When I was in junior high school a new family joined our church, First Lutheran, in Muskogee, OK.. They quickly made friends with my parents and this friendship continued until recently between my Dad and his best friend, who both survived their wives. (My Dad’s friend recently went on to his reward and rejoined his wife. It was surely like losing family members.)
My mom’s new best friend became my “other mother.” My other mother was originally from Shawnee, Oklahoma, had a degree in piano from Michigan (!), and was a first class musician. Her “best of everything for my little girl” father bought her a Steinway piano which she allowed me to thump around on. I now know that she surely coached my mother in the care and feeding of a child who seemed to insist on being a musician. She actually loaned me her box set of the Toscanini/NBC symphony recordings of the the Beethoven symphonies. This was even more amazing because my record playing equipment was suspect….
I decided to listen to them in order, just because. I remember thinking when I got to the scherzo movement of the fifth, hmmm he is still going dit dit dit dah, only in 3/4…..whoa there’s a fugue. (Other Mother had explained fugues, being a fine organist as well.) And then the most amazing crescendo into the fifth movement. I was on cloud nine. To this day I can’t imagine what it must have been like hearing that crescendo at the premier. It would have to make some sort of top ten list of crescendos. (Crescendo’s had not been around that long as these things go.) For me it will always be a mountain top moment.
Sometime not long after I figured out that I was going to have to live a life of music. It did not matter how well or if it worked out… It still doesn’t. Which is a good thing, since I have not had a storybook musical life or career. I have had to come to terms with being a really good example of myself and not a cultural icon. Ah well.
I know that some of my musician friends are thinking about crying as they consider this and some of my non-musician friends can make no sense of it at all. But, to all of my former students, my family, and my musical colleagues: It was Beethoven’s fault. And Mrs. James. And Mr. Yadon and Mr. Romine and Jerry Huffer and Terry Segress and Dr. James Jurrens. Oh, and, bless his heart, Skip Klingman. And and and…. I am leaving others out. (I hope you give them the credit for what I have done will and forgive ME when I have fallen short.) Lots of teachers and friends helped me along the way. I thank God for each and every one of them. They helped me learn to make music, to live, and to manage to live the artistic life while maintaining a semblance of sanity. It has been a wild ride so far and I can’t see that this will change any time soon. Second star to the right and straight on till morning…… Who knows what adventure awaits?