October 1, 2013
Dear Key of Strawberry,
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Brzjk and I live on planet Ulfz located many light years from you. We have been aware for some time that life exists on your planet—I believe you call it Earth. Nevertheless, we Ulfzians have been reluctant to make contact with you. Quite frankly, it has been felt that a civilization still making war and plagued with famine and disease is not yet ready for a meaningful exchange of ideas and values.
However, your recent blog posting that refers to the existence of string quartets on Earth and even elsewhere in your solar system has changed our minds. A recent poll asked the citizens of Ulfz whether creatures already playing Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart string quartets would be worthy of contact. Seventy-nine percent said yes.
And so, we Ulfzians send you greetings across the interstellar space. Naturally, I’ve done my homework and looked up the names mentioned in your blog. I find with great pleasure that Ashkenasi, Tenenbom, Setzer, and Mann are human beings who actually play string quartets. (Incidentally, depending on tonal nuance, “Ashkenasi” in our language means “I love you” or “No thanks. Perhaps another time.”) We are eager to hear performances of your professional string quartets but wonder why you have been dealing with primitive devices such as wax cylinders, platters run at different speeds, and MP3 players? We suggest that you just think the performances and beam them over to us. So much simpler and easier.
I myself am the violist in our quartet, the Bwzvlj String Quartet, named in honor of Bwzvljius, our most renowned instrument maker. The other members are Nrk, cello, Ush, second violin, and Nargon, first violin. We met in music school and are still a relatively young quartet. We formed 179 years ago.
Our repertoire continues to grow and extend into almost all areas of music. Care must be taken where and when we perform certain composers, however. For example, music from the Romantic Era sometimes causes extreme emotion, even uncontrolled sobbing in adolescent Ulfzians, and what you earthlings refer to as twelve-tone music has been responsible for mysterious outbreaks of rashes when performed at old age homes on several of our moons.
It’s a privilege to be a member of our string quartet but the life has not always been easy. I’m forced to hear very unfunny viola jokes at every rehearsal; Nrk’s antennae shake when he gets nervous in public; and Ush has had recurring tendonitis in his fourth arm. At present, first violinist Norgan is the big problem. He thinks he’s God’s gift to the violin. He doesn’t accept criticism. He believes his part is always the most important. Are first violinists on your planet also like this?We would be grateful if you or any of your readers can offer advice on how to get Norgan to mend his ways.
I send you my best wishes for more string quartets and less war, famine, and disease on your Earth. No one ever dies or gets sick playing string quartets, at least not here on Ulfz.
The Bwzvlj String Quartet
Member of ISQA (Intergalactic String Quartet Association)
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