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Pauline Lerner

April 18, 2005 at 5:54 AM

There are pieces of music that I associate strongly with people who have been important to me. For instance, my mother loved Mozart's Symphony #40, Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony, and Brahms Concerto as played by Erica Morini on a record she had. I feel some connection with her when I hear these pieces. My mother and I did not have a good relationship and I have very few pleasant memories of her, so my musical connections with her are important to me. I can still see, in my mind's eye, my father sitting in the high backed chair in our living room, listening to music with his eyes almost closed and tears running down his cheek. He loved opera music, including the aria I Puggliaci (sp?) which he used to sing and mangle brutally, operas by Joe Green (Giuseppi Verde - sp?), Madame Butterfly as sung by Victoria de Angeles, Chopin's A Flat Major Polonaise, which he joked about but admired and enjoyed greatly. Certain folk or popular songs call one one or another particular song to mind -- Four Strong Winds (Ian and Sylvia), Bridge over Troubled Water, Today, and others. For a while, I dated a fellow who played cello and guitar very well. I associate him with Concerto para un Gentil Hombre (sp?), which we heard Christopher Parkening play in concert; Casal's recordings of the Bach Unaccompanied Cello Suites, which we listened to in shared silence with morning coffee and sunlight; and something by Philip Glass, which we disagreed about. The theme from Orfeo Negro and classic recordings of Ella Fitzgerald go with other men I've dated. Then there was the man I almost married. On our first date, we went to a concert and heard M's Italian Symphony. This man, who was very sentimental, saved his ticket from this concert. He was a music lover and singer, and many pieces of music that he sang or loved to listen to are "his" in my mind. When he started to lose his mind and I became his caretaker, "his" music represented something different. He always had trouble getting to sleep, and I used to play a CD with a collection of relaxing music for him. It almost always put him to sleep and, every time, he would wake up briefly during Fur Elise and ask me what it was. Although many of these people have been separated from me by death or break up of relationships, memories of them stay in me in the form of music.
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