I don't write much on this blog anymore; when I do it tends to be about impersonal matters. Israel, books, stuff. This post is very personal, but it's important enough for to put somewhere.
Earlier today I stumbled upon a Youtube link to Henryk Gorecki's Symphony nr. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs).
It is overpowering. Overwhelming.
While I think I've encountered parts of it in the past, this was the first time I ever listened to it. Now that I'm consciously aware of it, if it's ever played at a Jerusalem theater I won't go. Who could sit in a hall full of people and publicly listen to such a piece of music? The danger of losing emotional control in the presence of all those strangers would be too great.
So I did a spot of googling, and came upon this website. And on the website I found this picture:
That was half a century ago, but childhood rumours are generally more powerful and rooted than much of what we pick up later.
Yet listening to that soul-arresting music, looking at the Pole sitting in his room full of Catholicism was profoundly comforting. There's a connection between his religion and his soul and his ability to create music that touches my soul. In a world awash in rampant soulless secularism, arrogant ignorance, rabid relativism and all-conquering vacuity, here's a man who sat under a wall of crucifixes and achieved transcendent beauty which touches eternity.
Update: It turns out that Gorecki explicitly tied his symphony to the Polish history of the 20th century in general, but also to Auschwitz in particular; and that the three sorrowful songs are between a mother and her son and daughter, perishing in the maelstrom. Here's a recording of the symphony interspersed with takes of Gorecki himself, wearing a heavy homey sweater.