Birthday Music

I remember, growing up, that on my birthday, my godmother would always call and sing to me.

Sweet, you say, and yes, it was … except she couldn’t sing!

One year, when she was in her eighties, she called and sang to me. Then, when she had finished and I’d thanked her, she said, “Oh, you’ll be so proud of me. Guess what I did.”

I couldn’t guess, so she told me: “I’ve signed up for voice lessons!”

Interesting, but I never heard any more about those lessons, and it was maybe a year or two after that that she went into her final decline with Alzheimer’s. So, the woman who had always regaled us with fascinating stories about her world travels, who loved to read aloud at the Lighthouse, and who spent many a Saturday afternoon engaged in fierce Scrabble games with my grandmother and me, was reduced first to, “So, what’s new and startling,” and then, when that final loop of conversation left her, to silence.

My husband set his cell phone to play “Happy Birthday” at midnight, so he was the first person to “play” me anything.

Then, my friend Winy, who is studying music in Malaysia, played it on her violin, followed by Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”. She just started playing in June, and maybe she was embarrassed by her lack of skill, but I sure enjoyed it.

My grandmother always used to find those electronic singing birthday cards. I loved my grandmother more than anything, but I hate those damn cards with a passion! To me, they sound like a large mosquito who has been given a microphone and an amplifier and told to sing for her supper. I just want to kill it, and, like mosquitoes, those cards never seem to die no matter what you do.

But I miss my grandmother, anyway.

I’ve often read about how certain music was composed and given as a gift to someone else. I wonder how it must have felt to receive the complete keyboard sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti as a wedding present, or how Clara Schumann felt each time she played the concerto her husband wrote for her, especially after his illness and death.

I have composed pieces for others through my Soul Essence project, and some have been for special occasions. I can, and have, composed for myself, too, but it’s not the same.

All the same, I finished learning the last movement of Beethoven’s “The Tempest” today. It may not have been composed for me, but since I was expecting to have to take several days to finish, to get to that last double bar and know that I can now play the entire work as it was intended, even if only in rough form, is a wonderful birthday present.

Tomorrow, I will begin the long and painstaking process of raising it from mere notes to art.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Family and Friends, music, piano, Special Days

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