On Pavarotti

The following is a guest post written by someone I care deeply about.

As I have to admit that I am moved by Pavarotti’s death even though I am a die hard Domingo fan I was recalling a conversation that I had with my friends from NYU one night ten years ago. Why is it that we truly mourn and remember musicians and composers, but that Donald Trump and Bill Gates will be forgotten no matter what. Why do we know Pasteur’s and Mme Curie’s names, but we still don’t have the same emotional connotation that we feel when we talk about Mozart, Pavarotti or Jimmy Hendrix? And I think along the same lines about Lincoln and Robert E. Lee. Yes, people are fascinated with them and some pretend they are very special to them, but maybe, in all honesty, more so because they want to drive home a point about their political ideology rather than that they become teary eyed because of a special personalized memory of these historic figures. But today and in the future people will walk up to Pavarotti’s house and cry because they remember his music. I do think that there is no greater way to touch human kind than with music and I may extend that to all of the arts. But let me stay with music: people have a song or piece that reminds them of a phase in their life and people in love share music as a tribute to their relationship. And who doesn’t know the amazing feeling when music reaches your innermost feelings and stays there like a wave of beauty. I think only being in love tops this rush of joy. So, today I hear Pavarotti’s voice and I still get those tingles down my spine and I will every time I hear it again. This sensation won’t fade. He like so many other musicians has become immortal and I was the happy witness.

I think a life in music is a life well spent and this is what I have my life devoted to.  Penso che una vita per la musica sia una vita spesa bene ed e a questo che mi sono dedicato . (Pavarotti)

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6 comments… add one
  • azula Nov 27, 2007 @ 3:12

    He was truly a person that music never left your heart.
    A one true sorrow that he is no longer in this world . . . .

  • Nonpartisan Sep 8, 2007 @ 21:10

    Absolutely, anonymous — to borrow an example from my own time period of study, who was more significant to Americans’ understanding of the 1920’s, Charlie Chaplin or Calvin Coolidge? I wouldn’t want to be the historian who had to make that choice — and it’s a choice, as you say, that needs not be made at all.

  • anonymous Sep 7, 2007 @ 22:09

    My post was a tribute to a great man and his immortal influence on human kind. So, I will not take away from that or justify it. To the claim that political or economic ideas should have a greater cultural effect and that still one cannot compare one with the other (which seems to me a contradiction in itself the way Jim worded it) let me make sure that we understand culture in the eyes of an anthropologist which does not only refer to the arts, but also to science and morality. In that sense we can compare Mme Curie, Lincoln and Jimmy Hendrix. So do political and economic ideas have a greater impact on our daily life? Maybe, but that wasn’t my claim. They certainly do not have a greater emotional or cultural impact. And I certainly never argued anything about the value or sincerity of discussions about Civil War icons.

    Let me go back and use some of Martin Heidegger’s thoughts on art and history. Heidegger emphasizes the historical characteristic of art. For Heidegger history describes an event in time while art is the experience. As Lawrence Ferrara says in his Philosophy and the Analysis of Music with regard to Heidegger: “Art is a medium for the manifestation of Being to man. Art does not simply record history. Art is a place in which momentous historical activities and occurrences take place….Art is the creative preserving of the happening of the truth of historical Being in the art work.” As art is done in a common way by humans (see J. Levinson) and as it is a form of communication we understand it in a much more personalized and emotional way. I certainly do not want to take away from the great achievements or crimes of historic figures, but I do hope that we have a different relationship with those icons than with the artists that communicate the metaphysical experience of history. Luciano Pavarotti has brought this world of experience to people across nations and communicated this world of Being in time in the most intimate way. I would certainly not say that Lincoln did the same. In fact to feel so strongly about a “Civil War icon” is not a sign of familial memory, but a dangerous sign of the authoritarian character in a fascist sense. It reminds me of the rhetoric in totalitarian States.

  • Kevin Levin Sep 7, 2007 @ 13:54

    Jim, — I just had to make an exception and allow this comment through because it shows how obsessed you are with me. If you actually had taken the time to read this post carefully you would have noticed that I am not the author. Unfortunately, you are so committed to your naive assumptions regarding what motivates me that you miss even the most basic points.

  • Jim Yeatts Sep 7, 2007 @ 13:44

    What Kevin is trying to say here is that we feel differently about a celebrated human artistic talent than we do about political or economic ideas. I would argue that the two issues are really uncomparable. Both areas involve great creativity and both evoke powerful emotions, but the political and economic disciplines and agendas have a much more profound impact on our daily lives.

    Perhaps Kevin’s claim that discussions over Civil War icons are less constructive and sincere stem from his unconnectedness from a lack of familial memory of those events.

  • Nonpartisan Sep 7, 2007 @ 2:49

    “Someone you care deeply about” is right on. I’m more of an Andrea Boccelli fan than a Luciano fan, but the man had a Great Heart and will be missed deeply.

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