The Music of Silence


I'm publishing a letter from Claudio Abbado.

"Once more I'm just back from my annual visit to Venezuela. Each year I have experiences that make me discover new pathways, that are social and cultural and human and it always gives me a deeper insight into the importance of the work carried out in these thirty years by my friend José Antonio Abreu.

The Abreu system organises the whole cycle of music education, from the basic introduction to courses at high level. This is done through units all over the country in all types of school and even for children with disabilities.

The two things that impressed me most were the enthusiasm and the energy that they have. These young musicians know that they are lucky because they have a clear social future that is born out of their beautiful collective approach to music and from the joy of doing music together.

Abreu’s organisation has always had the support and financing from all governments. Everyone agrees with his ideas, because they are right, independent and constructive and because they come together through a simple structure that works.

The system can be described as a pyramid. At the base there are the children’s orchestras. In the middle those of the young people and at the top the Simòn Bolìvar Orchestra. I hold this in very high esteem and this year we did some recording work together. It is from this orchestra that very promising young musicians are emerging. These musicians become symbols for all the others. They are examples to be followed For example: Edicson Ruiz, who at only 19 years of age is playing the double base with the Berlin Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel, currently the conductor of the Simòn Bolìvar Orchestra. I hold Gustavo in very high esteem. He was once in the Abreu school and now he is also conducting in Berlin. In mid-September we will come together with his orchestra in Palermo and in Rome and everyone will be able to hear this reality that is truly unique.

In Venezuela, where there is a terrible contrast between the riches of petrol and the poverty of millions of people who live in the barrios, this initiative seems like a new light that can involve more than 240,000 young people in the whole country.

Similarly, there are alternatives that can offer possible solutions to the critical situations that are current all over the world. In every country, even without the support of Government, there are initiatives of really great value. For example in Caracas, where a research centre in an American University has generously donated 200 hearing aids to youngsters forming the Coro delle Mani Bianche. The young people can neither hear nor speak. They use the movement of their hands to make their music.

As a citizen of this world, I feel the need to talk about these constructive initiatives and to talk about some critical situations in the world. They are situations that are often hidden to cover up a system that I think is unjust for the majority of humanity.

For many years we have had a world economy based on the use of petroleum oil. This has led to choices and decisions that are really egocentric that direct profits into the hands of a minority. It’s possible to say that approximately less than 10% of the world population gets rich, while the remaining 90% dies of hunger or lives in poverty. Faced with this situation, it is shameful to stay quiet. This system has been carried on without looking to the future. People have tried to use lies to hide the possibility of alternative economic systems. Now we have even reached the situation where war is taken to those countries that without the presence of oil, would not have been attacked.

At the moment, no one can change this system except those who govern. At the same time it is absurd to wait for the realisation of alternatives that are already functioning in part and not tell people about them. In reality, among the economies that are not based on the use of oil, there are initiatives against pollution, like the use of solar energy, wind energy, combined energy sources, and hydrogen (an element that can provide energy and zero pollution).

In 4 European countries certain regions are making good use of hydrogen for transport and for the country’s energy needs. In at least 4 nations of Europe they are installing distribution points for hydrogen. We hear very little about this and yet we do hear absurdities about “prohibitive” costs of hydrogen vehicles in comparison to vehicles powered by other fuels. On the contrary, the use of oil and petrol with transport and prices that are constantly increasing, costs 12 times as much as the economy based on hydrogen. We can clearly see that when a new pathway has an aim that is strictly commercial and does not raise questions about a certain type of economic equilibrium, there are no difficulties constructed to inhibit its spread. In reality, if a whole region, or even a whole city were to buy a hundred hydrogen vehicles, the costs would come down below those of currently used vehicles.

There are also other positive alternatives that some are guilty of not bringing into the picture as they should be. For instance, in Italy, there are cities that for years have been developing various forms of geothermic energy, by making use in various ways of the hot water inside the earth. This is used for heating homes, offices and schools. This could be done in many other cities or in parts of big cities. But the push to consume ever-increasing amounts of oil, leads to the “a priori” elimination of alternative economies but it also inhibits the rational use of electricity. For example electricity could be used to transport trucks by rail through the Brennero Pass as far as Verona. No-one talks about this.

If forms of racism didn’t exist and if this desire to protect at all costs the system associated with oil didn’t exist, it would be possible to take advantage of the development of alternative energy in those countries and in the continents that are the poorest. It is here where people are dying of hunger. These silences continue to consolidate the human disposition to destroy. To keep most people as ignorant as possible. We need to let everyone know that more than 90% of the world population has the right to know what the possibilities for change are. To know how this egoistic, disastrous economic system can be changed.”

 Claudio Abbado

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 01:52 PM in | Comments (9)
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Signor Grillo,

ma vada un pò a cagare!!! e non si permetta di parlare in questi temini in nome di tutto il popolo italiano, perchè le assicuro che ben il 50%, e non il 5% non il 15%, la pensa in modo diametralmente opposto a lei.

Pertanto le ripeto: vada un pò a cagare.

Posted by: Stanislao | April 14, 2006 10:34 AM

I think that we should remember how to calculate without electronic calculators, how to ride horses, how to butcher beasts for food (and the noble art of making prosciutto, lardo, salame, pancetta and ciccioli) how to sow, to grow veggies, fruit trees and all that because soon we will need it.
The sand of the desert will swallow those oil sheiks and all the continents will be far again.
I will miss the electric energy to listen to my music and finally I will die without counting my days when I will be terminally sick.

Posted by: Giovanni Principe | April 7, 2006 03:19 AM

Like Abbado, I'm able to leave my GSM open during a concert but not like a director like him :-) but like frequently happens, artists are feeling in advance a lot of things and we have to thank Maestro Abbado for opening a subject so important. It's a matter of fact that soon, very very soon, petrol will be finished and we are not ready to be without. Somebody says that this crisis will start in two years. Others says in 4 or 6 but not the authorities, not the producers, not petrol companies and not politicians...No one is talking about the end of petrol. Why? There are very huge interests behind or they are too busy to quarel about their selves. Since many years and years I heard how some inventors has been bought or killed and here around I found in a video clip, Grillo (Another artist) who was explaining to the Fiat workers how the projects about new technologies has been planed for only 2012.
Why so late?
I just read a book concerning the end of petrol. The author, Eric Laurent, did an investigation about this question. I don't know if the book is already translated in english but, for those who can read in french I frankly advise to read it before. Do you know why Kadarkowsky (The russian miliardaire director of the russian petroleum company Youkof) was arrested at the beginning?
Simply because he revealed to the press the petroleum reserves.
Do you know how americans are in Saudi Arabia since the discovery of the petrol? Thanks to an english guy, converted to islam and who was the only one authorised to contradict the king.
After this book you will understand why some countries were against the gulf war and why some others are still with the americans.
I think that here, we are spending a lot of time to talk about nothing, because politics, if they are a necessary sickness can't be healed with gossips.Yes, gossips. Just imagine what it can be if tomorrow there will be no petrol: No electricity, no central heating, no transports, no machines, no tools...Nothing! We will be nearly like in the middle age. China which is progressing with 20% a year will be blocked immediately...No exports anymore:-) But what about us? No machines for our agriculture, no transports to carry the dairies, no food products, no job for the majority uf us...Better to plan what you can do with your brain and your hands for your future. Those who has a garden or a simple balcony, now that finally spring is arriving, has to try immediately to grow fruits and vegetables instead of flowers:-)If they do mistakes, they will know it in time.

Posted by: blisco jajo | April 6, 2006 04:08 PM

Thank you Mr. Abbado. Good to hear there's not only bad news, although we may have to think hard here in Europe if we can match the enthousiasm and energy of the people in the 'developing' world.

Posted by: Jan Hendrik Günther | April 6, 2006 10:29 AM

Energy revolution or false news?

Schietti’s Engine: Renewable Power for Everyone.

The web’s enigma.

Press release for the media:

Posted by: Giovanna Castelli | April 4, 2006 09:00 PM

I am glad to see published this letter from Abbado.
It is a ray of hope.
It covers the major issue in our contemporary world the inclusion of millions and millions of people living in poverty due to the fact that very few persons are SPECULATING on energy resources and technologies.

I have sent some time ago to Beppe an article about air-energy as energy for cars and commercial trucks.
Developed in Italy! I mean researchers in our country are developing it and trying to commercialize it, but no-one is supporting it. NO-ONE.

Sustainable economy, alternative energy, redistribution of wealth is ABSOLUTELY possible… let’s put up the crap and do something.



Posted by: Maena Gambaiani | April 4, 2006 10:32 AM

I like Claudio Abbado's approach to the problem thru music.
Music is another way for people to get to the root of their problems by cutting through imagination, collectivity and needs.
I think that from the experience we learned from Venezuela, people found a way to get their thoughts together away from politics and get something done.
It's just a matter of breaking a certain wall and to talk with a language that most of the materialistical politicians don't understand.
For them is music of silence, for people with at least an ounce of humanity it's a library of words that can go very far.

Posted by: Giovanni Principe | April 4, 2006 04:11 AM

Caro Beppe,
Disolito i personaggi publici sembrano persone di casa, e sempre hai questa sensazione che conosci meglio loro che tua moglie; per questo mi sono permesso di darti del tu.
Sono Di origine Iraniano ( spero che questo non ti spaventi, per carita, NON per il fatto hai una splendida moglie Iraniana, ma per il fatto che in questi periodi, in particolare negli USA non e' tanto gradevole presentarsi tale!!, e viv da qualche anno in USA.
Durante 30 anni di vita in Italia ti ho seguito con entusiamo e affetto e Con gran piacere ho ammirato il tuo coraggio ( percarita', ancora NON per il fatto di sposare una Iraniana, -comunque complimenti anche per quello:)-ma perche' hai resistito di fronte ai vicisitudini della politica e e loro avversita contro ogni satirico. Ho ordinato il tuo DVD, Ma purtroppo negli Stati Uniti, sembra che il codice di zona del DVD non sia compatibile con quello degli EU, O forse Fin-invest ti ha forse bandito anche qui :) spero di no, comunque non ha funzionato; se i tuoi colleghi hanno dei sugerimenti, sarei felice di riceverli.

Inoltre ho visto il tuo appoggio al Open Source Technology che anche questo e' un piacere, ma ho visto un contrasto (tecnico) che volevo accennarti: il video che si puo scaricare dal tuo blog e' in versione WMV che appartiene al microsoft ed e' una technologia NoN-OPEN di Bill Gates, e non e' compatibile con Linux (sistema operativo open source). so che purtroppo tanti usano Microsoft OS, ma se i tuoi colleghi che gestiscono il tuo blog, inseriscano anche una versione REAL-PALY, che e' compatibile anche con Linux, sarebbe ideale ed e' un passo avanti, perche' permette alle persone come me che usano Linux di vedere i clip video in sistemi operativi open source.

Scusami per “namak-pashi”, e in boca al lupo .



Posted by: Kamshad Ravandi | April 3, 2006 10:19 PM

I live in England and recently worked in Jamaica and visited several countries for UNESCO. Most of these countries are geared to Oil instead of Solar Energy. This is totally illogical apart from Trinidad (which has vast natural gas reserves). Further if you know about developed in France & Spain why doesn’t this get more publicity?

I agree with the author that Ignorance of Information is perhaps the single most important factor that is holding people back not only in Developing countries but surprisingly, all of the Advanced countries too. This is due to several factors:
· Most Governments cannot provide effective basic Education (Reading, Writing, Arithmetic).
· Mixed messages come down from Governments to defend their non-achievements.
· People are punch-drunk with ‘Information Overload’.
· It is easier to get information today, so some people become lazy (like Calculator Syndrome, cannot add up)

What is needed is an re-awakening of people to foster a more pro-active debate as everyone cannot escape the common patterns of problems affecting all of us. This is a terribly important debate which should not be left to Politicians.

Posted by: William Corry | April 3, 2006 07:08 PM

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