Friday, March 13, 2009
The Broken String
Grace Stuhlman's poem "The Broken String" tells a simple story with a simple point that feels central to my life. The great violinist Yitzak Perlman walks on stage to perform with a small ensemble. Early in the piece, one of his violin strings breaks. He does not stop. He does not leave the stage for another string. He plays on. Afterward, he says, "It's what you do." You play with the strings you have. Stuhlman elaborates that you don't just play the score. You go beyond the score, playing soul over below and within the score -- and when you lack the strings even to play the score, you play on with the strings you have left.