Thursday, September 1, 2016

Recalling the Very Day of Defining Events - and the Transcendent Ubiquity of Music...

Veritably all of us recall a specific day of the week connecting with a great, life-changing or historically altering course of events, such as, say, the passing of someone dear or , say,  the passing of President Roosevelt on April 12, 1945. For me, a mystifying connection with a musical happening on the same day falls into place, such as the death of  Roosevelt. I happened to be walking home from  my weekly piano lesson at Eastman School in late afternoon, musing over having been selected to perform one of my compositions at the next Honors  Recital in Kilbourn Hall. Mr. Diamond, my beloved teacher through those high school days, had chosen little old me - I felt like the proudest rooster on the block! My  reverie came to a shocking end when one of my friends stuck his head out of the door of the store he was working in as I passed by,  and  asked if  I knew that the President had died. That day was Thursday, my piano lesson day.
To go back further: It was one of  my favorite days of the week ; matinee time at the local movie. My middle brother and I were just emerging from the cartoons and Westerns usually showing on that day of days; namely, Sunday. As we came out of the theater, we were puzzled by our being met by  our father, who never before had come to take us home, as we customarily walked home from the movie theater.  He wore a grim expression as he told us about the attack on Pearl Harbor some hours earlier. I can only speculate as to why he had to come and get us. Dad had always been an intense student of things historical, and had, I suppose, a sense of dread about the implications of  this event and just felt compelled to talk to us on the way home about the significance of the Pearl Harbor attack, through his eyes, even though my brother and I were still in short pants going to elementary school.
It was also the same day that I had just started to learn a new piece on the piano which I just adored; a Tarantella by Pieczonka .
As  a friend and I were walking  to high school on Wednesday, June 7, 1944, someone in front of us yelled back that D-Day was well under way in France, having begun on the 6th. It was also the day that I was to play my solo version of the Warsaw Concerto by Richard Addinsell in the auditorium.
It was Sunday, September  2,  1945. In Tokyo Bay, General Douglas MacArthur presided over the official surrender of the Japanese Empire, ending World War II, on the American battleship Missouri.
My family and I were still in Old Forge, a hamlet in the Adirondacks, and were preparing to return home for a new school year. I remember the celebration that evening at the Old Forge Hay Fever Club, where I led a community sing of patriotic tunes while banging out the accompaniments on the piano.
I remember emerging from a music theory class I had just finished teaching at a private local school, and was then informed of the assassination of President Kennedy. It was a Friday, November 22, 1963.
Fascinating - that special glue the mind uses for such events...

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