Volume 3 / Chapter 97
As Um Ki Jun went into his undergraduate classes and master’s seminars, he carried the score with him and started asking around. However, everyone shook their heads saying that it was their first time seeing the score. There were a few who showed interest in the music, but he did not have any intention to discuss it with them. The important thing is to find the composer.
He looked for a week, but he could not find the source. Eventually, everyone except the professors he had not asked had shaken their heads saying they were seeing it for the first time.
Um Ki Jun decided to check the remaining possibility. He assumed that the song had already been released and someone had downloaded it off of the internet. It could be a song that is not yet known in Korea, a wasteland for contemporary music.
Um Ki Jun scanned the score again and sent it to Park Ji Kuk, a college classmate studying abroad in San Francisco. His classmate said that he was seeing it for the first time and was sure it is an unpublished song since he had gone to America to study contemporary music.
After sending the mail to his classmate, he did not get a response for a day. He thought that it was an emotion that only he had felt. It is like when not all people who see Picasso’s works of cubism are in awe.
Due to the time difference, a call at dawn told him that he had not felt it alone.
“Hey! Um Ki Jun!”
“What? Why all of a sudden?”
“Tell me honestly. Where did this song come from? You didn’t write it, did you?”
Park Jin Kuk’s voice of anger hit him hard.
“Lower your voice! I can hear well. So, you saw the e-mail?”
“Hurry up and just answer. Did you really write it?”
“I would have sent the sheet program file if I had written it. That was printed.”
“Then whose is this?”
“I sent it to you because I don’t know that. Look into it. You know it’s hard to find new works here. This is the first time you’re hearing it? It’s really unpublished?”
“Of course. If a work like this had been published, it would’ve already been a big deal. You really don’t know? Then where did it come from?”
Um Ki Jun went through how the score had come into his hands.
“Does that mean there’s a genius hidden in our school? No way.”
“You think that’s possible? The score I scanned was printed. Or it was downloaded and printed.”
There was no way a student who could write a song like this would not have stood out. He would have been revealed through the countless assignment pieces and reports.
“None of those old farts at the school would have written it… Where did this guy come from?”
“It seems great even to you, right?”
“No need to say it. This is a really novel take. I don’t know how to express it.”
“Exactly. There’s a big chance the person who wrote this doesn’t go to our school. Doesn’t it seem most likely that someone found this on the internet somewhere?”
“To write such an innovative song and just put on the internet? Then that means this person is nameless…..”
“Is Marco Giavelli still at your school? The principal conductor of the San Francisco Philharmonic.”
“Oh, right. That man. He doesn’t come out to the school. He completely retired.”
“Can you get in contact with him? Try showing it to him. Let’s see what he thinks of it.”
“Why do we need to check that. You can tell it’s a work of art just by looking at it.”
“Stop playing around. You don’t know this industry? Don’t you know it doesn’t matter if nameless people like us like it?”
A society where the people with authority make evaluations and where that is the only opinion that counts. If this music were to be assessed as a work of art by Maestro Marco Giavelli, who was once one of the best conductors, there would be no need to question it any longer.
“Alright, that would be better. And who knows? He might know who the composer is. Or it might be easy to find out who it is through his connections.”
“I’ll keep looking too, so call me right away if you find anything out.”
Um Ki Jun was still so excited after hanging up with Park Jin Kuk that he was no longer sleepy.
Park Jin Kuk used what little money he had to buy a box of high quality Cuban cigars, and went to Marco Giavelli’s mansion. When he was serving as professor, Park Jin Kuk had come face-to-face with him nearly everyday, but it had become rare since he retired.
He prepared the cigars that Marco Giavelli likes because he felt sorry to go looking for him with a favor instead of just visiting.
Marco Giavelli greeted his former student with a friendliness that made it feel as though they had seen each other the day before, and laughed when Park Jin Hyuk gave him the cigars.
“You still remember what I like?”
“I’m sorry, I should have come to visit more often.”
“It’s okay. When you get old, there are more times when it becomes bothersome for visitors to come. All you have to do is occasionally check on me to make sure I’m still alive. Ho ho.”
After chatting for a bit, Park Jin Kuk slowly handed the score over to him.
“Maestro, can you take a look at this?”
“What is this? Did you compose this?”
“No. I would like to hear what you think about it once you take a look.”
Marco Giavelli lit a cigar and after taking a deep puff, he relished the fragrance and started to read the score.
Before he had even turned the first page, the cigar was getting to its end in the ashtray. He had forgotten he lit a cigar because he could not take his eyes off of the score.
Even the old man called a maestro was no different from Um Ki Jun or Park Jin Kuk. He sighed deeply and put the score down multiple times, and put the score down after almost an hour.
“What do you think? Maestro, is this a song you know?”
Park Jin Kuk saw that he had put the score down and spoke carefully.
“This… Who wrote this kind of song…..”
Maestro Giavelli’s stammering indicated that it was indeed his first time seeing the song.
“I don’t know either. It came into my hands by chance. We are looking for the composer now.”
Marco Giavelli suddenly stood up from his chair and poured two glasses of wine from his refrigerator.
“Have a drink. I must have one because my hands are shaking so much.”
Park Jin Kuk took the glass and felt delighted inside. He had not seen it wrong. This work is a masterpiece.
“Maestro, I would like to hear your honest assessment of this piece.”
“But why do you only have the 1st score? Is it incomplete?”
“We are checking that as well. I just have the score by chance.”
“I didn’t know I would get to see such a masterpiece before I die.”
The first assessment is ‘masterpiece’. This is praise beyond expectations.
“This song is… hm… How should I say it? Right. Should I say it opened a new door in music?”
“A new door?”
“Yes. In the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras, music was a tool to deliver a beautiful emotion to the listener. As we came to the present time, it gained a role in delivering that emotion. Loneliness, sadness. Anger. Happiness, et cetera. It also throws philosophical messages as well.”
Marco took a sip of his wine.
“But this song is showing that now, music can relay senses.”
“You say senses?”
“Yes. This song is relaying physical pain. Not the emotion of pain, but the pain itself.”
When we watch a movie with a scene where someone is getting beat up or being tortured, our bodies flinch. We are imagining that pain. Contemporary music exists to transmit that imagination.
To follow the assessment, this music has the power to allow for an indirect experience.
“Didn’t you have a hard time looking at this score?”
“It was hard. It’s just a 10-minute song, but it took an hour to read through all of it. It was painful to keep turning the pages.”
“That’s it right there. With just the music, you have the thought that someone is hitting you – no. No it’s not a thought. No, it’s at the level where your brain sends the signal that you are being beaten. That’s what I mean when I say it relays senses.”
Marco Giavelli lit the cigar again and closed his eyes to enjoy it without speaking.
Park Jin Kuk quietly waited to see what else he would say, and heard something unexpected.
“Hm… What a waste.”
“Excuse me? What are you saying is a waste…..?”
“I was wondering if it would be possible to hear this song in real life.”
“Don’t worry about it, maestro. We’re going to find the composer and we’ll get the rest of the scores.”
The maestro waved his hand at Park Jin Kuk’s words.
“That’s not what I meant. I was saying that it might be impossible to perform this song.”
That is when Park Jin Kuk understood what he meant when he said that he might not be able to hear the song.
“Who would perform this? What orchestra can perform this? Will the members and conductor be able to handle the pain they have to experience while they perform? It’s already this difficult to imagine it while reading the score. And that’s just the 1st score. But until the 4th? I don’t think I’d be able to do it.”
Marco Giavelli shook his head.
“Say that someone could perform it. How many audiences do you think there will be for this kind of music?”
Park Jin Kuk drank his wine in one gulp, but his frustration did not go away. He had not considered the audience.
“For the people who are able to understand the music, it’ll be too hard for them to listen to it. For the people who can’t understand, it’ll just be noise. There are only a few people who can listen to this. Is there a planner who would put this on stage?”
It is a masterpiece, but a performance may be impossible. Who is the person who created this kind of dilemma?
“Even so, I want to meet this composer no matter what. Is it okay for me to show this score to my friends? There could be someone who knows whose work this is.”
“Of course. That’s actually what I wanted to ask of you.”
Park Jin Kuk was satisfied with hearing Maestro Giavelli’s evaluation, but was kept repeating his gratefulness that he would be willing to help in the search for the composer.
As soon as Park Jin Kuk came out of Marco Giavelli’s home, he called Um Ki Jun to tell him what happened.
“Ki Jun, we were right. The Maestro didn’t hold back on compliments. He liked it more than we did.”
“Of course. It’s a work of art in anyone’s eyes. Except to the old farts at our school.”
The two men relaxed after confirming the work’s value. It was up to here. Now they just have the difficult job of finding the person who made the song.
“Ki Jun, try checking with the professors too.”
“Are you stupid? You’re saying that because you don’t know? I’m dead the day I bring up the word ‘modernism’.”
“Just ask them slightly. Don’t show them the score.”