The Power of Constraints
With your help, we have raised over $281,000 (across multiple charities) to help Israel cope with the Hamas atrocities.
The offer still stands: If you donate $100 or more to one of these charities, we’ll be delighted to mail you a signed copy of one of my books – Soul in the Game: The Art of a Meaningful Life or The Little Book of Sideway Markets. Donate $200 or more and we’ll send you both. (Email receipt to Barbara at firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate which book you’d like to receive. We can mail in the US only).
By the way, holidays are coming. Donate to these charities, and we can mail signed books directly to your friends as holiday gifts. Everybody wins!
Once every three months, Stanley – IMA’s marketing guru – and I sit down for a video session. Stanley asks me questions and for about three hours, I answer them. Then, he turns this long video into short (6-9 minute) video clips. If you have questions you want Stanley to ask me, email them to email@example.com.
Over the last six months, I have been exploring (i.e., writing about) a very interesting topic: the value of scarcity and the pitfalls of abundance. I love this scarcity/abundance framework and I can see how it can improve the quality of our lives. It will be a featured discussion in Soul in the Game Volume 2, whenever I finish it.
I have to admit that a love for Bach’s music is fairly new to me. I felt Baroque music lacked emotion and was somewhat boring. Then one day I was perusing YouTube and stumbled on a video of Glenn Gould playing Bach’s Concerto No. 1 in D Minor. I don’t know if it was Gould or Bach, but I was mesmerized by this piece and listened to it nonstop for a week. This was Glenn Gould’s first public performance. He is introduced to the world by the one and only Leonard Bernstein, who is also conducting the concerto.
Composing music is somewhat similar to writing a play – you can be as descriptive or undescriptive as you want to be. Bernstein makes this point in the lecture preceding the performance. A playwright may write, “John walked into the room and said ‘Hello Martha.” Imagine if you were the director and that is all you had to stage this scene. You don’t know how old John is or how he talks. How he looks. You know nothing about the surroundings. There is a lot of blank canvas to fill in here.
Or the playwright could describe John as a middle-aged, balding, overweight New Yorker wearing dirty jeans with giant holes in the knees, limping slowly into an empty room whose linoleum floor is barely covered by smelly red carpet and whose walls have been carelessly smeared with peeling white paint. The more descriptive the playwright is, though, the less creativity and imagination are left to the director.
Though to civilians (like yours truly) all scores look intimidatingly the same, a composer also has the option to either just provide the outlines of a story and a few snatches of dialog, or to go to the extra mile in describing how the music should be played. The more descriptive is composer is in the score, the less room for creativity he leaves for the conductors and performers.
Mahler was incredibly precise with his music: He described every little innuendo of his symphonies. Bach was not descriptive at all. He left a huge space for interpretation of his music, and you can clearly hear that in this concerto.
Glenn Gould’s performance is vastly different from any other performance of this concerto. He plays it noticeably slower and accentuates the notes significantly more – his performance evokes melancholy where others deliver energy. Gould could not, however, have been able to slow down the concerto on his own; he needed an accomplice: Leonard Bernstein.
Vitaliy Katsenelson is the CEO at IMA, a value investing firm in Denver. He has written two books on investing, which were published by John Wiley & Sons and have been translated into eight languages. Soul in the Game: The Art of a Meaningful Life (Harriman House, 2022) is his first non-investing book. You can get unpublished bonus chapters by forwarding your purchase receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org.