Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Great Masters

The Great Masters - Art or Music?

I chose music.

As a child I hated going to piano lessons. It was my dread for years between the ages of ten to fourteen, when I convinced my father that I really needed to concentrate on my ‘O’ levels and leave classical music out for a while. The problem was the teacher. A horrid, fat man with a tobacco stained moustache who taught his pupils in a small, stuffy, upstairs room in his unwelcoming house. Looking back, he reminds me of a Stephen King character, from Needful Things, I think. The air was always thick with his constant cigar smoke. I didn’t like his podgy fingers putting mine on the right keys and I didn’t like him leaning over me to scribble instructions on my music with his thick pencil. I never read them and got told off every week for ignoring his notes. I was constantly in trouble for not practising enough and not doing my theory homework. I managed to get a few grades, somehow.

Russ Conway started it. I loved hearing him on the radio playing favourites like Side Saddle and China Tea. There was always a piano in our pubs and I wanted to play like Russ. I was delighted when at age seven my hands could just about span an octave, which meant I was ready to learn. At first it was good and I soon played short melodies and nursery rhyme tunes. By the time I was ten, I’d had enough, but wasn’t allowed to leave. I would try anything to get out of going. At this time my lesson was on a Saturday morning and I wouldn’t mention it, in the hope that both my parents would forget and no one would take me. It never happened. Pleas to pack it in were dismissed as I was told I would regret it if I didn’t carry on. They weren’t sitting at an upright piano in that smelly, foggy room for an hour. I was running out of excuses for not doing the music prep as set out. The teacher and I had a mutual dislike of each other. Escape finally came when I entered fourth year at school and the focus was on GCE exams and in some subjects, CSE projects. I rejoiced in being free from the dreadful man and played the piano even more for my own enjoyment.


Fast forward about three years. I began lessons again. I found a music teacher I could get on with. My piano world became filled with the music of the great masters, Chopin, Beethoven and my favourite, Mozart. I liked to play contemporary composers, too, Scott Joplin and George Gershwin.

I still have a piano, although I don’t play it very often. I’ve always encouraged my children and will do the same with my grandchildren. I’m thankful for the music skills that piano lessons gave me. Even those hours with the horrid man weren’t entirely wasted. I am well taught but certainly not musically talented. I just wish I could play Russ Conway stuff – it still eludes me.

And appropriately, just days away from Mozart's birthday, I found this poem, written by the very talented Garrison Keillor.

 
Birthday Poem for Mozart

 When Mozart was three, he began to play the clavier;
      When he was five, he began to compose;
      When he was ten, already launched on his career,
      He began to worry about his hair and clothes.
     “Am I cool?” he wondered. “Is this the wig I should be wearing
      Or should I have gotten the brunette?
      Are these kneebritches baggy? Why is everyone staring?
      I wonder if they’ll like my new quartet.”
     Even a genius is full of doubts
      About his looks and the future and whether the third movement should’ve been rhythm,
      And though the audience stands and claps and shouts
      Bravo, he wonders if anyone would like to go have a drink with him?

He and his wife Constanza were not so astute
      When it came to money. No, not them.
      So after he’d finished writing The Magic Flute
      He had to get busy on the Requiem.
      He had to pay for their extravagances
      So his work was never done.
      Serenades and German Dances
      And the Piano Concerto No. 21
      To pay for clothes and wine and gelati
      And the expense of yet one more infant he
      Composed the Exsultate Jubilate
      And the Jupiter Symphony.
      Had he and Mrs. Mozart avoided going in debt
      And been cautious and frugal,
      He might’ve written on small motet
      And maybe a concerto for bugle.

 Thank you, Mozart, for being so prolific
      And by the way your hair looks terrific.  
    
                                           Garrison Keillor    


Thanks for reading, Pam xhday Poem for Mozart

When Mozart was three, he began to play the clavier;
When he was five, he began to compose;
When he was ten, already launched on his career,
He began to worry about his hair and clothes.
“Am I cool?” he wondered. “Is this the wig I should be wearing
Or should I have gotten the brunette?
Are these kneebritches baggy? Why is everyone staring?
I wonder if they’ll like my new quartet.”
Even a genius is full of doubts
About his looks and the future and whether the third movement should’ve been rhythm,
And though the audience stands and claps and shouts
Bravo, he wonders if anyone would like to go have a drink with him?
He and his wife Constanza were not so astute
When it came to money. No, not them.
So after he’d finished writing The Magic Flute
He had to get busy on the Requiem.
He had to pay for their extravagances
So his work was never done.
Serenades and German Dances
And the Piano Concerto No. 21
To pay for clothes and wine and gelati
And the expense of yet one more infant he
Composed the Exsultate Jubilate
And the Jupiter Symphony.
Had he and Mrs. Mozart avoided going in debt
And been cautious and frugal,
He might’ve written on small motet
And maybe a concerto for bugle.
Thank you, Mozart, for being so prolific
And by the way you
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