Let’s be honest:
If you’re a musician reading this, “Have you ever considered finding another line of work, either out of curiosity or necessity?”
Not that I lost passion for music and wanted to put an end to it, but once there was a time I was so inspired by and comparing myself with artists of the past who had multiple talents and thought that maybe playing music somehow wasn’t enough for me, that I wanted to become even greater and more famous person in the world and that I could handle it.
Of course that’s not how life works AT ALL, especially if it’s the irrefudable “greatness” that you’re going after.
It’s so wrong.
But many of us including myself thought this way in our school days. We’re often uncertain of what we really should and must do, and are optimistic enough to believe that we could climb two ropes at the same time.
Because most people have no idea what true COMMITMENT looks like, sounds like, tastes like.
It’s the same reason why the divorce rate is now soaring past 50%, by the way.
If they did, divorce wouldn’t be an option.
Which is related to why I’ve broguht up the list:
The 4 Craziest Musicians In History
Who Attempted Different Ventures
And as you go through the list below, take a look at their careers and think about each of their consequences. Some of them we rarely hear people talking about in today’s world (I understand you might be one of their admirers).
1. Alexander Borodin (1833~1887)
Borodin was one of the five Russian composers who formed a particular musical circle called “The Mighty Handful”, and also known for the opera Prince Igor with its prominently exotic and melancholy theme of Polovtsian Dances.
However, majoring in a pharmaceutical at the medical college in Petersburg he continued in his growing passion to work as a chemist. At 23 years of age, he started working in the Second Military Hospital before arriving at the post in the medical college in Petersburg in 1864. He seems to have completed a lot of missions in the realm of organic chemistry throughout his entire life, while the progress of his composition was rather slow, having constantly tied up with his medical service. His First Symphony had to wait until 1867 for its publication. And the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor that we know today – he would never see its completion alive.
2. Giovanni Battista Viotti (1755~1824)
There’s no doubt anyone who studies violin have played his concerto some point during their development. As a violinist Viotti was reputational around Europe, notably in France because of his major success with Le Concert Spirituel in Paris, Viotti was hired into the Versaille to serve the Queen Marie Antoinette when he was 29 years old.
However, his situation changed politically and financially since the French Revolution in 1792. He escaped to London and took up his wine dealership there just so he could make extra cash besides conducting Italian operas. But then he would have to pay the price – because of his wine business, he had to drop his real business. And what has a man without skills & experience of dealings got to show for it? After all, the wine business soon had to close too without any significant prosperity.
3. Muzio Clementi (1752~1832)
As a pianist he’s said to have rivaled Mozart at the time. Clementi’s case seems less extreme compared to 4 other musicians in this list because the other venture he had was not absolutely irrelevant to his profession. Yet still, he began making a financial investment to music publishing industry around 1798, and would become the owner of the company in England and take over the business. He was still active as a pianist and a teacher, but it’s questionable if we could say that he was successful as a composer that we know today.
4. Gioachino Rossini (1792~1868)
Both in opera buffa and opera seria, Rossini was a leading figure in the 19th century who pretty much dominated the entire operatic world. Amongst many others, “The Barber of Seville”, “William Tell” and “Otello” are the culmination of his musical production.
However, there was something which never ever left his dear life – “appetite”. He was a fat, ravenous and happy-go-lucky fellow. And not only did he loved dining but also he had extraordinary interest in cooking and trying out all kinds of recipes and cuisines. Rossini’s gastronomic sense went even as far as naming one of his piano works “Quatre mendiants et Quatre hors d’oeuvres” (4 desserts and 4 appetizers). So after withdrawing from the mainstream opera production with William Tell being his last operatic work at the age of 37, he officially went full gastronome and started running his restaurant in Paris where he was the boss and a chef himself. Because of his social contacts and reputation, many of those invited were particularly the elite and friends (and ladies, of course!) of high class. The anecdote of Rossini at a visit by Richard Wagner during a conversation upon operas frequently getting outside of the room to check if the venison was being cooked well is a legitimate proof that describes his gastronomic obession.
Isn’t it quite interesting that in our musical society we don’t really find ourselves remembering and talking about these musicians or composers anymore? Rossini could be an exception. But still, he “retired” early in life from writing music and was very quiet all along as a musician afterwards. Why is that?
Borodin may have left us some good output, but it’s hardly your most favourite repertoire nor do you still talk about him today. Why?
Viotti may have been a good violinist and composer but when it comes to real music you could’t care about him less. Why?
Clementi may have been a good pianist and composer but you know very little about him. Why?
Do you think they just lacked the talent? Or good fortune?
Or do you think it was the lack of commitment that’s caused all this?
Think of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Horowitz, Cazals, Milstein, Karajan, Bernstein. They’re remembered and you still talk about them every day. Because these musicians have done far, FAR more in life than any of those I mentioned above.
They loathed settling for the second-best or being forgotten by everyone when they died.
So they just did the one thing and put all their heart and soul and energy into it, and kept dominating the world until they had to go beneath their graves.
The one thing they could 100% certainly and proudly believe to be their “vocation”.
Where their life depend upon.
What does it take to succeed?
What kind of will?
What level of commitment?
Success is not a choice. It’s a MUST.
What if Rossini hadn’t been so complacent and crazy about cooking dishes but instead kept growing and evolving even harder as a composer all his life?
What if Viotti had trusted himself and kept going playing music instead of selling a bottle of wine?
What if Borodin had focused on music solely? Don’t you think he would’ve done a lot more and better?
As for Beethoven and the others, “loving” something is NOT enough.
You feel that you just HAVE TO succeed. Otherwise you’ll die.
Success or death.
That’s a mark of a true “expert”. The mastery.
God only rewards the committed people.
Don’t try to climb two ropes.
Success or death.
That’s it for today.