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"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Category: Music

bach: the gift that keeps on giving . . .

rosemary, cyclamen and a kabocha squash on the kitchen counter . . .

rosemary, cyclamen and a kabocha squash on the kitchen counter . . .

As a pianist whose favorite composer is Johann Sebastian Bach, I have numerous recordings of the Well-Tempered Clavier, Books I and II. Any pianist who undertakes to learn them all and then perform them either by memory or using the music has my respect and admiration, even if their recordings aren’t necessarily my most favorite ones. Up to today, I owned Bach WTC I & II recordings by Glenn Gould, Sviatislav Richter and Angela Hewitt. I also have random prelude and fuge recordings by Clara Haskill, Maria Joao Pires, Martha Argerich and Peter Serkin among others.

Many of us recall the splash made by the Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould, when he came upon the music scene, seated on a sawed off wooden chair, humming to himself, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was on stage in Carnegie Hall and playing the Goldberg Variations faster (and with more clarity) than anyone had ever imagined possible. Gould also recorded the Goldbergs, this time at a much slower tempo twenty years later and it’s interesting to listen to both sets one after the other. For a long time, my favorite pianist performing Bach was Angela Hewitt, also a Canadian pianist who has recorded just about everything Bach ever wrote for the keyboard: Inventions, Partitas, English and French Suites, the Goldberg Variations, both books of the Well-Tempered Clavier and other pieces like the Italian Concerto for solo piano and the keyboard concerti with orchestra.

Today, as I was finishing my breakfast, I came upon a review in the New York Times of the French pianist, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who performed the WTC – Book I, using the score at a Carnegie Hall recital. The reviewer noted that Andras Schiff performed the WTC by memory and seemed to “channel Bach.” I happen to disagree with this opinion because I have listened to a few clips of Schiff playing Bach and am bothered by the tempo and rubato liberties he takes with the score. That is, he plays unevenly and pauses at places that seem to please him, and not as Bach intended it–at least not to my ear. The photograph in the NYTimes article of the Steinway concert grand and the pianist on the wide stage was striking, a gorgeous snapshot depicting the glory of a pianist playing Bach on a concert stage. After reading the review, I listened to a few segments on I-Tunes and then purchased the album once I figured out what my Apple I-Tunes password was after a few futile attempts.

I listened to this new set of preludes and fuges while I did an hour or so of housework this morning, and found that I liked them a lot. I cleared off items crowding space in the plant room, fed the canary and rearranged sea things that I had found on the beach last year when we went to the Cape after Christmas. I made a new playlist for the downloaded disc and burned a CD for my car. As I pulled out of the driveway to go to the post office and grocery store, this new Bach piano music filled the car. The morning sun shone through the trees, many with brilliant yellow leaves that had not yet fallen. For me, there’s no simpler nirvana than to listen to Bach while doing chores inside and errands out and about.

So, heartfelt thanks first of all to Johann Sebastian Bach, for composing all that lovely music in the first place. Gratitude for the New York Times newspaper which also keeps on giving, introducing me to concerts, pianists and recordings that I might not otherwise come across. Kudos to Pierre-Laurent Aimard for playing Bach so beautifully and for making this recording. And a huzzah to Apple and I-Tunes for making equipment that enables someone like me to download, listen to, purchase and then copy a CD for my car in less time than it takes to sweep the floor!

All in all, I’m grateful for this rapturous confluence of art and technology on a brilliant Fall day here in New England. What a JOY!

 

Postscript: I noticed that the Aimard CD in hard copy on Amazon.com is listed for $16.99 while I downloaded it on I-Tunes for $11.99.

 

music “binges” . . .

piano handEver since I was young, I’ve been prone to going on music binges. What that means is that I listen over and over to music that I love, entering a world of tonal joy and ecstasy. I think this kind of visceral and emotional response to music runs in my family, actually, since there are a lot of musicians in the lineage on both my mother’s AND my father’s sides. I’m a pianist and have perfect pitch. My younger sister is a violist and violinist who has played professionally her whole life. I have a first cousin who is a cellist who studied with a famous teacher at Yale before going to medical school and becoming a pathologist. The three of us have played chamber music together on a few occasions in the past.

Be that as it may, it doesn’t really account for these binges that I’ve had where I discover for myself a composition or a related set of pieces and then play them to death. In those days, we didn’t have earphones so I would listen to music as a teenager, holed up in my bedroom with a 33 rpm player. Some of my favorites as a music nerd from that time were Rachmaninoff’s Symphony #3 with the heartbreakingly gorgeous third movement and clarinet solo that was and and still is “to die for.” The opening repeating octaves of Brahms’s Symphony #1 are thrilling every time I listen to it. Other favorites at the time included Leon Fleisher’s recordings of the 1st and 2nd Brahms piano concerti recorded with George Szell; David Oistrakh playing the Khachaturian violin concerto and Jacqueline Du Pre, Daniel Barenboim and Pinchas Zuckerman playing Beethoven trios together when they were still young, vibrant and brimming with life’s exciting possibilities.

Believe me, it was another era in music. It was before Jacqueline du Pre’s career and life were cut short by multiple sclerosis. It was during a time when du Pre and Barenboim ran off to Israel and got tempestuously married with Zubin Mehta taking on a Jewish name so he could attend their wedding. It was before Pinchas Zuckerman divorced his flautist wife, Eugenia and married Tuesday Weld. And it was before Jacqueline du Pre’s life ended in her forties, her erstwhile husband, Daniel Barenboim having secretly abandoned her for a Russian pianist, Elena Bashkirova with whom he had two sons in Paris before du Pre passed away. I’m recounting this history because it illuminates how life takes turns we don’t expect, people change and find other people to love and life sometimes seems unfair.

But come back and listen to du Pre’s famous recording of the Elgar cello concerto conducted by John Barbirolli (who himself was a cellist) and you won’t feel so bad. Her sound and phrasing are incredibly moving. I read online that while playing piano trios together, du Pre (cello) and Zuckerman (violin) shared an unspoken kind of musical intuition that was different from that of Barenboim (piano) who wrote down markings all the time. The other two didn’t bother to note anything in writing but would “take off together” musically on occasion while they played, neither of them able to articulate how it happened or why it worked so well.

Some of you might have heard of the gossipy book and movie made by du Pre’s sister, Hilary after she died. It stars Emily Watson, and whether parts of it were true or not, certainly maligned the cellist’s personal reputation while giving air time for her sister, Hilary. Why do people do this? One of Hilary’s daughters countered her mother’s account, saying her father was serially unfaithful, even while carrying on with Jacqueline during the last years of her life. What family does this to each other in the public’s glare? Why was it important for Hilary to get her digs in after Jacqueline du Pre not only died of multiple sclerosis but whose talent was so glorious? Maybe that’s why. Daniel Barenboim, who doesn’t come off very well no matter how you dice it, was said to have asked plaintively, “Why couldn’t they wait until after I was dead?”

I also read that William Pleeth was with du Pre when she passed away from MS at the age of forty-seven. Pleeth was her teacher for seven years and was a prodigy himself. He was the youngest scholarship student at the Leipzig conservatory when he entered. At the age of fifteen, he had not only learned all of Bach’s cello suites by memory but also had thirty-two violin concerti under his belt by that time. I didn’t even know there were that many violin concerti, familiar only with about a dozen of them. My father was an amateur violinist who would play excerpts from the familiar Mendelssohn violin concerto, especially the poignant melody from the second movement that knocks me out every time I hear it. It’s not only lovely to listen to, it reminds me of a much simpler time in our family’s life.

Other musicians have had incredible lives as well. Anne Sophie Mutter, the premier German violinist who made recordings with Herbert van Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic was married for a few years to Andre Previn, believe it or not.  Lorraine Hunt was a violist and didn’t begin singing seriously until she was in her thirties. She then began a trajectory of concerts and recordings (Handel arias) that were cut short by cancer when she died at the age of fifty-two.

By now, you’ll have noticed that my binges include reading about musicians’ lives as well as listening to favorite recordings they have made. With the advent of I-Tunes, I can now satisfy my OCD-ness by listening to and comparing a number of renditions of a particular piece or movement online without even having to purchase them. Last night, I came across a recording of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Suites for Two Pianos, recorded by Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire in 1985. It’s an astounding set of movements played with top speed (Argerich) and yet amazing technique and clarity. Argerich has been married three times to two conductors and a pianist. A daughter was born from each union. In the meantime, I’ve always thought that Nelson Freire was in love with her the whole time anyhow even though they were good friends while she went through her marriages. They have not married, but I read somewhere awhile ago that he moved into the townhouse next to hers in London where they live side-by-side. In recent clips, you can see that they both smoke like chimneys while they keep on playing piano music together.

Maybe musicians’ lives are no more or less passionate than other people’s. Maybe actors and theatre people’s lives are similar. I don’t think there are many people who could/would learn thirty-two concerti, never mind that many pieces by the time you were fifteen years old. Daniel Barenboim has survived the approbations of his marriage to and death of Jacqueline du Pre. He’s aged and is now in his early seventies. His wife, Elena Bashkirova doesn’t seem to have aged much at all. It’s noticeable, though, that in their photos, she either has her arms around him, leans in or otherwise is saying with her body language, “he’s mine!” In a 2004 interview, Barenboim was quoted as having asserted that “I don’t think she knew!” referring to Jacqueline du Pre and his affair/family with Bashkirova before she died. As though that’s what he thinks might have mattered the most to her? or to anyone else besides himself?

 

 

 

 

hermitage . . .

DSC_4374_2(Friday, June 6th): Today, G. and I are making our way up to the coastal town where our granddaughter, A. is graduating from high school tonight. Other relatives and family are doing the same from as far away as Minneapolis, Chicago and Arizona. These family occasions spaced years and sometimes even a decade apart, bring people together who would not normally see each other at all, (like me and my ex-husband.) So, there’s opportunity to either mix and visit or avoid people due to the large numbers of people present. There’s nothing easier than being invisible in the midst of many, is there?

Sort of reminds me of the search to find Taoist hermits that Red Pine and others made to the secluded mountains of Sian in China. Bill Porter thought that hermits were in plain sight sometimes, because you might not know that you were looking right at them. I think it’s a good example to take for this sojourn. I can be there for my graduating granddaughter and to retreat in strength and quietude the rest of the time.

This will be a good tactic because neither of us is wholly well. I am able to walk and go on stairs using a crutch. As of yesterday, I’m even able to drive a little, using my left foot to brake. G.’s back and nerve pain are not much better these days. What a pair we make! The younger generation has taken over in case anyone noticed (meaning me.) I keep a rather firm hand on what we do over the holidays at my house. But my daughters are certainly capable and willing to “take it from here.” We’ll see how this sea change goes this weekend. I’ll let you know too.

(Monday, June 9th): Well, we made it! While it was a little grueling physically and we needed and had lots of help from my daughters, M. and C. to fetch things from the car to our little studio room (see ‘room with a view’) G. and I managed to walk or ride in a wheelchair to the graduation on Friday night and to stay for the socials on Saturday and Sunday. Remember above when I mentioned all the folks convening? There were three pairs of exes and current marriages across two generations. When the reason for getting together is to celebrate a young person’s graduation, poised to enter a whole new world for her, people can be gracious and cordial towards each other, especially when there are lots of people around. This self-regulated kind of gentility can do wonders towards mitigating long-festering resentments, misunderstandings and tension.

On the other hand, some things don’t change that much. Throughout the entire weekend, only one remark rankled me to bits. But G. my husband, had this wise admonition: “a good man is worth reproach.”  In this case, I took his advice. The rest of the weekend went well. The weather couldn’t have been more beautiful. Our granddaughter was happy and relaxed, surrounded by her friends and family. There was plenty of food and I only had to be a Chinese hermit for a little while. We had help packing and emptying the car, only forgetting some of G.’s meds which will be mailed to us soon by my daughter C. Thanks to all for a good time!

“berceuse” . . .

A Berceuse is a “musical composition that resembles a lullaby.”

Somehow, after reading and hearing so much about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death yesterday, I thought about playing Chopin’s “Berceuse” on the piano this morning in his memory.

Here is a rendition that expresses the sadness of Hoffman’s passing, an elegy of sorts, played by Vladimir Ashkenazy.

May Philip Seymour Hoffman’s family survive his absence.

bach and (much) more . . .

Now that the Christmas things have been packed up and put away, I turned my attention yesterday to learning how to use the new Tascam recorder my daughters gave me. After a few tries, learning how to input the settings like “turn mic on,” I sat down at the piano Xmas 2005-Spring 2006 579_2and played through the Bach Prelude in C major. In the middle of that playthrough, the phone rang (G. calling me) which I ignored (see if you can hear it on the video. . .)

I shared the recording with my daughters yesterday which they were able to play and then wanted to upload it as an audio onto YouTube because transmission of the audio clip was too large for a few friends’ mailboxes which were bounced back to me as “undeliverable.”

This morning, after reading that YouTube only accepts video clips (with music in the background) I learned that I have something called I-Video on my Macbook Pro dock (duh!) So, I went through some photos and added enough of them so that the “soundtrack” of the Bach played all the way through, adding a final photo so that the last C-major chord could be heard.

Not being that technologically able, I managed to upload this video onto YouTube (twice!) set the viewing button to “public” and hope that it will play for anyone who might be curious to see what’s possible with a little time and preserverance. Thanks for listening/watching. . .

(In carrying out this little exercise, I am reminded once again how profoundly fortunate I am, surrounded by the love of this beautiful family.)

http://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=R5DJRW_vJYM

new things . . .

QUEEN ANNE'S LACE

It’s so much fun learning about new things from friends and vice versa, isn’t it? The other day, L. and I took a ride in the middle of a Thursday to a family-run farm nearby, about a half hour drive to Concord, MA. It was so much fun to show L. the unmarked little secret place to buy organic eggs on the honor system (she took a photo of the entrance with her camera.) and then to go back for a cup of hot dark coffee, and homemade scones in a new flavor: pineapple and coconut. L.’s eyes got big as we munched on the delicious scone. Then she put more into a bag for her family to eat later. We stocked up on Vermont Hubbardston blue cheese which is a chevre with a smoky blue cheese flavor that is heavenly when allowed to come to room temperature and it’s slightly runny. I have been known to eat a whole (small) wheel in the evening while eschewing dessert! It’s BETTER  than dessert!

Today, she wrote to me that the eggs were “eggs-traordinary”, the cheese was delicious as were the homemade scones. We have both been enjoying apple-mixberry pies and other fresh vegetables we found at the farmstand: eggplant, kale, salad greens. Going to the farmstand together also allowed for time to discuss our new joint endeavor called, “musical notes outreach,” a program for the elderly in nursing homes, assisted living residences and hospice. Our mission is simple as can be: “We want to make you happy by providing the sound of music.” Simple as that. L, because she has worked in the elder care community, knows activity directors in local venues as well as people in charge of palliative care in the neighborhood. Thanks to her efforts, we have two of our first bookings in December and are looking forward to introducing the program and seeing how people respond to it to see what they enjoy most. A menu of classical, Windham Hill and other songs will be offered.

When I played Bach’s Prelude in C major, both L. and I immediately agreed it would be a wonderful, simple piece to open each program. We might follow it by playing Charles Gounod’s “Ave Maria” overlay as a duet with the Bach Prelude. I’m thinking of playing the melody of the “Ave Maria” and then ask if they’d like to hum along while I play it again with the Bach Prelude accompanying it.  Our closing piece for each program will be “Devotion” by Liz Story. Along the way, there may be some Chopin Preludes, “Clair de Lune” by Debussy and some crowd pleasers like “You Raise Me Up” and some Windham Hill songs like “All For Us” that are simple and touching in their simplicity.

Here is a link to a wonderful Youtube clip by Bobby McFerrin singing the Bach Prelude with the audience singing the Gounod “Ave Maria” along with it. Just wonderful. I hope you’ll have time to play and enjoy it. Also included is a link to the song, “As For Us” which I’ve always loved, listening to it on a Windham Hill CD in the car. I couldn’t find the music score, but have jotted down the main progression of the piece by ear from the Youtube clip and am will include it in our programs.

So there is a lot of “new-ness” going on and it’s also a lot of fun. New friends, new music, new ways to play music. Stay tuned for how it goes in December with “musical notes!”

VICTOR

the sound of music . . .

Xmas 2005-Spring 2006 583_2_2This post is not about the movie, the play or the book, “Sound of Music.” What it is about is what happens to the human spirit when the sound of music is heard live, in person, in the presence of the music being made, heard and then falling away.

A few days ago, I received an email from some old friends of mine with whom we had lost touch. We would say we would get together soon but somehow never managed to. You know how that goes. In any case, they wrote to me to ask a favor. A neighbor of theirs was planning to celebrate an 88th birthday for their father who was visiting them from out of town. It turns out that 88 is also a magic number for the number of black and white keys on a piano keyboard. The birthday celebrant loved classical piano music, and my friends wondered whether I would play some pieces for him as his “birthday gift.” They also wanted to make a gift of some sort made out of old piano keys, which G., my husband who is a piano restorer, brought over to their house yesterday to play around with.

In the meantime, we had to hustle because it turns out that the favorite piece of this classical music lover was Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini.” If you are familiar with it, you’ll laugh out loud like I did because:  a) it’s very difficult; and b )it’s written for piano and orchestra. Undaunted, G. found a reduction (simplified) version of the score at the Holy Cross music library aided by a piano friend who is on the faculty there. Even with the score easier to see, it is still hard to read and play, given that it is written for five flats!

This is Tuesday and I’ve put together a tentative program according to the Juilliard model (baroque/classical/romantic) in that order: Bach, Scarlatti, Chopin and Rachmaninoff. Practicing yesterday, I noticed that although I hadn’t played or practiced in quite awhile, that I felt both stronger and freer while going through the pieces.

This afternoon, G. will tune the piano that hasn’t been serviced for awhile and meet the fellow who will be congratulated on Thursday evening, although he probably doesn’t have an inkling of all these surprises in store for his birthday.

Thursday evening: The party was a hit! Chuck spoke about the first time he heard the Rachmaninoff Rhapsodie on a Theme of Paganini when he was twenty years old in a church during World War II. His relating the story after I played the piece brought the experience full circle–and so I did a reprise of it for him. When I asked him if there was any other piece he’d like to hear, he shook his head and said that he was happy with the program and with hearing the Rachmaninoff piece live. Now, there’s a rarity–someone who is satified and knows it.

What a great treat to be able to play this music for him! I’m grateful for the invitation to participate.

“Basil Toutorsky” part 2 . . .

Basil and Maria Toutorsky, photograph courtesy of E. B.

Basil and Maria Toutorsky, photograph courtesy of E. B.

One of the first posts on this blog was about my piano teacher named Basil Toutorsky. He and his wife, Maria, were so kind to me from the time I was seven to about twelve years old. He took me under his wing and taught me piano technique, musicality and most of all, how caring humans can be towards others. Apparently, these values and qualities were imparted to other students who were also fortunate enough to meet Professor and Mrs. Toutorsky later in time. 

Living in this social media age, a few individuals commented about their own experiences with the Toutorskys. As a result, I shared a 26-page booklet of “Reminescences” about the Toutorskys that was sent to me from Johns Hopkins/Peabody Conservatory of Music about a decade ago when the Toutorsky Scholarship was still active. Now defunct, Johns Hopkins indicated they would still like to have contributions in Toutorsky’s name but that the monies might go for teacher salaries and the like rather than scholarships for budding pianists. Be that as it may (time moves on, doesn’t it?) a handful of us have been in touch with each other and shared fond memories of the Toutorskys.

One of them wrote to me recently and gave permission to include this remembrance:
Have I already shared with you how I collaborated with several friends to create a pleasant and safe walled garden behind the Toutorsky mansion for the Professor and Mrs. Toutorsky to enjoy, since by the time I met them, he was a bit unsteady on his feet and the neighborhood had deteriorated to become not all that safe for any vulnerable-looking older residents?

We had the existing garden walls raised and broken glass embedded in the top to make the space more secure, created formal garden beds and pea gravel footpaths, installed park beds, shade trees, bedding plants (perennials and annuals) spring bulbs, and even a central, lighted round garden pool with a gurgling jet fountain, complete with custom-cut limestone curbing stone. It was a lovely, peaceful, and safe haven for our dear friends which they both thoroughly enjoyed sharing with family members and friends.

When I was working outside Philadelphia and commuted back to my DC home on weekends, I usually stopped in to a well-stocked plant nursery along my route off of the Interstate to stock up with more plants for the Toutorsky’s walled garden. I recall how the toll gate attendants on I-95 near the PA-MD border always remarked on my ‘mobile garden’ because I had the back seat of my large company sedan loaded full with beautiful flowering specimens, such as Japanese anemones.

When I read this, I was touched by the breadth of affection this garden project represented for the Toutorskys when they were elderly. I’m thankful for the contributions this fellow and his friends made, way back then and also now, for relating it here. There may be so many more people scattered all over the globe with affectionate ties to the Professor and his wife. Truly marvelous, don’t you think . . . in the best sense of the word?

small wonders . . .

birthday tulips!Today, I was fiddling around with some photos in order to print some out and take along with me when I visit my daughter and her family in Minneapolis, a couple of weeks from now. What I had in mind was to print them out in smaller sizes, make a montage of them, print out the montage and frame it, thereby getting more images into one space.

On my HP printer instructions, it showed “contact sheet” as an option to print multiple small photos all lined up in rows. Not knowing how to input more than one photo at a time, I searched on online for help. Up popped various sites including ones for free software to make collages online, save and download them for printing. JUST what I didn’t know that I was searching for. So, a few minutes later, I downloaded “Smilebox” for a 7-day free trial ($3.+/month if you choose to subscribe afterwards.)

Much to my surprise, there were a myriad of collage formats to choose from–some marked “premium” which would be free during the 7-day trial. PLUS, my little collage could be set to MUSIC! ~ mine or theirs. I chose to upload the ukelele version of “somewhere over the rainbow” played by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. A piece of music that I uploaded for another collage was Steve Martin’s composition for banjo called “the great remember” in memory of Martin Short’s wife, Nancy. It’s a sweet little piece.

Anyhow, I’m excited about this little discovery and thought I’d mention it in a post today to share the first and second “pancakes” from this fun medium. And thanks to all the smiling faces in the collages for such good times that we have shared together!

Click here to see this small wonder that appeared out of the blue today! And here’s another . . .

Postscript: here is one that marries a poem by mary oliver with a prelude by Scriabin played by Yuja Wang.

bucket list . . .

piano music library

piano music library

I guess this term was coined along with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman’s movie called “The Bucket List,” which dramatized what they really wanted to experience before they kicked the bucket (aka “die”.) Since then, it’s been used a lot in different contexts and I noticed today in the newspaper that a sister graduating from college, delighted by her soldier brother’s surprise appearance said that she wanted to make a “bucket list” with him before he returns to duty in a couple of weeks.

So, making a list like this is not just for the elderly or even the middle-aged these days. For me, when I think about it, it’s not filled with things like “win the lottery” or “travel around the world” or even, “go to Hawaii.” It also wouldn’t include “buy a Corvette” or “own a sailboat.”

One of the things that was always on my bucket list (even before the phrase was coined) was a beautiful ebony Steinway grand piano. While I was a young mother, working two jobs in NYC and taking care of two infants, nothing was further from my mind, although I did manage to buy a brown baby grand piano, a “McPhail” piano that had a bright tone and a light action. That was the first piano I owned since I left home, leaving behind a well-worn Cable-Nelson spinet piano that I grew up with. So you can see why a Steinway ebony grand piano was truly out of reach for me at the time.

Fast forward to trading in the McPhail piano to a building contractor who put in the foundation for our greenhouse in Lexington when we renovated the house where the kids grew up. Eventually, I bought a Steinway, model A piano (reconditioned but not refinished) which I played and my daughter M. practiced on for many years, playing a Bach French Suite as musically as any pianist I’ve ever heard when she was in junior high school. The girls used to read and lie under the piano with our dog, Bridget, when I practiced. They still recall chamber music parties where a string quartet played Mozart in the family room while a piano trio read through Beethoven’s “Archduke” trio in the living room with the doors shut in between. Sometimes we would combine forces and play piano quintets, such as Schubert’s “Trout Quintet” and when we had a lot of players, we’d end up playing Mendelssohn’s Octet. It was so much fun for all concerned, players and listeners alike, not to mention the potluck food we feasted on afterwards with a few bottles of wine.

Fast forward some more to after the kids left home and I moved to where I live now. I traded in the Steinway “A’ for a Steinway “B” when I met my second husband, G. who rebuilt it. We named it “Victor” after the musician who had owned it previously. It has been and continues to be one of the finer instruments that have come through the shop. It used to be downstairs on the first floor where predictably, piano customers would happen upon it and want to buy it. So we hoisted it up to the third floor where we live, coming through the house from the outside deck. It sits in an alcove that enhances its sound without echoes.

"Victor" in the alcove

“Victor” in the alcove


So, you see, I’ve already got the best part of a bucket list I might have held secret. What I’ve been thinking about more recently, is repertoire or pieces I would like to learn as part of a “to-do” bucket list. They include Scarlatti sonatas (about two dozen of them), Bach Goldberg Variations, Rachmaninoff Preludes, some Scriabin and Chopin Etudes. Like that.

Still on the list is to write a women’s novel that will eventually become a classic (that part is out of my control but writing it first might help.) I’ve been working on shaping ideas into a plot for a long time. Recently, a new setting for the story has occurred to me that has renewed my optimism about getting back to work on it.

So, studying a challenging piano repertoire and writing a book I’ve been thinking about for a long time probably sound like a pretty boring bucket list to most folks. At least it doesn’t require loads of money to bring to fruition. It just requires self-discipline, dedication, creativity and time. That’s all, right?

What’s on your bucket list?