wooden spoons

Why is it that when Bach employs a diminished chord, it makes sense, and when Mendelssohn does it, I want to throw a chair through a plate glass window?  Probably has something to do repressed Mendelssohn trauma (RMT).   Now, that’s  a good blog title!

Chorales 2 and 3 came and went over the last two days, the latter marking a week since we moved in our 2nd floor (3rd floor in the US) apartment at Bachstrasse 52.

We had wandered the Musikviertel (music quarter) during our visit in April, while taking in as much of the city on foot that we could.  K-ru is loosely divided by quadrant, similar to how D.C. is divided with the Capitol building at its center, and North, East, and South Capitol Streets, and Independence, Constitution and the National Mall sprawling out in their respective directions. Here, the “center” of town is das Schloss – the palace of Karl, rebuilt after the war’s desolation – and the areas north, south, east and west are so named.


were the ‘A’ in ‘Weststadt’

In the Weststadt, the neighborhoods north of the main drag (the Kaiserallee) pay homage to the great musical traditions of Germany.  We live on Bach Street, at the corner of Gluck Street. About a block down the way is Brahms Square. In the adjoining neighborhood, are streets named for Schumann, Schubert, Mozart, Beethoven, von Weber, and Handel.  Appropriate, no?  It gets better/worse – north of us, the streets are named for characters in Wagner operas.  I have yet to come across Mendelssohnstrasse.

The fingering for Chorales 2 and 3 were marked by my piano teacher at Southern Miss – Dr. Dana Ragsdale. Dana Rags died just over a year ago. She was sweet, but tough, and would punch me in the shoulder and cackle when I screwed up in lessons wondering aloud if I would ever “get it right!” photo-3

A few years after graduation, we found ourselves together at the Mahogany Bar in Hattiesburg with a crowd of other people.  When I related the get-it-right knuckle sandwich stories, her face scrunched with worry. “I hope I didn’t hurt you…” she said, genuinely concerned. I could have (and probably did) kiss her face.  I’ve found that kick in the ass (or a punch in the shoulder) was a solid wake-up call, if not an outright motivator.  My wife tells the stories of her mother looking over her shoulder brandishing a wooden spoon and a hiked eyebrow as incentive to continue practicing piano. I probably could have benefitted from a few more wooden spoons in my own musical past.


I’m still practicing, Dr. Ragsdale.


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