Saturday, October 24, 2009

Montauk Is A Muse

Dr. Robert Stern is a musician to the marrow of his bones. His ears and whatever mechanisms makes music in the brain are super-attuned inside his head, a head you can imagine fairly closely if you think about a tall, curly bearded Ionian god with a kindly face and oceanic eyes.

Bob is a fiddler and the old fiddle seems small in his long, large hands. Before his eyes blurred on him a few years ago, he was a dental surgeon whose specialty was putting very badly smashed faces back together. Before that he was a longhaired West Coast rock star who had so many women he didn’t know what to do. Before that he was a good student and a pain-in-the-ass debater who found a mistake and dwelled and dwelled and dwelled on it. .

Bob can no longer demonstrate his artistry, dexterity and under-control nerves on some lucky soul’s broken jaw and cheekbones, but he can still sustain a violin note longer, and purer, than all but a handful of world class violinists.

He has stored 6,500 pieces of music on his Apple and he busily downloads new items every day. He can hum every note in most of those songs by heart. He composes in his head with his eyes closed and he visibly vibrates to every imaginary pluck or puff.

The idea of a Montauk concerto has come into Bob’s head because, for a whole cartload of reasons, Bob has never felt more free or more in harmony with other plant and mammalian life, not even in California.

With his eyes closed he murmurs to himself: “I see Montauk as the center of a spherical universe suspended in the middle between a dark and daylight sky, with a universe of bright stars in blackness and a diamond ocean from horizon to horizon in an amazingly straight line and there is noble and sentimental and funny music that wells up everywhere.”

He goes to his Apple and very deftly types out a few notes. Suddenly the incredible little Bose speakers sing out the beginnings of a Montauk concerto with piano and violin that vividly describes the awe, hope and gratitude one feels when witnessing a Montauk sunrise. Bob and a pianist friend recorded the piece a few months earlier in Bob’s secret treasure sound studio that is snugged into the basement of his house. Musicians who know say that there is no equally good sound studio in private hands within 3,000 miles.

After being plied with exquisite food and psychotherapeutic drugs, Dr. Stern has agreed modestly to “mess around” with and compose and mix his music on-line, in a narrative and interactive way so that people who tune in can learn and be inspired.

“Montauk is a muse,” Bob says. “Every artist needs a muse.”

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to your joining us at our Maundy Thursday service this week at First Presbyterian Church!