It’s a really great thing, but you’re great and 10 years from now you’re going to be a force in the world. I want you to be a force in the world with joy. All right? Beautiful. Well done.

Jeremy: Thank you.

Ben Zander: Thank you. Thank you.

Tim Christiansen
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