Like the faint sound of thunder, rumbling in the distance, then gathering in volume
until, with a great roar, it all comes crashing down, an avalanche of Europe’s concert halls,
like the 7.4 cubic kilometre chunk of the Jakobshavn glacier, calving into the sea below:
the red and Alaska yellow cedar stages and smoked birch parquet floors, a reverberating crack,
splintering on the rocks below, seals clapping, barking CHUM CHUM, CHUM CHUM:
the balconies and loggias, walls panelled in vertical grain, plaster and gypsum board,
cherry wood acoustic panels, the Cologne Gürzenich, the Festspielhaus and Mozarteum,
the Teatro della Pergola, the Graf-Zeppelin-Haus, the Grosser Musikvereinssaal,
crashing and splintering on the rocks below, then sliding into the sea;
the gilt of the Palais Garnier with its Chagall ceiling, the staircases of the Staatsoper,
the neo-classical façades and baroque rotundas, the Mariinsky, Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu
splintering on the rocks below and crashing into the sea. CHUM CHUM, CHUM CHUM, they bark.

A further rumbling and here they come, a second avalanche of chamber ensembles and string quartets:
There’s Suk, Dvořák’s son-in-law,
                                                                  arms and legs akimbo, bow in his right hand, Strad in his left,
                           like the ‘falling man’ of the Twin Towers,
                                                                                                  in what seems like slow-motion,
                      falling into the maw of nothingness: the dichroistic flames of the violin
                                           turning from gold to dark red as he falls
                                                                                                                          into echoless space. And on his heels:
                                                             Oistrakh, then Marsick and Carl Flesch,
                                                                                     the old Euro-Men in their monkey suits
and high, starched collars,
                              the fistula of a rotten, paternalistic culture, ‘an old bitch gone in the teeth’,
                                                                                                   burst and spewing pus:
                                                        plates    ribs    necks    and    scrolls,
                                                                                                           a rain of spruce bellies, maple backs
                                                                  black-dyed pear purls, white poplar sandwiched between,
                   the fittings, pegs, tail pieces,
                                                                            ebony, rosewood, Oregon mahogany,
                                seasoned for ten years.
                                       the Lerner, Pro Arte, Budapest and Busch,
                                                                                        the Ysaÿe, the Kolisch, Prague and Bohemian:
                        Auer, Yankelevich, Yampolsky,
                                            snow on the Neva, the clank of steam pipes in the recital hall
                                                                (spare me, please, this sentimental tosh),
                            stifling, bombastic, hothouse scum,
                                                                                                       temperamental, over-rehearsed neurotics,
              lackeys, degenerates, playthings of the haut bourgeois
                                                Mao would have known what to do with them …
      CHUM CHUM, CHUM CHUM, they bark
                                                             besides themselves, raucous with bloody-eyed glee …

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