Today a very interesting walk on the musical side: Django Reinhardt
Preliminary remark 1: Isn’t it interesting that Non-German people like Jews or Gypsies very often have German names, like Zimmermann, Libeskind, Rothschild, Horkheimer, Wiesengrund Adorno or Goldman? (while Germans often are named Podolski, Schimanski or Kaminer)
Preliminary remark 2: Some musicians “fall from heaven” (as my mother used to say about Mozart), they don’t need musical education, notes or solfege but play all by themselves and by ear, while electric-studio is invented to make singers of unmusical people with no voice at all, and some are even offered large sums NOT to sing.
Jean “Django” Reinhardt was a pure Gypsy, a “Manouche” like they are called in France. Once his caravan caught fire and Django was severely burnt. “This man will never play guitar again”, the doctor said. Two fingers of his hand remained paralyzed and the doctors even wanted to amputate one of his legs. But Django resisted and learnt to play only with two fingers and his thumb. If we only could play like him with a full hand! He composed too (“Minor Swing”) but mainly he improvised or covered existing songs (“See you in my dreams”), together with the violinist Stéphane Grapelli, who had fallen from the Italian sky. Very late in his life he learnt to write – Stéphane taught him only the upper case-letters. “Three things are important in life: to play guitar, to play billiard and to go fishing”, Reinhardt used to say, and he did it for many years in Saumois sur Seine (near Fontainebleau), were he died with only 43 years. After World War II, Reinhardt became re-immersed in Gypsy life, finding it difficult to adjust to the postwar world. He developed a reputation as being extremely unreliable.
I had the pleasure to meet a young Reinhardt in Hamburg (the Reinhardt-clan extends in spite of the Nazis on many countries, see “Schnuckeschnack” Reinhardt) This boy was extremely intelligent, extremely musical, but not really interested in school.