A Marriage of Poetry and Classical Piano Music
“. . . Now I want something different,
Something different, without a name,
I know surely that I will be lost, dead. . .”
So lamented Terenti Graneli, the 20th century poet from the Republic of Georgia, in his poem, Memento Mori, which like much of his work, expressed loneliness and torment but also ecstasy. The Bohemian Granelli died in a mental hospital in 1934, at the age of 37, but now, almost a century after he published some of his major works, an amateur pianist from Georgia has accomplished something different, in fact something at once different and creative, with his poems.
GRAND PIANO PASSION™ caught up with the amateur pianist Nino Dangadze, in this interview translated from the original Georgian.
I wanted to ask about what role the piano plays in your teaching career.
It plays a very important role. I am a teacher of Georgian language and literature at a private secondary school in Kutaisi, where I was born and raised. In compliance with the common Georgian tradition, I took seven years of piano lessons until I was 14 years old. Then when I became a teacher, my piano lessons married my literature class.
While preparing to teach the class, I had to review a lot of Georgian literature, especially poetry, and I discovered that when reading poem A, for example, a particular piece of music started playing in my head. So I got this idea of having a classical music recording accompany the students while they were reciting the poems.
That’s so neat! How did your students respond?
They loved the idea. They used to be bored out of their minds by poetry before I brought in the music, making up all kinds of excuses for not memorizing the verses assigned for homework, but now they’re all perky and engaged.
What more could a teacher wish for?
Exactly. Probably the proudest day in my teaching career so far was when I helped my students organize the poetry night called “Neither Life, Nor Death, but Something Else,” dedicated to Terenti Graneli, in May of this year. Showcasing the work of this sorrowful, ill-fated Georgian poet was a great honor, and it was really moving to hear my students recite his lines.
Can you recall any stanzas from some of the poems and the music you chose as accompaniment?
“. . . When the ghost of age steals on my soul.
I am a strong talent, celestial creature,
My soft country is azure. . .”
from the poem, Memento Mori. We had Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata playing in the background for this one.
Nice… Can you think of another example?
“. . . Far away, the wind shrieks; nearby, a nemesis.
Night’s falling; it’s seven sharp.
There’s blue in Galaktioni
But in my verse, the abyss. . . “
This one is from Galaktioni and I, the poem in which Graneli was comparing himself to Galaktion Tabidze, an epic Georgian poet.
Very interesting…and which music did you select for that one?
The Korean pianist, Yiruma’s composition, Moonlight.
That’s beautiful. That must have been such an amazing experience for you, the students, and everyone else in attendance. Did you have a chance to accompany the students on the piano with a live performance at all that evening?
Unfortunately, no because we don’t have a piano in the school auditorium, but I would have loved such an opportunity. It’s definitely something I aspire to do in the future.