Jon Leifs

A while ago I heard Jon Leifs´ „Geysir“ at the Konzert am Vormittag on the radio. I was initially struck by it and I liked it. Most art, and notably most music, from most composers, is insipid and not completely true. Leifs´ music however is true, it is real, and it is in no way insipid. He originated his own peculiar musical language, his own peculiar style, and it approaches you as something that is completely natural, an expression of nature itself. Few artists are able to develop their own peculiar language. However, whenever someone does, it does not actually strike you as a „composition“, but as something that is completely natural, making forget the huge intellectual and personal effort that lead to such a result. It is as if nature´s boys and girls finally managed to find their way home.

Thereafter, I went to my favorite classic record dealer, Gramola am Graben, to buy some material by Jon. There was only one CD in stock (with the Saga Symphony), the other one, containing „Geysir“, I had to order. The Gramola guy told me that it´d rarely ever happen that someone asks for a record with the compositions of Leifs. The same thing he told me years ago when I wanted to buy records with stuff by Scelsi. Also Scelsi is a transcendent genius who is completely natural, and real. And also Galina Ustvolskaya is of this kind. yukata2

At that day I also bought a Yukata at a hipsteresque fashion store in Vienna because two days before I saw a woman with a Yukata who struck me, and told me about from where she bought it. At the fashion store I was told that unfortunately they do not have much else somehow more „eccentric“ and idiosyncratic for men, because men don´t use to buy such things (although the situation is said to be a bit better at their outlet in Berlin). Same old story. I am used to it. I do not buy clothes like the Yukata to look cool, and most of the time I run around wearing casual clothes. I buy them because they are beautiful and it is simply natural to wear them. It is natural beauty, and they give an idea of how more beauty can be brought into this world. People then tell me on the streets how cool I look with those garments. But strangely, they never seem to come to the idea that they could wear such stuff themselves.

We are living in a free, independent, individualistic age. Hail the new age.

I was reading that despite the initial, apparent natural beauty and the striking profoundness of artistry of his music, Jon Leifs had a difficult life and was not understood, respectively rejected by most people. He was born in 1899 and died in 1968 due to cancer. His last composition Hughreysting („Consolationn“) was meant to be his last salute to humanity; in the eyes of Leifs the purpose of art was to console man. In Hughreysting you again seem to have nature exposing itself, directly, without intermediary. You have the flow of being, of existence, of Werden und Vergehen, the hopefulness, the tragic, the elegy transcended into tenderness, at the end a fleeting, but tender and upright memory created by the bright violas as the music dies out. I was having a conversation with the record dealer at Gramola, myself wondering why there is so little interest in music by true and apparent geniuses like Scelsi or Leifs. In Vienna alone there must be thousands or at least hundreds of people receptive for such things. There has been a Scelsi fan page on Facebook with not even 4000 Likes which eventually got deleted, and there is a Wikipedia page on Facebook for Jon Leifs with 263 Likes as well as a Wikipedia page on Facebook for Galina Ustvolskaya with 600 Likes and a fan page with 277 Likes. There is also a group on Facebook named Pretentious Classical Music Elitists with close to 8000 members. When I post music by Scelsi, Ligeti or Grinblat I, on average, get 2 Likes. When I post my writings about Scelsi and Ustvolskaya, I never get any Likes from the Pretentious Elitists. – However, the Gramola guy told me it is part of a more general phenomenon: 15 years ago there was more interest not only in Scelsi and Leifs but in modern classical music in general. So I asked him what people are interested in now. Kommerz, he said (indicating that the interest in the more deviant forms of art has never been genuine and rooted in itself at any time).

HAHAHAHAHA! – We´re living in a ghost world! Which is frighteningly empty! People have no solid, natural access to what is natural and to the eternal categories that reflect true quality! The genius is real, because the genius is a direct expression of nature, communicating with other geniuses across space and across time, across the Continuum. As a conscious agent of nature and nature´s productivity, the genius initiates and creates culture. Culture is then brought down by the priests, the technocrats and the scientists to the level of civilisation. Civilisation is then brought down by the politicians to the level of the government and of the state, and by the businesspeople to the level of commerce. Commerce, per se, is innocent. It reflects the half-conscious realm of the human ego. The human ego strives to realign with nature, in multiple ways, some better and of higher quality, some worse and of lower quality. The striving of man should be to try to to ensure the reproduction of society at a higher level in a world headed for entropy.

That is the order of things.