September 10, 2022 at 4:59 pm Central—If I were to leave you with a link to The Köln Concert performed by Keith Jarrett in 1975, it would sufficiently represent Saturday’s Full Moon in Pisces. After all, as a mute sign, music would be a more appropriate medium for a Pisces Full Moon than a written essay. But there’s much to say here about the richness, the magic and the longing of this Full Moon. So I’ll share the story of the concert and how it represents this lunation.
How a broken down piano and a perfectionist made musical history
I first learned of The Köln Concert from the Ted Radio Hour when I listened to an episode on how chaos can lead to creative breakthroughs. The example used was jazz pianist Keith Jarrett’s legendary performance in the Opera House in Cologne, Germany, in 1975.
The story goes that an ambitious Vera Brandes, a 17-year-old jazz aficionado and youngest concert promoter in Germany, arranged for the much admired pianist to play the Cologne Opera. 30-year-old Keith Jarrett appeared at the sold out show of 1400 seats exhausted from travel and performance. He was also suffering from back pain. Known for his perfectionism, when he found out the wrong piano had been delivered, he refused to play. For one, the piano was too small for the room and the pedals didn’t work. Further, the worn out leather made the high notes ring brassy, the black notes stuck and the rest were out of tune. What could you do with that? Turns out a lot.
Brandes pursued Jarrett out in the rain as he made his way to a car. Soaking, she begged him to play. She must have been persuasive or he had a compassionate heart. Maybe it was both. But he came in and played.
The performance, punctuated by Jarrett’s moans and masterful hacks to bring out the best from a dilapidated piano, riveted the audience. From the first sprinkle of notes, everyone knew something astonishing was unfolding. Even as I write this, I’m listening to it and weeping. Jarrett spontaneously improvised the entire set, sacrificing himself to the music gods which liberally free-flowed through his broken body into a crippled piano and from there, auricularly into the souls of all within earshot. The music had found its vessel and it didn’t require perfection. It needed total connection and absolute commitment. The Köln Concert is a timeless phenomenon: it’s the best-selling piano album in history. Pure, acknowledged genius.
Full Moon in Pisces
When we consider the Full Moon, we understand that of all the signs, Virgo holds the highest standards. Like Jarrett, the Sun and Venus in Virgo demand a quality of excellence and always strive for optimal performance. This energy prefers to decline engaging a rickety piano; it would plan on an exit strategy. Yet, if they stick around, they are the ones that hold the key to hacking beauty out of chaos, like playing the middle keys to avoid a brassy sound. And with the Sun’s trine to Uranus, sticking around despite irregular conditions can bring surprising, even delightful results.
The Moon’s square to Mars speaks to agitation. Perhaps there’s an aggressive front to overcome or spikey communication. Yet sometimes, it’s exactly those tensions—like exhaustion or keys that stick—that provide the kind of work-around that delivers a brilliant result. Additionally, given that over half the sky is retrograde at the time of this Full Moon, many of us are reviewing and integrating our recent past as we seek to negotiate next steps forward. Perhaps if we lean into the discomfort of Mars while relying on our discernment to strategically use it as well, we can surprise ourselves with excellence.
The Moon joins Neptune in Pisces, a signature of surrender, longing and union with the divine. In udiscovermusic.com, Charles Waring writes on Jarrett’s ecstatic improvisation. He shares, “Besides jazz, the piece draws on folk, classical, Latin, gospel hymnals, and even country music, all bound together seamlessly in what could be described as the musical equivalent of a stream-of-consciousness outpouring.” In Pisces-speak, when we surrender to the moment and go for it, we allow enchantment to move through us. The flow uses every part of us and the output is more than the sum of its parts. Like the Moon in Pisces, the creative force can feel as if it’s being channeled through us. Further, with the ruler of this lunation, Jupiter, in the heroic sign of Aries, this is a time to move boldly and with courage, because miracles can and do happen everyday.
Show a little faith
Another musical maestro and American treasure Bruce Springsteen once said in Thunder Road: Show a little faith there’s magic in the night. Our piano might be out of tune, our nerves frayed and our spine a shipwreck. Yet even in these circumstances, there’s a spirit of visionary boldness present that can beautifully improvise with our pain and our imperfections, taking us further into excellence than we’ve gone before. It’s ours for the taking. We just have to open ourselves up to it.