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  • KOELLREUTTER - the music revolutions of a Zen masteremanuel dimas de melo pimenta2 0 1 0

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    But hearings were not exclusive of the TwentiethCentury Music course.

    We were delighted with very rare music recordings he brought us Internet did not exist yet and there was no way to have those recordings in Brazil.

    They included not only fabulous concert recordings of Ravi Shankar, but also of great masters of India such as Hariprasad Chaurasia and Ustad Sabri Khan, who were totally unknown in Brazil, and also a countless number of Japanese composers like Tohru Takemitsu, Maki Ishii, beyond rareinterpretationsofpiecesbyBeethoven,Bach,Schubert,GuillaumedeMachault,Perotin,Leonin,Palestrina,Debussy,

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    Gustav Mahler, Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez, John Cage, GyorgyLigetiandFranzLisztamongmanyothers.

    Since the first lesson of the course on history oftwentieth-centurymusic,Inoticedthatassoonaswestarteda hearing, he closed his eyes to hear, and sank into the music like a dream.

    Sometimes,orinsomemoments,hiseyesremainedopen,butdistant,lostininfinity.Witheyesopenorclosed,his body swaying slightly, especially the head, rhythmically, sometimesthearms,afinger,asifconductingtheconcert.Each hearing was a trip to a marvelous world.

    Thefirsttime I sawhis physical reaction tomusic, Iwasbaffledthosebodilymovementssteepedinblindsightwere something natural in me since childhood. I always had to control myself to avoid being constrained by jokes and teasing, because people did not understand what was

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    happening.

    Thesensation is likebeingphysically involved in themusical discourse.

    Wehadthesamephysicalbehaviorinrelationtomusican identitythat, Iwoulddiscover little later, issharedbymany musicians.

    But itwassomething Istilldidnotknowabout,andthatfirsttimewas,inacertainsense,astofindinhimadeepspiritualrelationship.

    When,lateafternoon,almostevening,eachofthoseclasses ended, the sorrow was general. All we wanted was tocontinue.ButKoellreutterwasirreducible.Attheprecisemomentthattimeranout,itwastheendpoint,notaminutemore and usually the lesson never truly came to an end.

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    Always something to say was missed, on which he wouldreturn,attentivelyandrigorouslyinthenextlesson.There was always a student who took notes about the precise moment when the lesson was over. And the lessons always ended cut,mutilated, because as a whole they seemedmorelikeacontinuum,ajourneywithoutendandwithoutscales or breaks.

    When someone arrived late and apologize, he said gravely: My friend, the dead is always the culprit. Never the murder!. It was a way of making each one realize the importanceofrelyingontheunpredictable,betterplanningeach step.

    He said the same thing to anyone coming with an excuse.

    Nothing could serve as excuse. When he said that the dead was always the culprit, never the murder, some laugh

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    and discussion always appeared, but brief and lively. Some surprise and laugh.

    Alongyearsthatexpressionbecameoneofhisbest-known marks. In many places, especially among students, that statement was always lively commented and repeated.

    Such statement was used in the most diverse moments. If someone said that had not been able to do the work because of something happened, would immediately hear:

    Thedeadisalwaystheculprit,neverthemurder.If youhad takenprecautions, if youhad thoughtabout what could happen, this accident would have been avoided.

    Hewouldmakemaximumuseofthatstatementuntilmuch later, when urban violence, especially in So Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, no longer allowed. Then he started saying, alwayswithhisstrongGermanaccentandalwaysingood-

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    mood: Now is no longerrr possible. Now, the dead

    almost always is the culprrrit, almost neverrr the murrderrr....

    Whenastudentinsistedjustifyingthedelaybyaddingmoreandmoreexcuses,hesaid,sometimescoldanddry:

    Myfriend,Itraveledmorethanfourhundredmilesto give this lesson and I arrived early. What do you want me to say?

    Andtheconversationwasover.

    Somestudentsdidnotaccepthisattitude;theycametobeoffendedandwentawayforever.Buthedidnotcare.Forhim,everythingwasthefluidofNature,andthosewholeftshoulddoso.

    He was not a fatalist, someone blindly grabbed at

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    thefate.Onthecontrary,hefirmlybelievedonfreewill,onfreedom of decision and on the responsibility that freedom implicates. But, he was not person to close his eyes to the strangemagicofcertainsimilarities.Hehadamagicalsideinside him, very deep, unknown and unpredictable.

    Koellreuttersurelywasthemostdemanding,rigorousand dedicated teacher of music I have ever had.

    To start studying with him, one should be able to read fluently a traditional musical score, have a good musicalculture, to know at least the basics of harmony, counterpoint and other disciplines.

    Atthattime,Ialreadyreadwithfluency,atleastthescoresformymaininstrument,thetransversalflute,Ialreadyhad a good musical culture and a reasonable knowledge of those disciplines but there were gaps, as there always is.

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    He could also accept a student who knew absolutely nothingofmusicbutitwouldbeforclassesofcomposition,astodevelopprinciplesofplasticcomposition,forexample,oraesthetics.

    No matter who was, Koellreutter never refused adedicated and serious student, in any area he or she could be, buthelookedtoclearlydistinguishthegoalsandmaintainedaremarkabledifferenceinmethodologyofteaching.

    Compositioncanbeinanything,anartwork,atext,a movie or a musical piece. The important are the principlesofcomposition.Andaestheticsisalwaysessential in virtually any activity. One cannotconfuse things. If someone studies music, it is a story;ifyouwanttostudycompositionwithotherpurposes, noproblem,but itwill bedifferent. Inthe same way, a person may want to study music tobeaprofessionalorjustadilettante.Thisdoesnot put him in a level below the others. There is no

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    roomforjudgmentsofvalueorforpreconceptions.Each person should be free to study and to be what he or she wants.

    He always was very demanding. When we made mistakes in one of the several disciplines he taught, not infrequently he established an amount in money as penalty and threatened to charge with a tone of such seriousness that made the student uncomfortable and deeply concerned.

    Myfriend,thiserrorwassoseriousthatthefinewillbe the double of the money I normally determine.

    At the beginning we never knew if it really would keep our money, if it was really serious or just a joke.

    Several students could not stand the pressure they said he was too authoritarian and simply gave up.

    Of course, though threatened with firmness and

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    seriousness-becauseitwasveryseriousforhimheneverarrivedtocollectfinesincash.Whenwetalkedaboutit,hesaid without any trace of humor:

    But! Im not kidding. People have to understandthat the work should be taken with responsibility, seriously. No one can charge a penalty on someone who is working seriously. But if someone is dreaming, distracted, then, what is this person doinghere?Imnotheretowastetime.Alsoyouarenotheretowastetime.Ifsomeonethinksthatlosttimecanbelostmoney,thenhewillgivemoreimportance to what he is doing. Time, especially here in Brazil, like what also happens in India, has almost no value. But everyone gives value to money.

    ToKoellreutter,workwasthemostseriousthingintheworld, a serious approach that, in fact, has never been very common in Brazil.

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    If he asked for a task to be delivered on a given day, there could be no excuses. He gave all freedom for the student to discuss and even set the delivery time before,neverafter.

    An important part of his role as teacher was to give to the students the ability of self-management. Butmanystudents did not meet their commitments although they were,often,extremelytalented.

    Dolcefarniente... dolcefarniente...hemutteredsmiling and crossing his arms, gently moving the body forward and backward, as if was nothing to do.

    He thought that Brazil was the country of dolce farniente, in some sense like Italy. But he did not have this idea assomethingnecessarilynegative.

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    It simply was the natural way of people. Only this.

    Over the years I have witnessed recriminationsregarding some of his students, even though he has always been very discreet. Those recriminations were often duetodelaysor tonon-deliveryofwork. Inmostof the casesstudentsarrivedsmiling,joking,apologizingthewholetimeandleftsmiling.Theysmiledevenwhenhewasveryserious.Inthosemomentshewasvisiblyupset.Sometimestimeshearrived to be tough:

    Myfriend,beinglikethiswhatyouwant?Whatwi