Clifford Rieders

A Music Critic I Am Not

While I would never pretend to be a music critic, the performance of the Israel Philharmonic in Tel Aviv, led by the legendary conductor Zubin Mehta, with soloist Pinchas Zuckerman, was astounding, literally beyond words. It was the music that spoke since words could not compare.

Mehta, the 88-year-old Indian born conductor emeritus of several orchestras around the world, including the Israel Philharmonic, walked on and off the podium several times, using the assistance of a cane only once. He never had to look at the sheet music.

The concert venue in Tel Aviv was absolutely full, not an empty seat in the cavernous Bronfman Concert Hall.

What makes the Israel Philharmonic one of the greatest orchestras in the world, is not only the technical expertise of the musicians, but the labor of love clearly evinced by both orchestra participant, conductor, and audience. They fuse as one.

Zuckerman, one of the greatest violinists of his era, played Mozart, exuding both love and warmth for his trade, his fellow musicians, the conductor, and the audience.

The second half of the concert, and it was almost like watching two concerts, was the Bruckner Symphany No. 4; Romantic. The Austrian composer wrote the piece in 1874, but with changes thereafter. This incredible piece of music not only takes a full, precise, and superb orchestra to play it, but itself tells a story of the Austrian Empire that dominated Europe at the time.

Bruckner cleverly used big horns, percussion, strings, and every means available to him to tell a towering story from the most minute melodic signatures, to the imposing voice of large brass instruments. Listening to the long Bruckner Symphony is like living through a piece of history.

There was something connective and spiritual, about listening to this awesome concert in Israel, during the war for Israel’s survival. While some in the world do not support Israel’s right to existence, or its effort to eliminate terrorism, this tiny nation in a sea of hatred for western ideals, continues to live, thrive, and “yes,” enjoy music.

We now know that UNRWA, the United Nations organization responsible for Palestinian refugees, supported the rape and murder of innocent Israeli civilians.  The news is out that reporters and photographers from the national and international press aided Hamas in its attack against western civilization on October 7, 2023. Even the UN, no friend to the Jewish people or humanity in general, has confirmed, after five months, that the most heinous crimes were committed against women by the terrorists of Hamas and their supporters on October 7, 2023.

What does the beauty of music, and the splendor of a concert have to do with Israel’s war of survival? The truth is, it has everything to do with it. Israelis, and Jews in general, seek triumph over adversity and the desire to live a moral lifestyle notwithstanding that they live in a sewer of international misplaced condemnation.

In a distorted sense, one has to marvel at how well Hamas has used its own citizens in both the literal and the propaganda war. Billions of dollars have created the Hamas terrorist tunnel system, rather than using all of that international money to better the lives of those who live in Gaza.

In the meantime, Hamas has successfully breached America’s wall of freedom and democracy, as expressed in the First Amendment requiring respect for free expression and free speech. I heard a story the other day of a family visiting Cornell University where their daughter had been accepted. They were followed around on the campus by those shouting pro Hamas terrorist slogans at them. Free speech, on many college campuses, exists only for those speaking in favor of genocide. What about those who support the Israeli democracy in the Middle East, along with peace and tranquility? For them, the right to free speech seems to have been suspended.

I have talked to professors and students around the country who have been labeled as “war criminals” for supporting the right of Israel not only to exist as a transformative democracy in the Middle East, but also to fight terrorism the same way that all western societies have since the plague of terrorism has reared its ugly head in modern times.

While music, and the ability of Israelis to stay humanized, rises above the smoke and ashes of war, the enemies of a modern world are unrepentant in pursuing their Jihadist desire to impose totalitarianism not on the Middle East alone, but now also in western Europe, England, and the United States. Our freedoms are slipping away, while the beautiful music plays. We have been lulled into a false sense of tranquility out of fear, and sometimes even a misplaced sense of who the victims are. The victims are not those people living in Gaza supporting Hamas or providing boundless amounts of money to that terrorist group, but rather are those who understand that the freedoms that we have too long taken for granted can only exist where the harmony is able to coexist with the melody.

About the Author
Cliff Rieders is a Board Certified Trial Advocate in Williamsport, is Past President of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association and a past member of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.
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