Generally speaking, of course, any pursuit of art in camp was somewhat grotesque. I would say that the real impression made by anything connected with art arose only from the ghostlike contrast between the performance and the background of desolate camp life.  I shall never forget how I awoke from the deep sleep of exhaustion on my second night in Auchwitz – aroused by music. The senior warden of the hut had some kind of celebration in his room, which was near the entrance of the hut. Suddenly there was a silence and into the night a violin sang a desperately sad tango, an unusal tune not spoiled by frequent playing. The violin wept and a part of me wept with it, for on the same day someone had a twenty-fourth birthday. That someone lay in another part of Auschwitz camp, possibly only a few hundred or a thousand yards away, and yet completely out of reach. That someone was my wife.

Viktor Frankl

Man’s Search For Meaning

Today is one of the most important days of the year. It is Remembrance Day and also the Ninetieth Anniversary of the end of the Great War.  I have been a student of military history for most of my life, because I am fascinated by the irrationality, terror, improbability, tactics, sights, sounds, and stories of war.  Reading Viktor Frankl’s description of life at Auschwitz as part of a course on theodicy (a discussion of the relationship between God and evil) was a harsh reminder of the limitless capacity of human cruelty. Frankl was interested in more than describing what happened in the concentration camps and goes on to elaborate his theory of the meaning of existence and the psychological crisis at work.  He was grasping with the question: Why did I live when so many others died? I often ask myself how I was so lucky to be born at a time and place where I have never been asked to risk my life for something.  Regardless of how you feel about the legitimacy of any war, it is hard not to admire the heroism of the many men and women who have gone off to war.  World War II gave us the classic dynamic of good versus evil thanks to Hitler’s unbelievable final solution.  Other wars have not been so clear cut.  Please take some time today to remember, reflect, pray, and thank those who faced iron and steel, and the impossibilities of war.

The song that I have chosen today is the first instrumental piece I have ever written.  It was part of a project I began working on for my previous job at Fieldcote Museum in Ancaster, Ontario. I had hoped to create a slideshow but I never seemed to have the time. I composed two pieces of music for it, the other became HG Plant Companion, and decided to expand them for my album.  Deer Deer was dedicated to the deer I would see many mornings lingering around the bandshell.  They would run off when my car rounded the bend, thereby relinquishing the site to me for the day.  The song was inspired by a Radiohead song called Melatonin. There are 4 instruments involved, with most of the work being split between bass, violin and cello. This song was really the first time I composed using these instruments together.  It made me feel like a real composer for a day. I chose to use this song today because I don’t think any of my other songs suit an occasion like Remembrance Day effectively.  The lyrical content of my music generally doesn’t address such serious topics as war or death.  In this case, I want the instruments to speak for me.


This is Deer Deer:



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One Response to “Remember”

  1. fallicule Says:

    Very deep post, Peter. I’ve read some of Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search For Ultimate Meaning’ and (if I remember correctly) one of the primary focuses of the book was on how modern generations (ours, our parents’) search for meaning is different than that of prior generations. No longer are we forced to war (by our country), we no longer live hand to mouth, and we have been afforded many luxuries in the past 50 years that make our lives easier. As a result, we have ample free time to ponder what this journey is all about and to try to create meaning in our own lives. This can be a blessing and a curse because asking such philosophical questions can drive a person crazy but each of us owes it to ourself [and to God] to try to answer it. Perhaps the exercise of trying to answer it yields the true benefit, that being, heightened awareness that our time here is so precious and our friends, family, and fellow human beings are the most important things there are in this world.

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