Once more, with feeling!
Guess what I did this morning?
I played the piano.
That might sound like a simple thing, but… if you peruse back through these archives enough, you will come to realize that it is quite an occasion.
You see, I was rooting through the attic today, digging out some dishes that my older sister had stored here. As I crawled through the darkness, looking for boxes marked “Depression Glass”, I found an open box with a blue plastic binder stuffed in the top. I pulled it out, leaned back toward the light filtering in from the attic door, and saw my name written on a file label stuck to the front.
I knew immediately what I had found. My old sheet music binder!
I set it aside, and fished out the rest of the boxes for my sister. Then, just before I closed the small attic door, I grabbed the binder and tucked it under my arm. I could almost hear the melodies drifting out of it already! All the songs I used to play by memory, saved here with all my old handwritten notes and reminders.
I went downstairs and sat at the piano, and opened up the folder. It still has the note in the front from my piano teacher, making note of eight songs which were to be played at my own private senior recital (which never happened).
The first pages of sheet music are actually copies, and for some reason the title is cut off. I believe that this piece is “Invention No. 14 in B-Flat Major” by Johann Sebastian Bach, Allegro… very lovely.
The next is a song by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, called Solfeggietto. An infamous little piece that I once played at a recital, nearly double the speed it was supposed to be played. My teacher said I nearly set the keyboard on fire with that one.
I flipped to the third piece, and smiled as I remembered the haunting Prelude in E Minor, Opus 28. No. 4 by Chopin. I instantly fell in love with this music when I was selecting a new recital piece all those years ago. Every time I played it, I could imagine Chopin playing the same notes, making them ring through the old monastery in Majorca that he was staying in at the time, in 1839. There was something so meloncholy about this melody… it almost seemed too much for a teenage girl to tackle, with any sense of what it really was trying to convey.
The fourth piece is a light, airy little tune by Homer Nearing, called “Falling Leaves”. At the time, this was more of an ‘intermission’ song than anything. Something to break apart the heavy classical songs I favored, with something a little less demanding on the ears.
There there is the Waltz in A Minor by Chopin. It never struck me as the bright, rousing waltzes that were played at glittering galas. Rather, it too has a bittersweet ring to it… as if this is simply the memory of a grand waltz once danced, being recalled in the grainy light of a fading dream. Another reason I adored it.
Schubert’s “Serenade” is the next. I have to say that this is probably one of my favorite songs I have ever learned. It can be played with all sorts of emotions, and the notes seem to form perfectly around whatever I am feeling at the time.
Then there is the fourteen page Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven, Op. 49, No. 2. The beast of all songs I’ve ever learned. It took me the better part of a year to learn this song, and although it was never one of my true favorites… once you’ve played a fourteen page Beethoven song, you feel such an amazing sense of accomplishment. After I memorized this one, my teacher allowed me to leave the basement studio of her house, go upstairs, and play this on her mirror black concert grand piano that she had shipped over from Germany.
At last, another Chopin piece. Valse, Op. 70 No. 2. As I go through my songs, I see how much I leaned toward the languid melodies… always tinged with a bit of dramatic sadness. They were always so much more challenging than the ‘tried and trues’ of piano lessons, like Fur Elise. Come to think of it, I specifically never wanted to learn Fur Elise, simply because everyone else already had.
There are many other songs, but these… these are *my* songs. I sat down today, and was astonished to find that I remembered far more than I would have wagered on. And for the first time in many, many years… I felt that same excitement at thinking “I might even polish these up to perfection again”. I even got a little twinge of anticipation at perhaps playing them for my family after so many years.
So, yes… a dig through the attic gave renewed life to my past as a mistress of the piano. Makes me realize how we can find priceless treasures in the most unexpected places, if we just open our hearts and let it happen.