Nielsen's 4th Symphony: Life Goes On
There will, always, be dark times. Times which test our resolve and our humanity, times which sometimes can't be explained, only experienced. Sometimes you might wonder how to get through times like these.
Nielsen's Fourth Symphony (titled 'The Inextinguishable') shows us the resolve of humanity, of life. Composed during the first world war, this piece was intended not to tell a story as such, but to show the intricacies, connections and utter resilience shown by human life. There is a distress to it yes, but there is also a relentlessness and eventually a triumph about it. This piece, I think, shows us something - it tells us that we are connected and because of that, life always, in some form or another, goes on.
The tumultuous first movement blends unity with complex interwoven melodies, before surprising us with beautiful moments, almost as if to remind us that somewhere among the chaos we can find something beautiful. This idea pervades the second movement, I think, The third movement, to me, depicts quite a lot of emotional complexity including deep distress and damage, but also unity within that as it reaches its climax. The fourth movement really brings forward the idea of conflict, with two timpani parts almost battling across the stage, but ending in something altogether triumphant. The message is clear - we got through it, and we will do again.
There is more going on in the world than what's just happening on my doorstep - whether it's on a large or personal scale. But, at the forefront of my mind this week is the terrible attack in Manchester. I was struck by the unity displayed after the event both immediately in terms of people offering help and looking out for one another, but also in the following days at the vigil and amongst communities. To be brought together by something so terrible is something very unique, special and very human. It is this reaction of togetherness that truly makes us, and the relationships that we have with each other, inextinguishable.