When Daniel Barenboim, the Israeli-Argentinian pianist and conductor, visited the Royal Festival Hall in January-February 2008, he played all 32 of Beethoven's piano sonatas to packed audiences. I was one of the lucky ones who attended every one of those concerts and also the talks he gave while he was there. Those concerts remain amongst the most enduring memories I have. At the very end, when Barenboim played the last note of the last sonata, there was a silence of several seconds. It wasn't because the audience didn't realise he had finished. It wasn't because the audience had fallen asleep. It wasn't even because the audience had been told to remain silent then.
The silence was because each one of us was digesting the culminating moments of what was a superb cycle of arresting performances by one of the world's greatest musicians. When the applause came, as inevitably it did, it was thunderous and prolonged and no one in that audience wanted Barenboim to go. It is impossible to describe the feeling of elation that comes with unique experiences and yet also of sadness that it all has to end.
Another thing that is coming to an end is the preparation of the publication of The Triumph of the Dark, the final novel in my 'The Shadow of Avalon' trilogy. It is so near now. Unless something really earth-shattering happens in the next fortnight, I shall be publishing the novel by the end of this month. I will be blogging again when the book goes live.