Frederic and David. Heroes


This weekend the Rai3 Radio programme “File Urbani” focuses on Warsaw…the first episode unexpectedly does not start with Frederic Chopin, but with David Bowie alighting from the train bound to Moscow and his inspiration for “Warszawa”. The second episode catches up and beautifully stages Chopin’s Etude op. 10 n. 12 “Revolutionaire”.

It is the piece which marked a real epiphany for me. It reminds me of a warm Summer evening, in Trieste. My friend A. and me had met at her home, next to the Military Hospital, to review for our Statistics exam, the first Summer exam in our first university year. She did play piano and had a beautiful collection of records, and with all our Stats books spread on the table we decide it is time for a break, and she puts this record on. The beauty and tragedy of the music made all the Statistics look pointless. The warm evening was building up a storm on the Adriatic. This was a storm of notes, so close to our Mitteleuropean sense of living in a land twisted and bent so hard by history, like Poland.

Bowie and Chopin. They may have looked so different back then. One so contemporary, the other so tragically romantic, in the Novalis sense of the word. Now both live in posterity and both are our Heroes.

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