I suspect many of you have been there.
You know who you are.
When that piece of music you really adored and on which you began earnest work gradually transforms—weeks or months down the road—into the sound of fingernails scraping down a chalkboard.
Because dysfunctional relationships are not limited only to humans or to animal predators in the wild. Oh, no—I am here to tell you that dysfunctionality and eternal star-crossedness in relationships between the musician and the music can be quite common. It can depend on the piece of music, how much caffeine has or has not been consumed, how much sleep the musician has had, under what fortunate (or unfortunate) circumstances the piece was last performed or heard, how many other things in a musician’s life have been put on indefinite hold for this *&^% music, and how much single-minded devotion has been given to said piece for days, weeks, years, or even decades.
In some cases, the unrequited love can lead to permanent personality disorders (have you ever been to specialty music festivals—early music, rock, or Romantic-era festivals—and observed the humanity present? I rest my case.)
But perhaps the love isn’t unrequited after all: the piece and the musician(s) are a hand-in-glove fit. However, their publicly-torrid love affair is destined never to be because due to family demands, day job requirements, career choices, physical health, and financial means, the musician can never have a future practicing, becoming, and performing this piece that is the love of their life.
So the musician and the piece sneak away in the dead of night in order to be together. (This way no one will ever know or judge the sour notes, the missed rhythms, the era-inappropriate ornamentation choices, the lack of legato, the inconsistent internal tempi, and so on that would occur should the unpracticed pair meet in public.). Indeed, their affair is carried on in profound secrecy—their spouses, their bosses, indeed everyone else in their lives—will never know or guess the all-encompassing connection between the music and the musician.
Outwardly all is well with their lives.
But inwardly, the single-minded fixation on their musical mistress never lets up for a moment. In flashes of weakness and of the full moon, in moments when their Dearly Beloved unexpectedly plays on the rock radio channel or the classical station, the musician desperately hangs on…to the knowledge that they only have to make it through this moment. Just one moment at a time…
Because after all, they’ll always have Baroque Bach Mountain.