Chopin and I have been having a little discussion these past few months. He tells me what to do and I tell him that I am trying very hard, but what he writes is beyond my grasp. Sometimes I address him rather sharply. Some days I just close up the piano and do something else.
I know I’ll never play this nocturne like Daniel Barenboim, but I think I ought to be able to play it through. It’s a question of having enough force of will to push through the difficulties, keep at it, until the fingers are doing what they ought to be doing. So there I was, last week, pushing through measure by tortured measure, not having too much fun but making a tiny amount of progress. When all of a sudden I happened upon this most magical passage, breathtakingly beautiful at the end of the fourth page. I played it through, and then I played it again. And I thought to myself, ah, Mr. Chopin, you sly silver-tongued creature — you had this in store for me all that time, and didn’t let me know!
And so it is a metaphor for my life right now, in the midst of hardship and illness and grief, there comes a moment of beauty.