Life is a Melody – Derek

I saw your video and was moved. Not sure if this is the right place to this, but I thought I’d submit it anyway. I’m not sure why I’m doing so (it’s not something I talk about often, and it’s painful), but here it goes…

I’m a composer, and in 2011 (at the age of 25) I wrote a string quartet in a mad haze that came from the depths of a broken heart.

I was emotionally beaten, bruised, broiled and stewed by a narcissist. It was slow dance excuted with a rich poetry. The non-love we had was completely reactionary and impulsively spontaneous with whatever reality was around us. It was horribly wonderful and It left me dead and angry. Around a month after it all ended, I was suddenly struck with a rare inspiration. What followed was a 2.5 week period where I lived a hellsih life and wrote down my whole story, on my own terms, with my own blood, sweat and tears. I slept and ate very little, and was a mere conduit for this piece to pass through me. When I was done, I knew that I had given it my all.

Its premiere was one of the most meaningful and painful experiences of my life, and within a year of its premiere, the piece became internationally performed and recognized. It won international prizes and made me visible in my profession. When I (would) meet new people in the “(new) music” world, they would express a reverence for this piece. I was even thrice stopped by people I didn’t know on the subway saying “are you the young man who wrote ‘the quartet?!”.

It was all very fun and overwhelming (and unusual for the world of contemporary classical music) and I was very proud of the piece (and still am), but I couldn’t write after that. I was paralyzed with horrible anxiety and a major depressive episode. My productivity began to diminish and I wasn’t to bring anything else I nearly ended my life. I felt that every note I wrote after that had to be better than my breakout piece. I was overflowing with ideas for pieces but I couldn’t sit down and do it. I felt I was a hack, or a fake, or that it was all a fluke. I completely withdrough from life and a functional existence. It took me five years to learn how to sit with myself when I create (and to create again with unapologetic meaning and intention). I had to learn that it was ok to write whatever I needed to write whether it was good or bad. I had to build a structure for myself that I hadn’t had before so I could create. I had to build friends with my inner analyst, and I had to tell the inner critique to fuck off. It was a slow and painful process of rebuilding my patterns and my belief in myself. I’m far from perfect, and it’s always a inner negotiation to keep your worst inclinations at bay. I had to learn that every day when you create is different, but what matters is that everything you create is meaningful.

I’ve been writing uninterrupted since 2017, and have been fortunate to experience other artistic successes including a chamber symphony last year based on the artwork of Goya. I’m currently working on String Quartet No. 2!

To love is a struggle. To create is a sacrifice. To love and create is to live