The Miraculous The Miraculous: Music
33. 1841, Dijon; 1908, Paris, 1908
While waiting for his first book to appear, an impoverished 34-year-old poet succumbs to tuberculosis. When, a year and a half later, the volume is finally published it sells only 20 copies. To make matters worse the text is bristling with errors, most of which will not be corrected for nearly a century. Nonetheless, the book—a sequence of extravagant prose poems inspired by the art of Rembrandt and Jacques Callot—influences nearly all the significant poets who follow. It also inspires a composer who bases a trio of pieces for piano on three of the poems. His aim, especially with the third piece, is to write something that will be so complex, so technically challenging to perform, that it will become the most difficult composition for piano in the world. He succeeds: for a more than a century, only the bravest, most proficient, most agile virtuosi will tackle the piece.
(Aloysius Bertrand, Maurice Ravel)