Apropos of nothing

Not long after my mother moved to New York, maybe in September, I got an excited phone call from her. Our favorite pianist, Mitsuko Uchida, would be playing Carnegie Hall in February. She wanted to get tickets for us to go, since I had been planning to come visit in February.
Once I got news that she’d gotten tickets, I made a mental note to find out what exactly she’d be playing; I like to be familiar with music before I see it performed. It was not until the new year that I finally managed to research the pieces she’d play and then download them. One recording, of Schumann’s davidsbundlertanze, was her playing, but for the rest I purposely got other people’s interpretations.
Listening to these pieces of music, I realized that I have listened to very little music, particularly instrumental music, in the years following my father’s death. I had taken to listening to podcasts of interesting talk radio or my favorite guilty pleasure, the Archers. It was a retreat, I see now, from the way in which some music invites you deeper into your thoughts. I shied away from it, first out of necessity, but later, as these things will happen, out of habit. For although my father’s absence is as keenly felt as it ever was, it has at least become something that I can comfortably acknowledge without having to quell massive revolt as my mind struggles to catch up with reality.
It was a great pleasure, then, to listen to music again and to allow my thoughts to drift along with it.
The greater pleasure was yet to come! On February 11, with Baki in my under my cousin Elaine and uncle Wei’s watchful eyes, my mother and I went to the concert. My mother had lost the tickets that very day, of course, but with the help of the box office  we were able to resurrect them. Then it was in to the heavenly space that is Carnegie Hall, with its honey colored light and a great hum if excitement as everyone settled down to what we all knew would be an unforgettable evening. Coughs were stifled nervously, or quelled by Ricola cough drops provided by the bucket on the stairs outside. And then she came out, bowed, and took a seat at the piano. She started by playing a Beethoven sonata. I was immediately overcome and I wept from the first note to the last, as wave after wave of the sheer beauty of it all washed over me.
As a mother, there are very few times when I can focus entirely on any one thing, but her playing that night obliterated all other thoughts and for a while all there was in the world was the music.
I am listening to a recording of her now, playing Schubert, a favorite of mine. My father used to give me hard time for liking a composer that he considered a bit dull (his taste ran more to Sibelius, Wagner, and Saint Saiens). I usually responded that I had always found it odd that his favorite fish was trout (I’ll take a wing of skate any day).

One thought on “Apropos of nothing

  1. >Uchida! I love her, too. I envy you this concert. My best to you and your mother. I think of you both, and your father, often. I hope someday to meet your son.Maureen

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