Monday, April 10, 2017

Three Vignettes in My Musical Experience and a Statement Made in the Great Depression - and How the Two Entities Dovetail...

One day, during my years as a high- school student, in the Prep Department at the Eastman School of Music, I was approached by my beloved piano teacher, Jerome Diamond, who asked if I'd be interested in performing at a meeting of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce during a lunch break there -  to offer a brief period of keyboard entertainment to the reigning officers of this august body of movers and shakers.
It was left to me to decide upon the music to be performed.
And so I decided to assemble an assortment of the sort of music that would best befit the event; that is, relaxing little gumdrops written by the likes of Victor Herbert and beyond.
Do picture the event:
Youngish to middle-aged men, all looking pretty much the same to me, as I recall, clinking cups and speaking with mouths full  of the foods offered - there was a constant murmuring sound emanating from these gentlemen as I played.
I clearly remember my not being upset at their lack of attention to my ongoing contribution to the great arts. I as clearly remember a decision I made at that pregnant moment to try out a piece I had up to that moment never played for an audience, which  I had recently learned with Diamond.
The piece was the Military Polonaise of Chopin.
As I dove into the music, I rather gradually became aware that the clinking and the murmur had stopped. The atmosphere had been transmogrified.
When I finished (and I really thought that it went well) I was greeted by loud applause, with some of the gentlemen standing while doing so, followed by some back-slapping and declarations such as "great" or  the like.
Diamond was not at this function-probably teaching back at the Eastman a few blocks away.
As well as I seemed to have performed, I continue to feel a sense of relief that Diamond was not there.
Would he have been angry at my decision to do what I did?
I never knew whether he ever knew about what I did.
To this day I continue to feel relieved, even though he might have been happy about my Chopin that day.
Vignette No. 2:
Later on, as a young  man and student, I recall working on the great Mozart Concerto K 488. On a particular day  my teacher at that time entered my room and asked if I would like  to try the music with him doing the orchestral part on another piano - I said "yes!" and we repaired to a nearby room with two pianos.
As the first movement moved toward the cadenza, I was aware that the teacher was having more trouble playing his reduction than I was playing the solo part. Notes that Mozart had never contemplated graced our little musical soiree, and I felt gleeful in that they were not coming from my piano - how often does the student feel triumphant over the teacher??
I have absolutely no idea as to why and how this incident came to pass.
But, again, I had experienced and enjoyed another moment of triumph.
Vignette No. 3:
While teaching on a Tuesday afternoon at the Longy School , I had a break of about 40 minutes, and so  I decided to continue working on a transcription of the Russian  Sailor's Dance by Gliere.  I used all kinds of tricks that I felt would mesmerize any audience that would hear it later on. I must say it did indeed become one of my encores in future performances, as it was received really quite well.
Well, during  one of my more fire-eating variations, the door to the studio opened (no knock), which disrupted me. As I looked up to see who had raped my privacy, I was astounded to see no other than the director of the piano department, David Bacon, forming a "Wow" with his mouth, and clapping silently, followed by a broad smile. Bacon was a respected pianist of his day, about a generation
older than me.
And yet another moment of triumph.
"Never in my life have I  been so well disposed."
My words? No - they certainly fit my three vignettes.
Adolf Hitler uttered the words, upon his realization that the Great Depression was opening the curtain of opportunity for his life's work to come into being.
How utterly arcane; how strange , the power of the word can find such totally different paths to follow...

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