Sunday, July 11, 2010
My Dad the Listener
In my post on Vincent DeRosa I said I had grown up listening to his recording of the Bach Partita with Laurendo Almeida. My father was the one who found and bought that album and played it frequently in our living room. My dad was an interested collector of LPs and bought a surprisingly wide variety of music, I realize in retrospect. He loved classical music, but also Broadway musicals and band music. We had a recording of every Sousa march. He was adventurous in his listening: he bought and repeatedly listened to Ives symphonies, Leonard Bernstein, and other modern composers. He purchased a recording of Mahler songs at a time when Mahler was rarely performed. I never realized how unusual this was until I got to college (Eastman) and found out that hardly anyone was familiar with Ives Symphony #2.
Our stereo, which he was very proud of, was two gigantic pieces of furniture, one large enough to be used as a buffet table, and the other, which was the second speaker, half as big. You lifted the top lid of the main component to reveal the radio and record player. My dad, who was an accountant, would come home from work and nearly always spend some time listening to records. In later years her got a pair of headphones, but when I was in junior high and high school, I often went to sleep to the sounds of Bach or Rodgers & Hammerstein floating up the stairs.
My father came from a family that enjoyed music. He and his two brothers all played instruments. My dad played both cello and baritone. All three brothers had fine signing voices as well. And, my mother was a fine pianist. So with all this music it was a given that my siblings and I would play instruments. When I started trumpet in 6th grade my dad would often practice with me on his brother's old trumpet. This was not only an incentive to practice, it gave me an early realization of the joy of playing with others.
My father was an eclectic listener. I don't remember ever hearing him say that he didn't care for a particular piece or composer. Because of this -- his attitude and all the music he played -- I went off to music school with an open mind about listening. I wasn't familiar with many of the standards of classical literature, but I was ready to listen to anything.