As I walk down the long corridors of The Amsterdam Music Theatre to my office, I suddenly hear music coming from one of the ballet studios. It seems someone's there, in the middle of the night, playing the piano. A melancholy tune floats down the corridor. When I arrive at the studio, I look in. Though I can hear the piano, I can't see the pianist, as he or she is playing in total darkness. I stay in the corridor quietly, still unnoticed, and listen.
I hear sounds of melancholy and desire. It's almost certainly Russian, though I don't recognise the composer. The melody keeps repeating and starting again from the beginning. As if the pianist can't say farewell to his favourite chords. But I, too, want to hold on to this moment. The pianist and I both share the powerlessness to say farewell. I don't want to take leave of this wonderful evening; this wonderful week. Like the music now permeating the night, I too want to start from the beginning again. So that it would be Tuesday morning again, the day of the Gala. I would be inspecting the decorations in the building again, putting the final touches to them, getting dressed for the evening, admiring my wife in her new dress, shaking hands with the first guests, greeting Her Majesty, talking to the Ministers, receiving Máxima's compliments about the YouTube films and the live cinema broadcast, being happily surprised by the Lord Mayor's sincere enthusiasm, receive the congratulations of Joop and Janine Van den Ende, and compliment the relieved and proud Hans-Willem and Frederik, etc., etc. I'd like to feel the excitement again that buzzed throughout the building all evening long. And once the important guests had left, I'd get on the dance floor again, just as on that fantastic Tuesday evening, and Ted and I would ask the DJ if he'd carry on for an extra half hour. Yes, I'd like to live through it all again from the beginning. And then again.
All of a sudden, the pianist stops. In the middle of the melody. As if he suddenly realises that saying farewell is inevitable in the end. That sooner or later the end will come anyway, and putting it off is futile. He races out of the dark studio and I meet him in the corridor. It's Boris Akimov, the famous Russian ballet master, who has been coming to us for years to give classes to the dancers for a few weeks at a time. I thank him and ask what he was playing. "Just a little music", he says with a modest smile. "Just Russian melody. I have recording at home. Bring you present next time", he promises. And then he rushes away, as if time itself is chasing him.
I don't rush. I take my time. So I'm putting off the farewell for a bit after all. On my journey past the deserted offices on my way home, Boris Akimov's tune is still going round and round in my head. Melancholy and desire. Melancholy because it's nearly over already – this party week, in which we've given the outside world such a convincing display of everything we've all worked so hard for over the years. But also desire. Desire for new challenges, new successes and new milestones.< blog archive