f u g u e   s t a t e    p r e s s
p.o. box 80, cooper station
new york, ny 10276
212-673-7922
208-693-6152 fax



from Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto

by Joshua Cohen



- MUSIC -

Good evening!

:

Distinguished virtuosi, acclaimed virtuosos and virtuosas of this the greatest orchestra in the world, members and memberesses of this fine ensemble, tuxedos and dresses of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, you behind me Iíve stooped to rehearse with for far too many seasons now and have yet to conquer, consider this your cue! to draw out the long bows: downbows for the 1st violins, upbows for the 2nds - the bowings are as necessary as they are Schneidermannís, written into your parts, yes, believe it or not, in his own hand, and such hands! (though I helped some, because among his many other lacks in this country was a publisher) and, yes, letís have the final cadence, drawn out to the last and stiffest hair, to the frog and to the tip of the bow as theyíre called,
            okay! gasp, we donít want anyone asphyxiating on us, now do we?

:

Will the orchestra please stop? desist?
    Everyone finished?
           Gasp, itís okay! If you all just remain seated, and listen, I promise that no one will get hurt. Trust me, everythingís going to turn out fine.

:

Good evening!
           Good evening ladies and gentlemen, good evening kids of all ages, good evening my exwives and my wife and prospective wives, good evening some of my own children out there in the audience, good evening my lawyer, my agent, my accountant, good evening my recordlabel execs, good evening my podiatrist (who just last Thursday she told me that my onychauxis it had developed into onychogryphosis, had a professional trim my nails),
           good evening my proctologist (the mother to my thrombosed external hemorrhoids, donít ask), good evening my ex-inlaws, my inlaws, my prospective inlaws, to you aspiring musical professionals out there, to the would-be musical professionals only if, the musical amateurs and the failures, good evening to that most notable of moguls Mister Samuel Rothstein Jr. just sitting out there dumb in row one two three four FIVE, good evening to my poolboy also letís call him my unofficial psychopharmacologist, good evening also to an exwifeís poolboy who letís call him her poolboy, good evening to my great colleague the violinist Maestro Jacob Levine ladies and gentlemen, everybody give him a hand! a warm round applause!
           good evening my students, to those who want to be my students, those whoíll never be my students, good evening my hair & makeup homosexual, my Thai masseuse, my rabbi, my S & M dominatrix, good evening my grandson who he fixes my electronics and gets them to blink and chirp like new, not to forget my therapist PhD and if I did what repression would that imply? and so a good evening to my therapistís therapist too, a most good evening to the harpist who I lust after though in professional quiet,
           my orchestra, good evening.
           Thank you all for the pleasure of your attendance. It means the world to me that you all showed up.
            Listen: I am standing here on stage, under the proscenium arch, in the worldís most famous and honored concerthall. Having finished performing for you the 1st movement of the Schneidermann Violin Concerto. The 1st movement of two movements of the first, last, and only violin concerto my friend Schneidermann he ever wrote. And addressing you instead of performing its cadenza. Understand. Or this is my cadenza. Understand? A parenthetical pyrotechnic flourish. A tangent without meter. A brilliantissimo solo of souls and so on. In matters of art, you decide, and while youíre deciding,
           take your time, all you need,
           youíve paid all too much for that privilege - allow me to wipe the sweat from my bow and my brow with a handkerchief I pocketed from my hotel, uptown, from the maidís pushtray, that bounty on coasters in the hallway of my accommodation, ultradeluxe, hotel name of Grandsomething, you should look it up sometime, God itís gorgeous! everythingís marble: bookmatched or is it matchbooked like a violinís back the whole lobby itís like a hulking revetment of Proconnesian cippolino marble all of it aching huge-veined as if the stone itself is perpetually aroused and the maid, well, sheís some sun-skinned, indigene ingťnue with the sweetest two loaves, ready for sanctification, tucked away under that pink as a tongue uniform that it fits her as tight as her name does: MarŪa, or at least thatís what her fantasy-fulfilling nametag has it as, just MarŪa because weíre just old friends, a mother of one and oneís enough heís so smart (demanding), a mixed-race genius kid with enormous as-if-for-myopia glasses at least in the grey-wisped school snapshot she showed me his motherís twice-divorced the third guy he dropped dead (heart), first love in Sing-Sing for three strikes heís out of the armed robbery racket but thatís a whole other spiel, other lives altogether and Iíll know more tomorrow, I hope, or I wonít know anything more tomorrow, I hope, but Iíd have filled the most Stradivarian of her F-holes anyway, varnished her good and hard forever and ever:
           ewig, ewig as that great Christian Gustav Mahler wouldíve had it, but only if Schlesingerís conducting, or Leonard Bernstein - and theyíre not. I am. Sort of. Me.
           But who am I?
           the resident European in America, the only sane American in Europe.
           Who do I think I am?
           everywhere an international genius, a bearer-of-conscience-and-culture, once loved as much as respected.
           But Iím no one, really.
           Donít be shocked! The cultured are so easily shocked!
           Donít whisper! Donít gossip! Donít ask-around!
           Youíll never find answers in music, only more questions and so, yes, I have a speaking part, not quite notated, not quite mentioned in the program youíve glanced through and idly referenced, riffled through the least piano of my pianissimos and are now manically flipping through to see if I have a history of mental instability, some schizoid personality disorder that would serve to explain this away.
           My decision to address you with my voice instead of with my violin.
           Allow me then to assure you all of my - relative - sanity, to promise you all that I am relatively sound (ask any of my doctors, all ten of my chiropractors who theyíve received complimentary tickets for this evening).
           And donít see, listen. Hear that itís not as if Schneidermann he was oblivious, not like the Lethe it flowed in one ear out the other: Schneidermann he was the iconoclast even the iconoclasts worshipped and so itís not as if he didnít forehear this, that my friend, that my only friend the failure that was my Schneidermann he didnít in some sense expect this. Maybe even wanted this. Intended it and set it in motion. And anyway Schneidermann heís left no explicit instructions as to my address being unwanted, left no even veiled directives as to my address, this, being unnecessary.
           Because he, in the end, the finaless finale, left nothing.
           Except this Concerto, a sizable body of piano compositions, string trios and vocal music, some ephemera, mementos mori, occasional and souvenir pieces, a heap of juvenilia and life entire which is now up to me, and my lawyers as much as I pay them, to sort out: to scrounge around his refusal for either an on-paper or a spiritual Will, some indication or instructions and given over at any expense as to what the hell Iím supposed to do with the so-much-of-everything, the Nachlass itís said that Schneidermann himself left unfinished, incomplete as his life unlived, fallen short of its fullest, unresolved to what I know is his destiny still.
           And as his, then yours from mine.
           Because from the very beginning,
           my motherís curtains up,
           I was a soloist. By the year I left Europe I was already the worldís famously renowned virtuoso. And itís tonight and tonight only that I am yours, fully, truly, away from the music, away from my instrument now and so forced to go under, descend, into life, to the world and the midst of those who suffer it. Among whom there are some, a select few, a mere handful it sometimes seems, who they find solace, find peace, in me, in my instrument, in my music,
           might be hard to believe it but there are some who in listening to me, to my instrument, to my music they end up and maybe for the first time ever hearing themselves. Hear also that there are those who praise me, whether they praise me for profit or out of some psychological need it doesnít much matter as there are many (though less and less of some and more and more of others with each passing season), who praise me as less a violinist than a virtuoso and less a virtuoso than a musician, in the words of Zeitblum always a critic and here tonight, and hello! quote a pure musician unquote (pure: shades of Pythagoras and, yes, shades, Orpheus), though Zeit heíd be the first - or the second after Schneidermann if he was still around - to admit that such critical commendation, such raving recommendation of my greatness with just the faintest note of the aloof, the requisite snob is by now nearly 20-30 or more years outdated, more or less applicable to any other concertís play, fitting almost to a previous career and not to the geriatric violinist you hear before you tonight:
           praise has no use for me now, all washed or is it dried up as I am, forsaken by those unworthy of even forsaking me, left for old by Schneidermann, broke by my wives present and ex, betrayed even by music: it dying too - and perhaps dying with Schneidermann - and not even having the most modest modicum of respect to say goodbye. To finish out its movement. Goodluck. To realize its possibility, to resolve and so Godspeed to the soul! the life and conscience of the public bound now in wires, in wireless wires and wrapped in repurposed manuscript like the domestic practice of Anna Maria Keller, Frau Haydn using her husbandís compositions as butcherpaper - sheís the model, the patron saint of all you patrons:
           no, itís not that none of you are affected, that none of you feel, itís more Elemental as Schneidermann he always said, more Fundamental as Schneidermann he always insisted, itís that you donít even know from music, that you donít even know what music is anymore, no one does and what to expect? like just last week a man on the subway, an old thin-lipped gray-goner out on the D train who he must have recognized me or maybe not but still addressed his need, anyway this mass-transiting-dead he just turned and with shatter all over his face, his ears dangling like pierogies stuffed with testes he asked me and simple enough what music was, asked me what is music? and what did I do? I answered him as fast as glib allows with that old proverb popularly attributed to Louis Armstrong that if you have to ask youíll never know, that if you donít know, you never will but know that when I arrived at my ladyfriendís one bedroom with kitchen-corner (a Polish woman out on Manhattan Beach), and had taken care of my conjugals I got myself up off her aureolian duvet in skin and sweat, went over to her packed if never understood wall-length walnut shelves and plucked her Websterís dictionary (the first possession sheíd acquired upon arriving in America last decade is a detail she furnished me), thumbed away and for the virgin time ever at my age and level-of-success to MUSIC, to the entry for and of MUSIC and there standing in midmorning sun, drip and pink-paisley socks I suddenly lost my faith in words too:
           not only wasnít my picture in there but Schneidermann heís not in the Grove either, you understand? or at least not in the edition I own, lacunaed from the volume Riegel to Schusterfleck - a tragedy,
           a travesty,
           unconscionable, and so allow me the opportunity to rectify your ignorance, will you? official ignorance too but weíll begin at the begun, allow me to fill in the gaps in every melody ever spewed through this great hall, yes: might I take a moment of your evening and of my solo to recall Schneidermann? an artistic decision that might allow his ghost, if ghost he is, to rest easier with this liberty Iím taking and, sure,
           whatís to be expected? youíre grumbling again! already! shouting at me as if I could hear you with all this music in my head, all these memories of memories of,
           me just another voice in the din, all this heteroglossolalia verging on ipsissima verba in here (Schneidermann), so that I canít for the life of me remember that which is most important,
           the chaff from the,
           the forest from
           the forest in Poland where Schneidermann he - no, only what I want to, what I myself know will I remember: first-off this great man and our friendship,
           our kinship,
           the ship that my father and I took over (the Leviathan, unfortunately my real father and not my Schneidermann), steaming into this great golden orb that sets on my neck, shining down over New York and yet giving no warmth.
           If you would just listen you would hear: about my life, about his life, about our lives and our life,
           and this violin you only 15 minutes ago were so tuned to, a violin actually owned if not played by Hitler - actually, no, it wasnít but for a moment you believed me, for a moment this artifact it deepened us, made everything different. Schneidermann himself though played this violin (though not too well),
           Schneidermann who maybe died insane as he ever was as you all - should - know the long-story-short, maybe read of his disappearance last and laziest Sunday on the rearmost page of the newspaper of record or in the few as elite glossed magazines that they printed up his posthumous fame - his 14 minutes and 59 seconds of post-mortem renown, his not even quarter-hour resurrection of which this concert, commenced at my own request, my own pull, my own financial outlay and insistence as shrill as any wife ex or present is almost certainly the final act, the 2nd and last movement and then what?
           died insane, maybe, died exactly how though? and where? died anyway or at least this late afternoon I buried him, Schneidermann who he gifted me this violin - which itself was a gift to him, a Baronís accolade of a Schneidermannís earliest and onlyest success, the opera - as if to reward me for my or my fatherís foresight in fleeing Hitler (me with my father, me without my mother or my Schneidermann), and so Hitler in the poetic sense which causes love and wars might have owned it had I and my father not been lucky and smart in that order.
           A question! From among the orchestra ingathered behind me to stare at my soloing tush, 107 souls, 108 for the 2nd and final movement if we ever get to it when the harpist punches in - sheís just sitting there lovely now, gorgeous, remote, manicure folded in lap and all of her mortified - from among you, how many actually understand what youíre playing, really, truly, I ask rhetorically? because everything the soloist does is rhetoric, in fact - or, as one of my lawyers always says,
           in point of fact, which Iíve never quite figured out - everything nowadays is rhetoric,
           not rhetoric as one of the fine arts,
           as Plato would have had it,
           as an essential instrument, as a staple of every fine not to say total education but in the sense - or senselessness - of these bitchboos, heckles and jeers that some of you are now giving out, sounding without first listening as I attempt to steal Schneidermann back, to claim him for art from the posthumous encomiums and their economy, yours, imprudent in your sounding without first listening, as if to prove your own existence, as if my addressing you here, now, doesnít prove it already! and so just go ahead! feel free!
           Good evening, Mister President of this hall soon to fall. Just take a seat. You own them all. Weíll be here for awhile.
           As long as youíre at it someone might as well go around to a bodega near here and pick up some overripe migrant-picked Trenton-fresh tomatoes from Josť or Manuel, or MarŪa if sheís here? if you got those tickets hopefully just for you and your dear mother, or was she dearly-departed-dead? and so besides her (with her excuse, being a member of a minority, 60 million-strong), how many of you out there know what youíre hearing when youíre listening? know what youíve heard? and without anyone telling you first, providing your reaction, vetting your opinion? Letís elect someone then ó arenít democracies great? except in art ó and then have him appoint someone else to get those rotten veggies, and even if no one ends up throwing them itís okay because Iím sure at least one of my women knows how to make soup.
           Because initial misunderstanding, at-first ununderstanding, is okay. Is fine. Is permissible. To-be-expected. But ignorance is not.
           Even I, myself, well-trained from three years, had no idea what to think the first time that Schneidermann he played this, not this but his Concerto for me and in the piano reduction in which nothing at all was reduced, first day of harmony instruction at the Music Academy in Budapest - a strange discipline, the study of harmony, and even stranger to begin it with this composition on the first day of that first study, but such was Schneidermann, that was his genius, was his total need for total attention, for validation, his method stranger even than this, than his Concerto which Schneidermann he explained, this piece weíve paused in, thusly as he paced the room,
           and Schneidermann he paced like an inept attempt at tuning a string: tight, nervous vibrations and then gradually, after hours of exercises as physical as mental, gradually loosening, slackening every day toward a napís 5 p.m., loosing pitch, becoming not music but gut, pure gut and
           gut luck as Schneidermann he always pronounced it explaining that to Helmholtz, Hermann, the acoustic scientist of Bonn and Berlin who he also believed, Helmholtz did, that life it was brought to the earth by meteorites from further stars, or at least according to Schneidermann who he was my instructor in much more than music, in art too, in the lowest discipline of history, in the highest discipline of philosophy (metaphysics),
           in life,
           Helmholtz whoís dead, 1894, as is Mahler, ditto Schlesinger who he died however as Bruno Walter because how can you hope to die well with a Jewish name? Schneidermann he often asked no one and least of all himself, Jewish dirt dug with a Jewish shovel is fine, yes, sure, a Jewish stone too with a Jew under it under some Jewish trees with no names, understandable, but a Jewish name on the stone? that might be asking too much, might be too evident, out-in-the-open, in-too-many-faces Schneidermann he often said over coffee and coffee and coffee and coffee
           (wherever Schneidermann and I went, pre and post the matinee movies, wherever there were free refills, BOTTOMLESS CUPS) - amber-voiced Bernsteinís gone and, well, maybe even Schneidermann too, yes, maybe heís dead, dead as all the others, as all the other Jews, maybe even more so, forgotten, my real father who he wanted to be my Schneidermann passed long ago and me soon enough. And gut, cat gut, is what they used to make violin strings from if you didnít know or forgot - thatís what cats are for, ask my friend the newspaper editor Katz who he own ten street versions of them, and then of course the initial stages of violin domestication are often likened unto a catís screeching,
           and what hack composer was it anyway who he transcribed his kitten tripping across the piano keys and had himself a fugue subject? Schneidermann he once told me and I forgot, he always told and I always forgot, like who for that matter lining a birdcage? Frau Haydn again? who she was also so religious that,
           or a litterbox with scores of whom, Herr Baryton? yes, Schneidermann he would know, would have known, always knew and me? Iíve never owned animals for the simple reason that theyíre dumb, dumber even than humans, than people, but Schneidermann he kept spiders in a jam-jar (as Spinoza, an intellectual pretension), spiders heíd pit against each other in death-duels, and once - but you could never tell if he was joking or serious, or just old - but once after weíd left an undifferentiated matinee Animated movie together Schneidermann he told me that he would have no problem owning a cat (Bast, an Egyptian goddess), that heíd invite a cat into his home (his apartment, his room), no problem, but only if he could charge it rent, that rent it was the one condition for the catís tenancy, then asked me how much I thought he could charge a cat rent, how much did I think a cat it was ready, willing or able to pay for a manuscript-laden corner and Schneidermannís heart-intentioned hospitality? but it was not pets but Schneidermann though I was explaining (though I am, in a sense, also Schneidermannís pet),
           but if I was to explain Schneidermann to you Iíd first have to explain his work to you, to explain this piece to you, this piece weíve paused in, in my wild caesura of his Concerto but of course Schneidermann he was not at all an explained man, in no way open to explication, nothing programmatic about him or just the program itís as long as unknowable: man and work and work and man, same thing, one and the same, inseparable,
           holding fast to one another,
           each saving the other,
           inter-refugees if you will, both fleeing the terror of popular inquisition?
           (but does that sing to a grave-shaped ear beyond this vale of
           meres?), and donít send in your responses, donít care what you think,
           if you even could and at this remove - itís all at best a mystery wrapped in an enigma strangled by a questionmark as stooped as his posture.
           Enigma, the word, so used, slips, slinks into its own definition, after some thought is internalized, turned inward but the word in my own language, my first language, word I learned young, wrapped tight in my white alpaca sailorsuit:
           itís rštsel, a near anagram on my own name, surname of Lšsterer which has or had the meaning of mocker, now Laster, a vice and anglicized as subsequently Americanized as all things are and without an umlaut - Immigration, ROTHSTEIN management and my promoters to thank for that - prefixed by Gottes­­ - , as in Gotteslšsterer, and I mean blasphemer, word-for-word a god-mocker and, living up to my name, or down, I mock through my music and, as a naturalized Laster, I last all night, just ask me tomorrow and Iíll answer just as I did when the newspapers and magazines they called in response to my calls, left messages because I always screen and who doesnít in this city? called back again and again,
           wanting to know,
           not to understand but just to know,
           to fix the facts as one editor she said as if the facts they could be fixed and how?
           Born in either Buda or Pest - I forget which - on New Yearís Day 1910, Schneidermann was.
           Schneidermann to me: on November 11, 1911 which does seem too late in Kisvarda, Hungary.
           Schneidermann to me: New Yearís Day 1906 in Bohemia, later Czechoslovakia but of Hungarian parentage (where their name it would have been änajdrman).
           Schneidermann to me: 1902! in MŠramaros-Sziget, Romania, of Hungarian parentage.
           Schneidermann to me: 1904 in whatís now Ukraine of Hungarian parentage (Schneidermann, when there was another word he never said JEWISH).
           Schneidermann to me: Uěhorod, Christmas Day 1909.
           Schneidermann to me: on the date in question in Koöice.
           A hairless man who he never had to shave despite claiming he shaved three times a day,
           a bald man like Pan with a bony skull and bumpy forehead that might remind Americans of a dinosaur, Jews of a prophet like Jeremiah or Moses, and which the Europeans - if there are any left - once referred to as un double front.
           A bald bone of man who he took to wearing a ladies wig he found on the street,
           dumpster-diving Schneidermann he often said, it should be recognized as an Olympic sport,
           Schneidermann he was always thinking of the Greeks,
           a man who once when he was walking and because his shoes they were too large as too wide for him and so they would always fall off him was once and in Midtown bitten on the heel of which foot I donít remember by a snake. Which race of snake I donít know. He lived.
           Schneidermann to me: I was born in Miskolc, but we lived in NyŪregyhŠza, in Debrecen, in Bťkťscsaba, in OroshŠza - stop me when Iím getting warm I always thought, the past is the past and who wants to remember? I always thought,
           when youíre born a musician youíre born to the world as Schneidermann he always said.
           Schneidermann to me: we had no money.
           Schneidermann to me: we were poor.
           Schneidermann to me: after my father died.
           Schneidermann to me: my first composition,
              my Opus 1,
                             to tell you the truth, I donít consider it part of my output,
                                                       well, the first piece I ever composed it was scored for four
                                                       voices, SATB, a chorale - I was four years old, I was five,
                                                       Schneidermann he once said he was three- on a text
                                                       of Mother's,
                      his mother she died in childbirth,
                      twins,
                      a Rudy and a Schneidermann they were,
           on a text of Goetheís,
           on a text of my own, in my most primitive Hebrew which I learned from a renegade melamed who:

           Gar manches Herz verschwebt im Allgemeinen,
           Doch widmet sich das edelste dem Einen which would translate to: many a heart wanders (this was the bass and the tenor, in canon) / and is lost in too wide a love (the alto) / but (the soprano) the noblest devotes itself to one object alone and I, Schneidermann the object he once told me over three of my mentholated cigarettes to one of his triskaideka-filtered coffees, I sang the eunuch soprano, his father the alto with an aunt on tenor, an aunt on bass and Schneidermann at the world if not universal, intragalactic premiere he was leading them at the piano, bashing as thrashing, all-forearm strum-thumping as he doubled them on the old upright, on the asthmatic mold-splotched spinet they had before Schneidermann he turned 12 and they the aunts they got him the grand, sacrificing all they had for his art which was after all all Schneidermann he ever asked of himself - sacrificing his health (it was an Asian flu-day for him at an age when an Asian flu-day it could be your last) to play this first ever piece of his for me and from memory as the manuscript it was lost in the War which Schneidermann he always, often referred to as
           what happened or as
           that which happened - this was six-seven years ago down at my old place in Midtown (west, Iíll never live in the east again), now an exwifeís, actually a husband-in-lawís when we Schneidermann and I we were rehearsing together and for no purpose I understood yet another violin-piano sonata that Schneidermann heíd never finish and after interrupting my second entrance at m. 94 to play this piece of juvenilia for me (because the melodies they were related),
           my Opus -1, my Opus Prehumous if you want, if you will Schneidermann he said:
           so shoot me! I was young!
                      and to put up with that trauma,
                                 with what happened, with
                                           what had happened,
                                 witnessing my then-wife being beaten to death in front of me (Poland, 1944), youíd have to be crazy to rank it with his mature work, to set this work - play - alongside those late great masterpieces comparable to if not completely surpassing their models:
           the three infamous hammerblows of Mahlerís 6th Symphony of 1906: his enforced Jew-resignation from the Vienna Opera, the death of his four-year-old daughter Maria, the diagnosis of his own fatal heart condition by a certain Doktor Marianus - is anyone else in the house? paging posterity! all transfigured, revivified, remade and incarnated through Schneidermannís never acknowledged thefts, treatments, borrowings like for example the eight bars note-for-note in the upcoming if ever 2nd and last movement that were taken, sans scoring though without acknowledgement, thanks or even a postdated personal check to Arnold SchŲnberg, from the Masterís 1926/7 Der biblische Weg prefiguring his later operatic masterpiece Moses und Aron with the two tablets of brothers bound into one character, one Max Aruns which was a name he used, the alias Schneidermann he gave at the roach-ridden rat-shit-spackled Westside SRO he lived in throughout the 50s and 60s before I,
           and how SchŲnberg over there, legally Schoenberg over here in Los Angeles, Californ I-A how he couldnít finish the thing, couldnít bring himself to finish his last and only opera, couldnít despite all complete the 3rd and final act, as no-poetry-after-Auschwitz Adorno pointed out himself falling victim to silence, formlessness and void, nullity the punishment for violation of the 2nd Commandment against the making, even remaking of graven images that Moses he smashes sometime in there somewhere as for years! years! - in America, on the Pacific, the wrong ocean - SchŲnberg he hesitated to set to music the first and only scene of Act III and Act Final and how a bit before his death he consented or was it relented? anyway allowed this 3rd act of his masterwork ďto be performed without music, simply spoken,Ē in the event of his being unable in his final days which he was and they were to complete its musical setting,
           the first two acts of which work though and to my ears at least (or to my memory, from the first, last and only times I heard either, one from Schneidermann and the other at the Met at which I was sleeping with a bovine extra in the Golden Calf scene)
           sound like an absolute and absolutely non-ironic, entirely ill-intentioned rip-off - if my memory serves, as Schneidermann who oftentimes was my memory he once in a rare moment of strength insisted: that that opera entire indeed it was largely a measure for measure and often a note-for-note-for-note theft of his, Schneidermannís, own and only opera, his Die Ziege of 1932/33,
           The Goat for those who may need opera translated it was his own one and only, first and last opera: a huge hit which changed everything for him which would change yet again in a few years, seven, six, which won him a heap of acclaim and money which the War it quickly lost him, on a libretto by a certain Z. Hofmeister (one f, heíd remind you), a bloated-to-beautiful man-about-town, Berlin, who he would let Schneidermann engage his sister and then his wife while Hof he was out sucking anuses, indeed out doing anything but working on The Goat (through the mails, it took him three years),
           his libretto on a well-worn if not by then already totally hackneyed Jewish theme as all themes are and absolutely everything is Jewish if youíre that type of Jew, and so you have to understand that even then which must seem to at least most of you out there a forever ago we - they - were exploiting from a high as mighty, Sinai-summit of universal Kultur the whole shtetl aesthetic,
           the schmaltzified as did Chagall,
           as later did the Noble Singer,
           using it to our own ends, mocking our own superstition while out-moderning the goyim in the process, destroying their nationalism, at least condemning it while clinging fast to our own throughout all four 10-scene acts of The Goat and beyond into world (its popular overture, often performed separately in its day) in which, I hate summary and you should too:
           in which a rich, womanizing Duke and is there any other kind? no, heís a Baron, van or von Something or Other,
           might as well be half-German, half-Austrian minor nobility with a name like Gregor van Vonvon as that was the maturity of the thing, the libretto in which,
           the Baron van or von Baron who he loses his virility, the guy just wilts, canít-get-it-up and this needless to say is way before the little blue pills, an immensity prior to 100mg in one share or is it tablet of PFIZER? and so heís unable to perform, nothing, no cure works and in the very first act he tries them all: prayer, prayer, the ingestion of variegated roots and tubers, primitive suction treatment involving the muted use of an offstage trombone, the curtain going up on the whole spiel with him in bed with one of his many women, a peasant girl just laughing at him, laughing, laughing, "laughter billowing the damascene canopy of the oaken four-poster into clouds purpling the settingís sun" - and so much for Hofís stage directions! Indeed, this is the first and to my knowledge only purely laughing aria in or out of the repertoire, an aria in which a woman, A Peasant Girl (in this instance, the debut, a wide-eyed, equine-mouthed mezzo-soprano with knuckles for nipples), she just laughs along, assuredly on specified pitches, to the music in what has been the only aesthetic as well as technical advance on so-called Sprechstimme since SchŲnbergís pioneering Pierrot Lunaire of two decades earlier,
           indeed not just this aria which it represents the techniqueís technical if not aesthetic height but all the lines, the role entire of this bronchial, consumptive, starved-limbed mezzo is just laughs, in point of fact all the lines of all the Baronís women (except his wife, the Baroness), and there are many (women), are all just pitched laughs, Hof he didnít like to work too hard and so all this laughing, laughing, laughing, God I hate opera! and a strange as old Jewish doctor, no, a rabbi convincingly debuted by a man named Hans KIforget who heís out walking one day letís imagine to visit his ailing sister or to do a Shabbos gig in letís say Kasrilevke and is nearly run over, almost flattened by the Baronís carriage, his coach less a kocsi, which was the Hungarian source of our word - MADE IN KOCS - and more a Germanic Lauder at Schneidermannís insistence en route to some therapeutic seraglio which Hof he left rather unfleshed-out as he had to abandon revisions for an urgent appointment he had with death at Davos, premature and so it of course transpires that the Baron he - after of course not apologizing to the rabbi for the near-fatal near-accident, and only after letís say sexualizing the whip on the person of his own, Moorish, postillion - instead confides his little tiny impotence problem to the rabbi who in turn advises him to get a goat, yes, a goat and to put it in the room with him, to sleep just him and the goat in the baronial bedroom in the baronial bed until the advent of the, Jewish, month of Nisan, around Eastertime the rabbi explains, three months or so hence from the nearly vehicular homicide incident and then heíll be cured, and so the Baron he complies - like how canít he? - and orders in a goat from his stables, a goat raised, lovingly raised, a goat indeed the only friend of this poor stableboy who all day he just plays a flute (pantomimes playing a flute actually sounded in the pit by a piccolo, a normal flute, an alto flute and in a memorable 24-bar solo by a flutter-tongued bass flute, an instrument perfected just the year previous by Rudallo Carte & Company working on the BŲhm system whose patent-holder he was the premiere flautistís in-some-way-inlaw),
           anyway this poor as young fluteplaying stableboy who heís in love with the Duchess, the Baroness,
           as the Baroness is in love with him, the two have of course been carrying on and in open secret for years,
           and so you can already almost fill-in-the-blanks: the Baron he sleeps in his bed with the Goat, and because this is just-pre-WWII German (not to say displaced Weimarian, or just heldover Austro-Hungarian) Modernism, thereís a transference of a whole lot more than temperament going on here as a Baron and a Goat - played by Jew Hans KIforget who he also played the Rabbi - through gradual, subtle and for their time near-miraculous lighting fx. with of course a trifle heavyfisted musical suggestion thrown in (each to their own motives), wholesale exchange existences: the Baron he becomes the Goat and the Goat it becomes the Baron, the former Baron, the Goat, going back into the care of the Poor Farmhand or Stableboy who he marries the Baroness after the former Goat, now the present Baron, casts her off, away, and more than capable now of ahem performance he commences with a truly great, bang-up finale, indeed a finale to end all finales and cardiac-arrest all the censors, a real crowdpleaser this actlong scene of intense and unrestrained fornication:
           and so okay, Schneidermann he hated the libretto even after his own, hasty, revisions after the initial Berlin run but he made good money on it and, anyway, itís still X times more intelligent than The Magic Flute, all that Masonic mishegas which it was one of Schneidermannís favorite words,
           or Der Rosenkavalier, admit it, music by that great Nazi Richard Strauss who to make amends, ends meet at the end of his life which it was the end of the War he goes ahead and composes that paragon of total restraint, his late Oboe Concerto for an American G.I., John de Lancie of the Philadelphia Orchestra then occupying the Strauss estate at Garmisch-Partenkirchen and, again anyway, The Goat, curtain down after nearly 80 heckled-from-shock performances Schneidermann heíd conducted and directed himself, earned for its composer a not insignificant fame or is it notoriety? a name which is all that matters in the end, no integrity here though the score it was reported - by Schneidermann, by forgettable greater-Reich-musicologists - as destroyed, thankfully lost in the war,
           in that which had happened according to Schneidermann,
           if you took out all the words, the music it was exquisite, I remember from his playing and singing, nasaling to me of snippets and from memory one day up in my at least ducal penthouse at the Grand,
           or at least Schneidermann he once told me: purge the words and the music it speaks its own name, speaks to its time much more, much more deeply than did for instance the Rosenkavalier - 1911 its premier in Dresden, a city that was to be worthlessly exploded to 30 pieces of silver only a bit after the Old World it died in 1914 or 1918 take your pick with the War and the only opera that emerged, that escaped the worldís anus gaping letís say subito esophageal after that it was by Puccini if you didnít already know, would never have guessed, Signor Giacomoís never-finished turn-of-the-century and yet 1924 throwback creampuff Turandot, the one with that thrice-riddling Asian ice-princess like which exwife?
           with Ping, Pang and Pong doing verismo in trio in Peking, a work pretty much ensuring Nessun dorma for an audience like yourselves,
           a perennial mainstay playing probably tonight, right now just a hackney-horse-drawn-carriage ride Uptown as successfully as it did then in 1926 at its belated premiere once the composerís student I forget his last name Schneidermann he would have known had finished it (if you leave right now, you might still make it),
           the only work in that idiotís idiom that captured anyoneís - lack of- imagination after the big-B Birth of huge-M Modernism,
           and in our version, our adaptation, letís say that the tethered Baron whoís now a roped Goat he has to witness his Exfarmhand screw his Exwifeís brains out, just aria-braying his stained ivory keys like crazy as, or that the Farmhand he has the Goat, the ex-Baron, do his Exwife or at least try to while the Farmhand he prods them both and in every hole with a rusty pitchfork thatís surely just a prop:
           that was my idea, for an update, for a Goat Version 2.0, a revival, new production of the opera but Schneidermann being Schneidermann Schneidermann he said no and no and no again and again, refused to listen, couldnít, Schneidermann he disliked any input, indeed regretted the composition of this opera entire, his first and only and last opera, always disowned it, at every opportunity or rather itís that Schneidermann he never talked about it or more accurately never liked to, avoided mention of it, really, or else forgot about it altogether or said he did or really tried to (American whiskey, American matinee movies, American whiskey at the American matinee movies), denied any knowledge of its existence whatsoever was his method or lack of method, ignorance or else a deflection, attributed it to another Schneidermann, a similar young success whose promise was fortunately or not fulfilled by the War, the Second World one: death in the East, in one account Buchenwald in a freezing experiment, in another, Sobibor,
           Schneidermann to me: my cousin.
           Schneidermann to me: no relation.
           Schneidermann to me: actually, only the librettistís name it was Schneidermann, which was of course only a pseudonym....

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