A welcome to readers
As a resident of this planet for more than four fifths of a century, I have enjoyed both successes and disappointments in a wide variety of vocations, avocations, and life experiences. This blog satisfies my desire to share some thoughts and observations--trenchant and prosaic--with those who are searching for diversions which are interesting, poignant and occasionally funny. I also plan to share recommendations about good/great movies I've watched and books and articles which I've found particularly mind-opening, entertaining, instructive. In addition, I can't pass up the opportunity to reflect publicly on how I am experiencing the so-called Golden Years. Write anytime:
Thursday, February 28, 2013
THE PASSING OF A CHILDHOOD HERO
Yesterday, one of my earliest heroes died. Van Cliburn was the youngest person (age 23) ever to win the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow, the same year I graduated from college. This was the year I also listened to Saint Saens Third Symphony for Orchestra and Organ for the first time and wept copious tears for its sheer beauty (the piece was later a favorite of my former parents-in-law). And 1958 was just a three years after I was first swept away by the last movement of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, once again attended by tears.
Maybe what moved me so much was that I was roughly the same age as Van Cliburn when he won the prize--as an American (for the first time) and as the youngest pianist ever, in 1958. I was finishing college; he had accomplished a miracle. I was humbled by his feat, awed by his talent and self-discipline, and vaguely jealous of his popularity and almost "rock star" fame. At the time, I saw
what an incredible distance there was between what he had already accomplished and what might be possible for me...ever...in any field.
This gave me food for thought for a lot of years. Now, as I read of his death, I have grown beyond youthful envy: he's gone, I'm not, and there is much more left for me to do, but probably not at the keyboard. My life performance has been played at a different tempo from his, in different keys, and in wildly different concert halls with mixed reviews, and no prizes yet. But I plan to play on in my own way, trying new melodies, techniques and venues, driven no more by envy or despair--but only by hope and love for those around me.
Here are two selections of music you might enjoy, the pieces Van Cliburn played at the competition. The first is Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto played by the master himself; the second piece he also played at the competition, Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto. However, this rendition is performed by Olga Kern, whose playing was introduced to me by Elizabeth Van Ingen. Van Cliburn would certainly have approved of the way Kern plays from her soul with passion and deep feeling. I think she's great.
Just click on the photo.