It has come to my attention over the last years that the stage reviews of many of my colleagues are prefaced by the words,”Although now 45, he is still a strong performer,” or “Looking older than we last saw him, he still manages to convince.” It is time now for me to say the following words to the anemic cretins who write these desktop reviews of virtuosos: “Stick to reviewing plant life and leave the Witches alone.”
A true performer, like Liszt, like Horowitz, like Birgit Nillson, often has an extremely long career span—- and will be performing long after your life is diminshed from tripping over your child’s bicycle and impaling upon yourself upon the Christmas tree of your wife.
A great performer is a vampire. We have trained to be thus. We have trained to enter the Pantheon. Of course we are punished for this,but no longer by the Gods, who have retired forever in despair—so dim is their reflection upon the humans they once challenged— but by the tiny minds of paralyzed voyeurs, who are incapable of discussing our work on any level, never literal, and now not even figurative.
If a performer appears upon the stage bald or with white hair after you have not seen him for ten years, this is not commentary for a musical review. I will quote Gregory Sandow who wrote that whether or not Charlie Parker performed only in his underwear— was immaterial to how he played.
Liszt performed with long white hair, the master of the piano, and not less so for his age. Vladimir Horowitz and Arthur Rubenstein, and Mary Lou Wlliams were masters only days before they died. Sonny Rollins cannot be condemned to the grave which is inhabited by small minds who lurk like worms awaiting a fresh kill. It is to escape these worms that we choose to be cremated.
You may not execute superior mortals because you wish to replace them with dime-store models, no matter how profitable it may appear. The Young Lions, a youth talent brigade of men, The Young Turks- was imposed by Wynton Marsalis– upon his own race– to exclude black innovators who were his teachers. But one day “The Young Lions” will become old, but toothless, toneless, without a song to sing– undistinguished by innovation. They will not be displayed among the masters beause they were and are all imitators, fighting for a throne in Ethiopia, which does not recognize them as citizenry.
The witch’s focus is upon the production of a new turn of phrase, a new twist of the song, a new fight, the immolation of a lie if it takes the creation of a masterpiece to do it. The great witch Mary Anne Amacher,who was felled only by a freak accident,had a house filled to the rooftops of unparalled work and she slept on the floors of every studio to which she was invited worldwide—and created more bizarre work through the years.
The vampire knows that only new blood will sustain her. New blood, new research, new language study, and willful deconstruction and reconstruction, new meter, new arrangements, new writing, difficult performances–which later become great ones– through perseverance.
You who wait for the ticking of the clock so that you might one day proclaim that one of us is approaching our dotage should imagine instead your own life, which is is fading behind you, like a reflection of your netherparts, wretched, hanging, like the flanks of a tethered animal, too long unfed,alone, and unloved.
Beware the vampire, who is the slave only of his imagination, not the new breed of a butterfly- in- pins which paints your life.
The vampire sees right through you, murderer. He knows that you want to replace him, that you cannot wait for him to die. Hail the new Caesar! To quote my brother, “Ah, but no.”
For genius is a disease that cannot be ordered on installment, or eliminated by same.
While you are chained to your fence, pray that a vampire does not become too hungry one day in your own country, grab your tail with his teeth and skin your alive.
THE GREEK VAMPIRE
DIAMANDA GALÁS, MAY 2010