Simon Shaw-Miller

Posted on February 5th, 2010 by

Simon Shaw-Miller. Visionary and communicator. Photo: Richard Bram

‘How my Soul is split, /Betix’t the eye and ear’ Templar, in Gottold Lessing’s Nathan der Weise

The death of Fischer-Dieskau,  combined with Simon’s talk sent me running back to Lessing’s Die Liebe,  which Beethoven set in 1792, the year that he said goodbye to Bonn and his beloved Eleanor von Breunig.

Ohne Liebe/Lebe, wer da kann;/Wenn er auch ein Mensch schon bliebe,/Bleibt er doch kein Mann.


Süße Liebe/Mach’ mein Lebensüß,/Stille ein die regen Triebe/Sonder Hindernis!


Schmachten lassen/Sei der Schönen Pflicht;/Nur uns ewig schmachten lassen,/Dieses sei sie nicht!

On May 18th 2012, the Kreutzer Quartet was delighted and honoured to play late Beethoven and later Mendelsohn for for Simon Shaw-Miller’s inaugural lecture at Birkbeck College, University of London. A wonderfully diverse collection of thinkers, from the worlds of art, music and film, heard Simon’s lecture  ‘Opsis, Melos, Lexis: the Image of Music without Text. This deeply personal talk, pivoting around the ‘Cavatina’ from Beethoven’s Quartet Op 130 referenced Aristotle, Duchamp (especially his notion of the ‘infra thin’), Leonardo  (‘Each Art needs something of the others to rise’), Giorgione, Manet, Lessing, Clement Greenberg, Roger Scruton, Carl Sagan, and the Voyager probes. Both Simon and I share a fascination with the artistry of my much-loved teacher, Ralph Holmes, and he provided a lodestone for the talk. Felix Mendelssohn’s very literal ‘Cry’ at the death of his beloved sister, Fanny, as voiced in the impassioned violin part of the final quartet, provided envoi for a fascinating and touching  journey of thought.

And a personal thing-there was much talk of loss, of facing death, but in this music, these voices, there is so much joy, so much life. My son, Marius, I realised as Simon talked, was born 150 years to the day after Mendelssohn died.

Simon Shaw-Miller and Peter Sheppard Skaerved. This is a long term discussion about the nature of music and art that continues to enthrall me


Morgan Goff and Neil in preparation for Simon's talk