[Viewpoint]In support of the supportersWe are wholeheartedly proud that talented Koreans have emerged as stars in the global arena. I am thrilled and pleased to see people such as pianists Son Yeol-eum and Kim Seon-uk, swimmer Park Tae-hwan, ballerina Park Se-eun and figure skater Kim Yu-na stand out among their peers.
Younger, talented Koreans are also dreaming about the big potential the future holds. I am confident Korea will stand head and shoulders above the rest because of such brilliant figures. I am so proud of them; my heart is full.
Lots of wealthy people want to invest in these talented individuals to help them cultivate their interests and skills. If someone can get a powerful supporter to ensure these talented youths can devote themselves to their dream without any other worries, their success in the future is practically guaranteed. However, I would like to point out that most people run the risk of overlooking a crucial point in this regard.
Musical talent is different from ability in other fields. Athletes and ballet dancers have a limited period of time to display their talents; musicians don’t.
Arthur Rubinstein is a prime example. The Polish-American pianist is widely considered to be one of the greatest piano virtuosos of the 20th century. He was active and vigorous well into his 80s. If someone could play an entertaining, accessible and often inspirational mix of outstanding music throughout his life, he can be considered a master artist. It is crucial, for our future success, to give young musical talent the chance to display their ability here and abroad.
However, a young musician should also be given space to create his own special world at his own pace, without time limits. Training talented young people is a difficult and complex task. Therefore, it is of great importance to have the philosophy and belief to support them.
Talented people are highly unusual in many ways. When an adult performer plays Piano Sonata No. 32 composed by Beethoven at the end of his life, the performer tries to play as if he had undergone all the same painful passages during his life. However, a young genius can not understand such emotion. He doesn’t even know that he needs to express such emotion to play the masterpiece well, full of artistic expressions of human emotions. It is a talent.
Still, if someone tries to inculcate him with common and objective ideas, it can limit his imagination and his genius will disappear forever with it. The point is that we need to wait until a person finds himself in the world, governed by nature’s provisions, making him better able to understand and respect humanity.
In addition, the young performer’s mind is fragile and tender. While walking briskly toward the stage in the limelight, a young performer’s heart beats wildly from anxiety. This is the moment where a supporter can play an active part. The backer can communicate heart-to-heart with the prodigy to help him handle his fears and feel relieved.
One of Beethoven’s biggest fans was his pupil, the Archduke Rudolph von Habsburg-Lothringen, whose extremely generous support allowed the composer to continue living and working in Vienna. Nadezhda von Meck stayed a fully dedicated supporter of Tchaikovsky and all his work. They provided havens and were powerful supporters for the two great masters, who relied on them in both spiritual and economic ways.
Supporting musicians is never an easy or fascinating role. The supporter should help the talented musician reflect on himself in his or her music, rather than follow the career paths to success blazed by others. The backer should share pain with the person in the many days of loneliness and solitude so he can overcome these feelings to find musical inspiration; guiding him to the right path, even though he writhes in the agony of trying to overcome his limitations. Simple financial support without wholehearted consideration might result in contaminating the innocent spirit of the talented man. A supporter should neither use nor own the genius. He or she should love giftedness. He or she should be a beautiful person of culture, with a sincere belief in love and modesty for talented people.
If a supporter has no respect for a musician, and makes no effort to share the painful times with him, it will lead to the unfortunate misunderstanding that the benefactor possesses the musician he supported and controls the beautiful music. I yearn for a supporter who is modest for music but warm-hearted for talented people.
*The writer is a professor at the Korean National University of Arts.
By Kim Dae-jin