Guy Gallo-On Playing the Habeneck Strad

Posted on May 16th, 2012 by

On Playing the Habeneck Strad

 by Guy Gallo

I was not prepared

I expected terror —

Lineage bearing down —

To cramp my hand.


Yes, I dropped it over and over

For a second, imagined splinters

About my feet. I didn’t clutch.

It wouldn’t let me.


Then it was there, lodged

On collarbone, and so light

As if Berlioz’ ghost had taken

Some fraction of the weight.


How long, I wondered,

Since this tender conglomeration

Of wood and physics

Had suffered so rank a beginner


Surely there was once a child

Or a fat aristocrat

Or an awkward curator. And

Now there was me.


I played, so badly, and still

It thrilled even to my touch,

Inviting, amused, clear-toned

Smilingly unforgiving.


New York

October, 2000

 Copyright 2000 by Guy Gallo. 


Michael Finnissy-Song 13

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Concert performance-London 1999

Peter Sheppard Skaerved

Stradivari 1734 (Habeneck)

Poet and dear friend, Guy Gallo

Michael Finnissy listening. London 2009. Photo; Richard Bram