One of the things I did this week was fill out a tourist visa application the length and detail of which I found fairly startling. I mean, I can see the point of questions like “what is your address” or “do you have any experience with military-grade weaponry” but it’s far less clear to me that the Russians really need a list of every foreign country I have been to since 2002 with the dates of visit for each. And also all the universities I have ever attended (ever) and the last two jobs I have had before my current one.
But I found that for whatever reason this piece by Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov — it is a staple of youth orchestras everywhere, which is where I first encountered it — is good music by which to fill out visa applications.
It starts out fairly simply. (What is your name? What is your passport number?) It seems easy enough. (Purpose of visit? dates of visit?) We’re plodding along in fine style here. But then complications arise. (That form you had to get from your hotel? There are numbers on it which need to go into certain little boxes on the application form. But all indications of which numbers are which are in Russian, in which language you are illiterate! Time to match up little rows of symbols!) The woodwinds seem skeptical and the brass almost menacing there for a moment. But things soon brighten. (Yes! Success! A climax of box-completion! We’re feeling very pleased and expansive at this point. We can coast along for a while very nicely, filling in the names of our parents and whether we’ve ever been married and all that. There are a few tricky bits, like the question about health insurance, but the interior logic of chord progression and a quick call to the HR office will see us through.) But what is this? (Have I ever been arrested?) It’s getting louder! We’re almost there! (Which consulate are we submitting this form to? Washington, DC!) Sign . . .date . . . ALL DONE.