The horns erupted, the strings cut the blast of winter last Friday night, at a small-town concert in suburban New Jersey.
A Russian orchestra was in town, and they were playing one of the cultural milestones of the 19th century: Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” With each movement, fictional canvases that exist only in the ether leapt to life.
The revered composer wrote the electric half-hour of music in tribute to his friend, a painter who had died before his time.
And my heart leapt with the music, too. I had lost a friend five years before, that very night, on what would have been his 28th birthday. So each movement of these paintings, existing only in chords and notes and soul, echoed through the small hall – and each seemed to be meant for me. And for what we all had lost in the passage of years.
This, I thought, is what Art is meant to do. To salve your wounds – to make feelings human once again.