Tuesday, July 12, 2005

A wonderful day of chamber music and its backstory:

I was once invited to travel deep into Long Island for a day of playing Beethoven's Septet and Schubert's Octet. We spent a few hours rehearsing and then reading through each piece, with a nice break for lunch and schmoozing in between. Beethoven's Septet is a fine piece. When Schubert wrote his Octet, he intended to one-up Beethoven's Septet, and in fact he produced one of the most sublime accomplishments of classical music.

We were hosted by a violist and her family. Her father had called to ask me to play the bassoon parts, and he picked me up at the train station. We were all teenage performers or in our early twenties, decent amateurs, good well enough to immerse outselves in a wonderful musical experience.

Since I knew the violist - definitely a moody young woman - a little better than the other musicians, I discovered during the day what was going on. At that moment, she had an incredible crush on a french horn player. She wanted an opportunity to be near him, perhaps even, dare she dare it? To speak to him. Being frank with her father, she prevailed upon him to create this musicaliad to lure the horn player. And so there we were.

In fact she was tongue-tied in his presence. She did not sit particularly near him while we were playing, and when we were chatting she tended to absent herself rather than face him, to the annoyance and frustration of her parents, who had put a lot of effort into organizing, chauffering, providing the food, and so on.

That's how I got to play these two pieces in one day, a marvelous experience no matter how bizarrely it came about.

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