My Music

I’ve reported several times in this blog that I knew by age six that I was born to write. I’ve also mentioned my various attempts to escape that fate. The most serious among those efforts was my foray into music.

I had shown a strong attraction for music from my earliest childhood. During grammar school, I taught myself to read music and to play the piano at school, using the pianos available there. I also dabbled in theater and considered being an actor. In fact, my first year at the University of California, Berkeley, was with theater as a major. But by my sophomore year, I was settled into music. I had decided I was a composer. Using money earned from part-time jobs, I bought my first piano, an ancient upright missing some keys.

Four years later, I took my BA in music. The study of languages consumed me for several years, but I kept up with music, playing the piano regularly and experimenting with composition.

Some years later, I tangled with church music. I established and ran two Catholic church folk groups made up of singers, guitars, flute, and clarinet for whom I did arrangements and composed folk hymns. That led to two masses I wrote for a combined force of musicians including choir, folk singers, guitars, organ, tympani, flute, and clarinet.

Both masses were very successful and were performed after I left the parish. For all I know, they may even be in use now.

Over time, my devotion to foreign languages and, most important, writing drew me away from music. But I always found time to play the piano and to listen to what soon became a vast collection of recordings. Then, some years ago, I subscribed with my oldest daughter to the dance season performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. We always arrived early enough to have an after-dinner drink in the cocktail lounge. Because it was so early in the evening, the piano player for the lounge had not yet arrived. I can’t resist pianos, so I had to try the grand piano provided to entertain the patrons.

More next time.

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