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August 18, 2007

On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.

That’s what Johannes Brahms, in a letter to Clara Schumann, said about the ciaconna, i.e. chaconne.

I first bought a CD box set of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo played by Nathan Milstein (1973 DG stereo) when I was still a college student and just started to listen classical music not long ago. A violin solo work may be a difficult piece for a newbie, but even a newbie would get thrilled by the 15-min chaconne from Partita No. 2. It’s arguably the greatest piece of music ever written for solo strings, in which a single theme changes through 29 variations that represents a pinnacle of artistry and expression for violin.

Whenever I listen to the chaconne, I still get goosebumps from the opening theme. It seems that the music releases all the suppressed emotions inside me. I could be full of excitement, in awe. But when I am sad, I could feel exposed and vulnerable.

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