We have come here to hear Beethoven. Listening to music has become a private affair in recent years, but there is little that is private here. Blankets and lawn chairs crowd the space beneath the trees, and toddlers run freely through the grass. Teenagers trip awkwardly over reclining older couples, and their embarrassed parents abruptly fold up their seats and disappear. Grandfathers dance slowly and mysteriously across the lawn and settle quietly next to their children’s children, still moving in time with the music. Picnic lunches are in progress. The Ninth Symphony calls us all to universal brotherhood.
Beethoven can make you feel that you’re outside no matter where you are, or make you want to be. It’s not really nature that he’s thinking of, perhaps; it’s some kind of ideal, but then so is this particular corner of the Berkshires. We’re all looking for Elysium, some kind of rose-strewn landscape with a canopy of stars, capitalizing our nouns and wondering if this is what it feels like to be drunk with fire.