COMPOSER ALAN HOVHANESS WRITES TO MARTIN BERKOFSKY
(quoted with permission)
3 FEBRUARY, 1973
Just a line to express how much I was impressed by your beautiful letter of Jan. 28, 1973. While I am very sorry that you were ill, at the same time I feel that you have had a genuine enlightenment or mystical experience. Don't let anyone discourage you on this point, as most people are thoroughly immersed in a world of thick, dense materialistic clouds of illusion, and in their present state are unfit to understand a true experience. They will say it is insane, but it is an experience of higher wisdom and comes in the form of vision. Also, often physical disability or sickness brings on this tremendous universal view. I remember a day in Seattle in 1967 when I was very ill and thought I could not travel with the orchestra, which I was supposed to do. Suddenly the heavens opened, also the dark walls of my hotel room opened. It seemed that I could see everything, including the mountain and the stars and other worlds beyond, all through the power of music, because at that moment, I heard inwardly for the first time the main theme of Fra Angelico which seemed to be played by the orchestra of the universe. After this experience, I seemed to be suddenly completely well, so I dressed as normally and went out to meet the orchestra. Later I copied the parts from memory without even making a score and conducted a brief rehearsal or runthrough of a wild cosmic sound leading to the full statement of this theme in its climax form, with brass and full strings. The members of the orchestra were quite shaken with the experience of the music and came up and told me so. I did not mention anything about how the music came to me, but I could see that it was a reality and not a dream or a spell of insanity. In fact, one learns many things by certain kinds of dreams, dreams which have the wind of truth blowing through them, dreams which are not dreams but a being lifted above the dense ocean of physical life. Because of this, I was much interested in your experience, which seems in every way normal and positive. These things are the most important things in life and any artist who has them has an important journey to make and something important to say to the world.
All best wishes in every way and much courage.