Yourcenar wrote that death, to kill her, would need her complicity. Bernardo Sassetti left eight years ago without giving his consent to oblivion. Quite the contrary, he left daughters and family, friends and followers, work and memories in abundance.
His brand remains active and the sweeping originality with which he played, composed, drew and photographed remain intact. I would say that his creative genius was revealed in the passion with which he gave himself to everything he did, but especially to others, to those he loved. And it transmed into the intensity with which it was played to the music, with which it played its piano and its audience.
He had a blazing intelligence and an ability to embrace the unfmerible. He believed that he could come to everything he dreamed of and lived in the urgent exaltation of making it happen. Much more than past achievements, he was interested in the projects of the future. Always designed forward, even in the way it leaned over the keys or the paper, depending on the hours of the day and night. Endowed with a prodigious mind, he was exemplary in simplicity and humility, but also in the ethics and values with which he practiced his art.
Bernardo’s gaze crossed us (continues to cross) because he is full of curiosity. It was a look that stood, that he saw us inside and was interested in what was ours. It stopped to observe in depth, to repair, to absorb even the smallest detail. He often made no comments, only saw, listened and appreciated. It was very transparent and we could understand his impressions and intuitions.
We know that the whole universe in which human action is inscribed is uncertain and fragile. Bernardo didn’t escape the rule and his frailty touched us forever. His intense and brief life tells us a lot about our own ephemerality. Nothing lasts, nothing in us and around us is eternal, and if even carved marble can return to stone, and man to be dust, what good is existence?
In the absence and distance, certain things are better perceived. We can read, in the lives of those who have marked us, that we have all built ourselves through millions of trials and trials. We see, as in a mirror, that we are built on uncertainty, dread and overcoming. We do ourselves women and men in adversity, much more than in ease or in the certainties of happiness. The universal law is always that of frailty and a balance is not always achieved.
We all know that we will not escape death, absence, forgetfulness, but there are those who elevate their existence far above what is mundane and earthly. The life of each one unfolds between the immensity of our mistakes and the greatness of our achievements, it is true, but people like Bernardo attest more to splendor than to human misery.
In a time marked by the culture of image, the weight of success and the value of money, Bernardo Sassetti’s greatest ambition seemed to be to be able to respond to his inner demand. As if between him and his audience there was always an imaginary audience where a judge sat sometimes soft, sometimes severe, to whom he secretly responded.
Those who knew Bernardo well and had the happiness of having him in his life continue to hear the echo of his voice and laugh with his laughter. He was easily unaware of the noises of the world because he had the gift of creating other sounds and made us discover new heights. He had a vital need to expand his existence and that of those around him. He spent endless hours composing, arranging, touching, drawing and painting.
He wanted to feel whole in the world, absorb life, transform everything into music, beauty and light. That’s why he photographed a lot beyond the possible limits. He left a collection of four million photographs, images carefully captured and catalogued, because he did nothing by chance.
Aware that happiness was not in material things, in the acquired goods, he lived in an unceasing search for everything that vibrated and pulsed. He felt that knowledge freed his creative mind, but he constantly needed emotions and sensations. As with the absolute ear, so were his attention and interests.
Disconcerting, it was often too human and seemingly banal, but we all recognize that it was a genius (retroactive recognition is infinitely easier). He had gifts, talents and powers greater than most, played sublimely, bent over the piano, played the keys, closed his eyes and raised his soul to heaven. Thanks to Bernardo Sassetti we saw and heard what in other ways we could neither see nor hear.
In a world where it is easy to be immune to amazement, Bernardo allowed himself to be fascinated by others, by nature and, in a particularly loving way, by the beauty of each of his daughters. I loved the questions they asked him and the things they said. Affectionate, he was very tender with them and looked for extraordinary and creative ways to respond to them. I knew that each one carried with him a more than perfect version of mom and dad. He was dazzled by this combination of talents and was amused by the originality of each one.
Life and death are a great mystery, an unfathomable mystery that is not for us to unravel, but only to cross, living with the awareness that “half is science and the other half is faith”, as Novalis wrote.
Tomorrow, Bernardo would turn 50 and Beatriz Batarda will participate in the closing of the talks “Eu Cá Tu Lá”, where a simple but very felt tribute will be made. From 21:45 we can all watch live this conversation between Beatriz and musician Pedro Moreira, moderated by Matilde Secca, through the page “A Tempo”, on Facebook, or on Youtube.
I started and ended up with a quote, this time from Harold Bloom:
“It is difficult to live without the hope of an encounter with the extraordinary.” Bernardo was and will continue to be, for me and for many, this encounter with the extraordinary.