The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: It’s Mother’s Day. What piece of music would you perform or play for your Mom today? I choose a Chopin waltz for mine.

May 12, 2013
14 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is Mother’s Day in the U.S.

So it is a fitting time to consider what music you would make and what music you would play to give your Mom as a gift.

It comes to mind because a couple of months ago, The Ear lost his Mom (below). She was 91, and had, as a red-headed and ever-resourceful War Bride for World War II, lived a long, good and quietly adventurous life with much spirit, good humor and boundless energy, despite various setbacks.

Gladys Stockinger

She also set me on the path to classical music – to making it and appreciating it – even though she herself was not especially musical except to sing hymns in church and  ballades, show tunes and ditties in piano bars.

Way back when, my sister said she wanted to go take piano lessons and I asked if I could too. Mom said yes. My sister stopped; I kept going.

piano keys

With a few intervals, some big and some small. those lessons that started at age 8 continued with right up until the present and will do so well into the future.

When I would visit Mom in her  later years, we would go to a club house near the retirement community where she lived in Phoenix and I would play some of her favorite pieces. It was always a treat for her. She would just relax and lean back and smile in enjoyment. The pleasure she had given me was returned, and for her, everything had gone round and come home.

Chopin (below) was always her favorite. Probably because he was also mine.

Chopinphoto

So when I wanted to attend the legendary all-Chopin recital in Carnegie Hall by Arthur Rubinstein (below top) in 1961, she got the tickets –- which ended up being ON-STAGE tickets so I could see The Master play Chopin from maybe 20 feet away. (Below bottom is the view of Carnegie Hall FROM the main stage after its great renovation.)

Arthur Rubinstein

carnegiehallstage

Anyway, I miss Mom, more than I let on. But I keep her and my memories of her in my heart –- and I often think of her when I am at the keyboard, especially whenever I am playing Chopin. Which is often, sometimes daily.

I know she had a favorite Chopin piece. Probably because it was a favorite of mine, and I could play it for her pretty well. And without fail, she was proud and pleased.

That’s how Moms are.

And so in memory of all the pleasure she gave me through music, and all the caring she lavished on me in so many ways, I am posting a performance that set the standard for both me and her.

It is one of the greatest pieces by a great composer and played by a great pianist and great musician.

Here in a YouTube video is Chopin’s soulful Waltz in C-sharp Minor, Op. 64, No. 2, played by Arthur Rubinstein, first in an older recording and then in one, with music to follow, that is closer to the version we heard together.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

I loved you then. I love you still. I will always love you and never forget you.

 


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