A poetic gift of music

It occurs to me that as part of my poetry gratitude series, I shouldn’t neglect the gift of music that I’ve received during my life. From early childhood, I was immersed in classical music. My mother was a piano teacher, and when I was five, she discovered that I was endowed with absolute pitch, a kind of tonal memory. From that time, she decided to develop my musical talent.

My mother was my first piano teacher; a few years later, she sent me for lessons to a wonderful woman in town named Mrs. Brown, whom I came to think of as a second mother. My piano studies continued at Louisiana State University and later, the Eastman School of Music.

Throughout my childhood and adolescence, my mother took me to concerts – we were fortunate that so many top-tier pianists, cellists, and violinists toured through my hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana, which was also blessed with an orchestra. And now, I’m ecstatic to live in a large city with so many opportunities to hear great music and performers.

For me as a poet, music and poetic language are intertwined, and although there are perhaps not exact equivalents between the two, my music background affects the way I experience sound, timbre, and rhythm in poetry. Although ultimately I didn’t make music a career, I’m grateful to have been given the gift of music by my mother and by so many wonderful teachers along the way.

At some point in the future, I might share links to recordings of some of my musical loves. For now, here’s a link to Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola (first two movements). I never tire of hearing this work. What a gift!

Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman perform with the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Zubin Mehta

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