March 13, 2015

The Cellist

        According to our local string instrument shop, March is Cello Month.  Presumably they just want to sell us cello paraphernalia, and of course cellos really ought to be celebrated every day of every month, seeing as they’re the most beautiful instrument in the world.  But whatever.  I’ll go along with it.  So today I'll celebrate Cello Month by sharing a fun wood block print of Gauche the Cellist.  This is the illustration of a story by Kenji Miyazawa, and it’s apparently a famous and much-loved tale in Japan.  In the story Gauche, a mediocre cellist, is visited by a series of animals as he practices for an upcoming concert.  The animals teach him that music has healing powers, thus helping him in his performance at the concert.  My daughter T hasn’t been very enthusiastic about her practicing lately, and I’m quite sure talking animals would help her, too.
        This wood block print was made by Kunio Iizuka (Japan, b. 1939) to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Miyazawa’s birth.  You can see three of the visiting animals, a cuckoo, a cat, and a mouse.  In this image it looks like Gauche is playing outside under the stars, which is fun.  I like the expression on his face: maybe a bit tired and discouraged, but gently stubborn.  If you’re going to keep practicing and getting better at an instrument, you need to have both stubbornness and love of the music, and it looks like the Gauche in this woodcut probably has both.

[Picture: Kenji Miyazawa’s Gauche the Cellist, woodblock print by Kunio Iizuka, 1996 (Image from Lighten Up Your Life.)]

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