Memories of Friends and Music

April 7, 2020

I have a friend named Mickey. She was a college friend and that was a very long time ago. During the AIDs epidemic, she lost her son and that puts her in a very specific, special category to me because I don’t know anyone else who has lost a child. Her child was 25 or so, and all his friends died also so there were all those mothers. The reason I bring her up is because I was talking to her a few days ago and she was very, very upset because this pandemic brings back all the horrible memories of her son’s death and I hadn’t thought that before talking to her. I’m sure that’s true for everybody who suffered losses during the AIDs epidemic, although the response to it was quite different this time around. So she’s very special to me because she’s in that awful position.

The thing that makes me smile, among many things, is a moment in the Brahms second piano concerto when there’s this tremendous build up of the pianist and the orchestra and then suddenly, something happens and it’s just exquisite. And wherever I am, if I hear that piece, I have to stop and wait for that moment.

I asked a musicologist about it: “Why is that moment so special?” and he said, “Oh, it’s because it switches from a D minor to a D major,” as if that explains it. It tells me something but it doesn’t tell me why it just moves me so. That’s the special thing that always makes me smile.

I got into classical music when I went to college. Not so much before, although I played piano for many years. I listened to the radio from time to time, then after college, I married someone who played the piano, and played the piano just so well. He had been playing a lot Chamber music and I thought I could do that too but I couldn’t. I thought the cellist wasn’t doing very much in his Chamber group so I took up the cello instead, so now I can play all the string quartets. It’s a big part of my life now. I guess it was really when I got married that it became a bigger part.

We went to a lot of concerts and I continue that. Nowadays, in the old days before the virus, I would put things down in the calendar and 6:00 comes around and I’d think, “I’m 87! Do I want to get on the bus and a subway and go to a concert tonight? I don’t think so!” So I don’t go so much anymore.