Volume 3 / Chapter 104
[TN: This is the first bonus chapter 😉 enjoy]
Is there a musician who thought of 100 different ways to try to better express Beethoven’s song? When it is Beethoven?
“Jun, can you tell us what methods you’ve thought of?”
Professor Hirani looked at Jun Hyuk with eyes full of curiosity and everyone in the classroom directed their attention to his mouth. What kind of response would he give this time? They were now full of anticipation because he kept giving unexpected answers.
“It’s a bit difficult to respond in words. English is hard and I don’t know the terms… It’s even hard to explain.”
Jun Hyuk suddenly stood up and walked toward the piano sitting in the classroom.
“I’ll try to play it instead.”
Jun Hyuk began to play the piano as he added a brief explanation for each rendition.
“This is the exposition when there isn’t a development.”
“This is with multiple melodies instead of one.”
“I don’t know the terms for this one. I’ll just play it.”
Dozens of arrangements of Beethoven’s sonata flowed from Jun Hyuk’s fingertips. After focusing on performing for a while, Jun Hyuk stood up from the chair.
“What do you think? Isn’t Beethoven’s original the best?”
That was when several students began to whisper to each other. The rumor that there was a genius from Korea. They had figured out who the object of those rumors was.
It was a great adventure to arrange classics. It was normal to hear that it was a desecration to the original.
That was why legendary Leonard Bernstein of the New York Philharmonic defined classic as such: ‘Classic does not mean that it is an old song, but a song that is played strictly following the composer’s score.’
All that was done was arranging a violin song to the piano or an opera to a piano song. It was also okay to change a symphony into a piano song because it was a way to listen to the complete song, however inferior.
But to arrange a piano song into another piano song? With Beethoven? Everyone would agree that was crazy and unimaginable. However, this young Asian kid confidently played different versions of Beethoven’s piano sonata in the middle of class. On top of that, it was with the reason that he had thought of different methods of expression.
More surprising was that Jun Hyuk’s versions were so good that they did not insult Beethoven.
From this day on, Jun Hyuk brushed off his awkwardness and fear regarding classes and lectures. He aggressively asked the professor questions and actively participated in debates. Once he started discussing his thoughts on music, he did not know how to stop so he was prone to flying through class time while chatting.
Eventually, Professor Hirani had to arrange for time to speak with Jun Hyuk separately after class to reduce the time spent on basic questions.
Lectures only lasted for 4 hours a day and the professors and students formed teams with the remainder of the time. The school’s specialty was performing without time restraints.
Jun Hyuk needed to become a team member because of the school’s tradition for students to perform as they learn. The music teams were not what people think of as regular clubs. They had to practice in concert as if they are professionals and were evaluated in a monthly recital.
More than 25% of American orchestra members were alumni of Clayton because the students performed under this real-life pressure for 4 years.
Danny took Jun Hyuk by the hand and dragged him to the practice room.
“Jun, I’m in a quartet and the other members keep pestering me because they want to try performing with you. You don’t have a team yet, right?”
There were 3 students waiting for Jun Hyuk in the practice room. 1st and 2nd violin. Viola. Cello. If a piano was added to this string quartet, they would become a piano quintet.
“I have my special classes. You know it’ll be hard to match practice times, right? If you’re okay with that, then I’m just grateful to be on a team.”
“We already decided to make the times work no matter what. Then you’re on our team from now on.”
All of the members welcomed Jun Hyuk and while he shook each person’s hand, Coline Svatos on the cello even flashed a large smile and squeezed his hand tightly.
“Alright then. Shouldn’t we test to see if an exquisite ensemble comes out now that we have a new member?”
Everyone cheered to Coline’s words and dragged Jun Hyuk out. He had high expectations because they said it was a harmony, but their first undertaking was alcohol, not music. They made a round through a shabby pub, bar and even a strip club before going back to the dorms, and Jun Hyuk was not able to get up until the afternoon the next day.
When Jun Hyuk finished the 1st real ensemble with his team, his first thought was that he had done well to come study abroad. These kids were armed with talent that was incomparable to the members of Hwang Suk Min’s Fine Philharmonic.
There was no need for Jun Hyuk to match the others’ levels because they had all been called geniuses in their respective motherlands. When Jun Hyuk’s piano exploded occasionally, everyone did get surprised, but they were prepared to follow along with whatever it took and they all looked to enjoy it even if it was difficult. They were beasts who yelled ‘Try again!’ if it were not the best performance.
Being surrounded by people who were not satisfied with themselves, he realized what Yoon Kwang Hun had really meant.
His frustration disappeared and he learned of a synergy that rises when flashes of talent come together. Danny was a far more extraordinary violinist than Jun Hyuk had expected, and there would be no problem for 3rd year Coline to go on stage as a cello soloist.
Rather than practicing existing string quartet songs, they accepted Jun Hyuk’s self-composed songs without hesitation. When they participated in arranging the songs, they offered so many new ideas that Jun Hyuk was often surprised.
Performing with these students grew more and more fun everyday over his lectures and special classes. They had gained so much interest in the school that when Jun Hyuk’s piano quintet went on stage, there was not a single empty seat in the audience.
The professors who always watched new attempts with joy became engrossed in Jun Hyuk’s arrangements.
Piano major Professor Randall Poster in particular could not understand why Jun Hyuk had not chosen to listen to the piano lectures. The piano did not stand out in Jun Hyuk’s quintet, but it was undoubtedly a pillar of the team. It presented the most stable performance.
He had been happy beyond expression after hearing the piano performance during the application period because he had met an outstanding pianist. After fighting with Professor Lenny Greenfield over taking him in, he had become in charge but Jun Hyuk himself rejected piano lessons.
He had personally gone to meet Jun Hyuk several times to convince him to take lessons to go out for a competition, but Jun Hyuk just said that he was not interested in going out for competitions. The biannual Long Thibaud Competition was impossible because it opened in November this year. However, Professor Poster was still aiming for the next competition because he thought that Jun Hyuk would be ready enough if he prepared for 2 years.