I’m writing this shortly after 2 a.m. local time. A humongous Texas rain- and thunderstorm has blown in, coming down from Amarillo, where a friend informed us by text message, earlier tonight, they’d had four hours of heavy rain blowing horizontally. Well, it’s here now, and still horizontal! The noise of rain on the windows woke me up, along with a nervous cat wanting reassurance that the nasty water wouldn’t get in here. So far, it hasn’t.
Today let’s listen to a piece of music that’s both modern and classical, themed from today’s events yet timeless in its message. I’m speaking of Paul McCartney‘s piece for orchestra and chorus, Ecce Cor Meum (“Behold my Heart”). It was his fourth essay into classical music, after he was invited by the president of Magdalen College, Oxford, to compose a piece for the inauguration of the College’s new concert hall.
The piece’s genesis was long delayed by the death of McCartney’s first wife, Linda, from cancer. In many ways, it’s his memorial to her. In a 2006 interview with the Washington Post, he said:
“Linda very much pervades the whole piece,” he says of the American he married in 1969 and with whom he raised four children.
When McCartney was asked to write a choral piece to inaugurate a concert hall at Oxford University’s Magdalen College, he and Linda went to see the place together in 1996. They were together when he agreed to take on the project, which he says he took as a chance to try something new.
“When I was in the middle of it, she passed away, and we went through all the anguish, which stopped me,” he says. “And then when I was able to pick it up, I picked it up by writing some of the very sad things in it.” Near “Ecce’s” opening, the sopranos soar: “Take love away and we are ruined / In a world without each other / How could we go on living our lives?”
“I remember sitting at a keyboard and just weeping as I wrote this piece,” he says about the woman who was his partner for three decades, for whom he wrote “My Love” and “Maybe I’m Amazed.”
. . .
As he drains his tea and finishes his bagel, it is Linda who comes up repeatedly, as inspiration for “Ecce’s” most upbeat passages along with its darkest ones. “Life has to go on,” he says. “I am basically an optimist and she was very much an optimist.”
There’s more at the link.
The piece premiered in 2001 in Oxford, England, and had its American premiere in 2006. There are relatively few versions on YouTube, so I’ve chosen a live performance from Spain for this morning. The piece seems to work better (at least for me) in a live setting. See what you think. (If you need them, the lyrics may be found here.)