June 4th, 2011 by Anna
One of the soul’s great tragedies is to execute a work and then realize, once it’s finished, that it’s not any good. The tragedy is especially great when one realizes that the work’s execution is the best one could have done. But to perform a concert, knowing beforehand that it’s bound to be flawed and imperfect; to hear while playing it that it’s flawed and imperfect – this is the height of spiritual torture and humiliation. Not only I’m dissatisfied with my playing now, I also know that I’ll be dissatisfied with my playing in the future. I know it philosophically and in my flesh, through a hazy, dwindling foreglimpse.
So why do I keep playing? Because I still haven’t learned to practice completely the renunciation that I preach. I haven’t been able to give up my inclination to music. I have to play, as if I were carrying out a punishment. And the greatest punishment is to know that whatever and however I play will be futile, flawed and uncertain.
I played my first concerts when I was still a child. Though dreadful, they seemed perfect to me. I’ll never again be able to have the illusory pleasure of producing perfect work. The way I play today is much better. It’s even better than how some other pianists play. But it’s infinitely inferior to how I for some reason feel I could – or perhaps should – play. I weep over those first dreadful concerts as over a dead child, a last hope that has vanished.