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Prelude and The Raft of Poverty
In the Circus Ring
The Pedlar's Prediction
Hail Caesar!
Jealousy is Dead
A Steam Engine for a Piano
Stalin Organs
Hungarian Rhapsody: a failure
White Nights
All or Nothing
Pilgrimage to Saint Frambourg - Dawn



          Soleilka Cziffra


          « Deux étions et n’avions qu’un cœur ». François Villon. (‘We were two with but one heart’).



          I’m an Egyptian, born in Rome. Soleilka means ‘sun’. Not that I’m being pretentious: the name was given to me by my parents just like yours was. My father used to say laughingly, "You’re a daughter of the sun, Soleilka, and you will rise above everything."

          He used to tell me that the rulers of Ancient Egypt were our ancestors and that I should be proud to be a daughter of the sun. And so I was – very proud.

          Just for fun, I would go out into the garden and call out to the sun, "Shine!" Since we lived in Rome, it shone. That was easy. I would call to the wind, "Bring us some rain!" and it rained. If it didn’t, it was just that the trees weren’t thirsty. There’s a simple explanation for everything if you don’t want to lose heart.

          I married Georges Cziffra, a Hungarian, in 1942. With him I lived through war and peace; he played for the living and the dead. We experienced death, fire, art, love and, above all, faith and resurrection. Then we lost our son. Then I lost my husband.

          At this moment I, daughter of the sun and of the puszta, am in dark, damp crypt of the Chapel in Senlis. Surrounded by the collapsing pillars of the Carolingian monument, I am kneeling on the mud floor at the foot of the statue of the Bishop of Saint Frambourg. Sharp bits of gravel cut into my knees while my hands are busy collecting the flowers, strewn here and there by the anonymous faith of visitors, and putting them into vases.

          Modest tokens of a reviving cult, the fresh wreathes bow gently over the ribbed sides of the stone chasuble. For an instant, my fingers brush against the feet of the statue, fixed in their eternal, holy expectancy. The rough surface recalls the cold earth I had clawed at on impulse like a terrier until there appeared, wrapped in decaying rags, the statue now standing before me. I looked up, instinctively hiding my hands covered in earth and gravel. The Saint gazes through me dreamily to Eternity. From his blank stone eyes I feel a warm, appeasing dark wave coming from afar as if in answer to a prayer.

          I often go into the Chapel to walk down the nave a little and relax. I walk with all my sorrows, dreams, hopes and faith. Over the speakers, the sound of the Rachmaninov concerto announces the start of the next visit. I sit for an instant on the hard-backed bench and listen: I feel within me the warm, appeasing, dark wave which shone in the statue’s blank eyes. The dreamy gaze passing through me to eternity is the message of Saint Frambourg: "Your deeds shall be accounted for in the realms of the living and the dead."

          Georges and I lived through war and peace; he played for the living and the dead. We experienced fire, art, love and, above all, faith and resurrection.


May, 1996.



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