Volume 5 / Chapter 180
[TN: This is 2 of 8!]
Not a single thing Yoon Kwang Hun said was wrong.
President Stern’s call after 10 days had passed told him that they had created a plan and were currently working on it.
“Jun, the score you sent me. Can you send the original or make up another copy?”
“Of the score?”
“Yeah. Do you need to modify it anymore?”
“No. It’s complete.”
“Then send it right away. We’ll submit it to the Queen Elisabeth Competition.”
When Isaac Stern told him the conclusion, Jun Hyuk was taken aback.
“Excuse me? Isaac… I was just asking what you thought of submitting it, not that we need to.”
“But I think it’s a good idea to submit it.”
“Yeah. There’s a time for everything. Competitions are a privilege for the young. Winning with concrete numbers against a lot of competitors isn’t something you can do when you’re older. Only because of useless pride. Ha ha.”
Jun Hyuk gained courage from Isaac Stern’s vigorous laughter and told him the real goal.
“Uh, Isaac. More than the competition or winning, I’d like to conduct with the piano and violin soloists.”
“Really? Then you really must win. Fine. I’ll make you into a winner.”
He will make him into a winner? It is a surprising thought beyond confidence.
“What? You’ll make me? Is that what a competition is? Does that mean it’s a show where a winner isn’t chosen, but where it’s possible to make a winner?”
Stern laughed again at Jun Hyuk’s surprised tone.
“Ha ha. Jun, don’t misunderstand me. This piece is certainly the winner. But there will be a lot of controversy. I’m going to block any circumstances where that controversy might prevent you from winning. I mean that I’m going to make it a fair competition that judges based on the works alone.”
“There will be controversy?”
“What? You didn’t think about that while you were making the song?”
He does not even know what his own song might mean. Stern was more surprised by this.
“No. I just thought it’d be fun.”
“Ha ha. Well this really is fun. I did predict that there would be a lot of cases like this if I were with you. That case came too quickly.”
“Isaac. Why will this song become a controversy?”
“Beethoven is the only one in history called an evil. Furthermore, his Symphony No. 9 has been put in the UNESCO World Register. It’s play on the most important day in each country, and is the most worshipped piece. But isn’t your song a challenge thrown at Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9? It’s a miscalculation to think that it won’t become a controversy.”
Isaac Stern’s long explanation made Jun Hyuk realize that this is how people could view his song.
“I say let’s see what happens. Let’s see how the judges of Queen Elisabeth and the world will accept this fearless challenge. It’s thrilling just thinking about it.”
President Stern was still laughing when he hung up the phone with a stunned Jun Hyuk who could not speak.
When he first opened the score that came via e-mail, his eyes and ears were disbelieving. When he finished the 1st movement, it felt like he had just gotten off of a rollercoaster. He was dizzy.
There had not been a moment for relaxation. The music pushed forward so much that 18 minutes felt like a few seconds.
When the 2nd movement unfolded and the violin and piano suddenly jumped out, it was shocking. No one could imagine that a symphony would transform into a concerto. Destruction of the form was not all.
The piano and violin were like a captain that needs to get through the rough ocean of the orchestra by overcoming the rapidly changing melody and sprinting for 12 minutes.
As soon as the thick bass and vocal tenor started, it brought up Beethoven’s choral symphony. The orchestra, vocal, piano, and violin blended in harmony and when he closed the score as it ended the last movement in exaltation, he could understand the piece’s intent.
Isaac Stern went back to the 1st movement to start checking everything one by one.
18 minutes, 12 minutes, 19 minutes, 25 minutes. 4 movements combined. It is like the choral symphony of Beethoven that the Berlin Philharmonic’s Furtwangler conducted. He had run for this long time without breathing, and the result is a challenge!
Isaac Stern could not decide how to assess this piece. It is too radical of a challenge thrown at Beethoven.
There is too much transition in this song that goes over an hour, making it hard to breathe. The 2nd movement that releases the anxiety that appears in normal sonata forms, does not exist.
Stern has led a management agency for musicians well until now because of his ability to listen to a piece just once and lay down an assessment. Isaac Stern needed to know the true worth behind this song he was reserving judgment from.
He had to call a meeting with the top staff of Stern Corporation. They are people with discernment and insight to find the essence of excellent music.
8 staff members sat on the sofa in President Stern’s office and looked over the score for over 2 hours before closing it. Their expressions were not very different from that of President Stern when he first saw this piece. Then a long silence began.
“I’m sure this was enough time to enjoy the aftertaste? Everyone, snap out of it.”
Isaac Stern woke up each person while they were lost in their thoughts.
“This Jun. He really is impressive.”
“Right? I can’t imagine how he wrote such a song.”
“More than that, my jaw dropped when I first saw the broad mindedness of this song. How could he think of fighting in the same ring as Beethoven? Isn’t this him asking us to compare his choral symphony with this piece?”
The staff’s enjoyment of the song was not different from Isaac Stern’s. They had all loved the song for 200 years, but no musician had ever tried to challenge it.
“But don’t you think he’s plenty qualified to go in the ring?”
“Exactly. He’s reckless.”
“What do you think? How do you think the world will accept this incredible challenge that Jun Hyuk is throwing out there?”
“No one will be able to believe it. Who would believe that it’s Beethoven, and none other than the choral symphony?”
“Isn’t the challenge sitting right in front of you? What can’t you believe?”
“Isaac. You know that’s not what I mean….”
“Forget it. Everyone, say your conclusions first. Who do you think will get the champion belt? Is it Beethoven who has held the throne for 200 years? Or 20 year old Jun?”
Jun Hyuk’s challenge is reckless, but Stern’s straightforward question is also reckless. Even if Jun Hyuk’s song is better, how could they admit Beethoven’s defeat?
However, it is a question from a boss who pays them a hefty salary. And it is a difficult boss who hates ambiguous answers.
The 8 staff members praised the piece first. But the conclusion is that Jun Hyuk loses. 5 of the staff were of the same thought as Isaac Stern. They voted in Beethoven’s favor because it is so fast and there are so many changes that there is not a single moment to take a breath.
The interesting aspect is the evaluation of the remaining 3 people. The con of Jun Hyuk’s piece that had made the other 5 people raise their hands for Beethoven. They rather feel a catharsis from the speed and changes. It is not a disadvantage, but the device that will allow it to win Beethoven.
“Is that so? I also felt uncomfortable with how rapid the changes are… but it is captivating to some people. Well that’s interesting too.”
Silence fell again. They need to assess the grounds for this precisely. People who enjoy art think about it and analyze it constantly after enjoying it. The person who transcends from this thought and analysis is a critic. Stern Corporation needs to have precise praise or criticism from these critics, and they need to have the evidence to refute this criticism.
It is a management agency’s duty to prevent its artists’ unnecessary flaws.
The person to break the silence in President Stern’s office was a staff member sitting in the back. He is young, but he already looks to be in his mid thirties.
“Isaac. That’s because of age.”
Everyone’s attentions turned toward the young staff member who brought up age out of nowhere.