Author: Saadut
•8:32 PM

For many of the carefully chosen political elites by the Indian state for the Zubin Mehta event at Shalimar, how many actually understood what the Bavarian State Orchestra was playing there? How many among the audience had any understanding of what was happening on the stage?

There is no doubt about the musical genius of  Zubin Mehta, but sadly that genius was overshadowed by his politically incorrect statements, most of which displayed his utter lack of knowledge about Kashmir, while the event suffered from convenient political packaging by India.

Interestingly Zubin Mehta started the concert with Beethoven’s 3rd symphony. Beethoven in 1803 had constructed his 3rd symphony, one his greatest epics ‘The Eroica’ ( Heroic ).  Greatly inspired by the French revolution, Beethoven envisaged Napoleon Bonaparte as a great revolutionary leader who would liberate France out of aristocracy and oppression. He hence dedicated the 3rd symphony to Napoleon Bonaparte.

The 3rd symphony is known to be longer than other symphonies. Although Beethoven has used a varied spectrum of musical notes and keys to portray different emotions here, the best expression of this symphony comes in the Second Movement. This movement was called ‘The Funeral March’ by Beethoven, depicting the mass funerals that were taking in France at that time. ‘The Funeral March’ is a classic expression of helplessness, apathy, sorrow, grief and torment that the public faced under oppressive aristocracy in France in those dark days. Rings a bell in modern Kashmir?

Ironically exactly at the same time as ‘The Eroica (Herioc)’ was being played and especially when ‘The Funeral March’ echoed in Shalimar gardens, funerals of Kashmiris killed by Indian forces were being carried in Shopian; grief and torment were playing live there. Exactly when Zubin Mehta was playing the 3rd symphony that originated from the French renaissance, Kashmiris were being trampled under barricades and military might.

When in late 1804 Napoleon crowned himself as the Emperor of France, Beethoven was crestfallen and dejected. His hero had betrayed him and as Beethoven later commented “He’s (Napoleon) just a rascal like all the others,”

Does this political treachery ring a bell to Kashmiris, who were also sold by the very leader who led them against the Maharaja and later only crowned himself?

Beethoven had been so infuriated by Napoleon’s stealing the revolution and proclaiming himself Emperor of the France’ that the master composer rushed to his table where the complete score of his 3rd Symphony lay and tore the title page that held Napoleons name. Some reports suggest that he used such force to erase the name of Napoleon from the title page that holes were left gaping there. These holes were marks of disgust at the deceit that the revolution leader had played with his people. The same disgust that Kashmiris have been expressing for six decades now against a forced aristocratic order.

Wonder if any of the New Delhi representing politicians seated in the premier rows at Shalimar understood what Zubin Mehta was playing? Did the political class that represents repression in Kashmir know that the music they were pretending to enjoy actually represented a fight against the same repression they were part of?

Wish they knew what they were listening to. Ignorance as they say is a bliss, but for how long? 


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