Frederic Chopin, the Scherzo in B Minor, Opus 31

The French House, whose real name was Aydelotte Hall, was a long, low narrow cinderblock structure with two wings joined by a common lounge. Each wing had about twelve rooms on each of its two floors. The men lived on the ground floor; the women upstairs.

The rooms were long and narrow and divided by a wooden closet/bookshelf/closet divider which ran the length of the room  My first room abutted the boiler room and was nice and cozy for the most part. Unfortunately, the wooden divider between my room and the next did little to muffle sounds.

Brian, the guy next door had, like me, transferred from the same party dorm that I lived in the previous semester.  He was an affable soul–a self-taught polyglot–and so I thought he would be great to have next door. Unfortunately he was also a party animal. One night he stayed up until about two A.M. smoking dope and listening to Frank Zappa. To get back at him, the next morning around nine in the morning, I turned on Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at full volume and went off to eat breakfast. About a week later, I saw him hoicking boxes out of his room. I asked what he was doing, and he said he was moving back to our old dorm. When I expressed regrets, he mumbled something about the dorm being a boring place. But for me, it will always remain a paradise.

The charm, as I mentioned in an earlier post, lay in the number of really interesting people there. The day I moved in, I was greeted at the door by a tall, gangly kid with a mass of curly black hair rising skyward from his head. Even more striking, however, was that he wore a ski jacket and both his arms were swathed in plaster casts. “I’m Bennett!” he exclaimed. “And I live right here.” He indicated an open door, the large end room. I stuck my head in the door to have look and was horrified by the site. It was an absolute pig sty, with dirty underwear and clothes strewn about the floor.  Every inch of desk and shelf space sprouted a riot of paper, music scores, and half-eaten pots of yogurt. “It’s a bit of a mess, I’m afraid,” he said, but I haven’t been able to clean since I got these,” he said holding up his mantis-like appendages.

“Did you break them?” I asked.

“Oh, no,” he said. “Tendonitis.”

“What’s that,” I asked.

“It’s an inflammation of the tendons.”

“How did you get it?” I asked.

“I practiced too much.” He then told me he had come to I.U. to major in piano, but now, with his problem he was thinking of becoming a conductor. “How much did you practice?” I asked. “Oh, about 8 hours a day.”

Bennett was a year younger than me, and though a slob and an eccentric, he loved music, especially piano music, and we used to tell each other about pieces we liked or had discovered. Like me, he was a big fan of Horowitz, and he loved Chopin as well. One of Bennett’s favorite pieces was today’s work by Chopin, the Scherzo in B Minor, Opus 31. This piece has a certain demonic feel. It starts out with a low series of notes, almost drummed out like a call to attention. After that, there is a small explosion of intensity as Chopin states the theme. He returns back to the device used in the opening several times, changing the theme a little bit after each. Chopin then launches into a beautiful little waltz that sounds so sweet, lyrical and seductive. But he never stays with anything for too long. Later he changes to a grand, gushing romantic passage full of fire. Eventually he returns to the opening device a few more times, before restating the lush passage again and then rushes into an abrupt ending.

Bennett will reappear in my descriptions of the French House. He was there because like all musicians, he had an ear for languages as well and spoke French with a flourish. But what I liked best about him, apart from his love of music, was his ability to articulate his neuroses. Now I am as neurotic as the next person, but Bennett had the ability to articulate (or maybe it was just the inability to censor) every obsessive thought that came into his head. He was always ranting about something, a piece of music, a girl, his messy room, some book or score he was studying. It was great. In a funny kind of way, it made me feel less of an oddball than it was my wont to consider myself. Here was a peer who was at least as obsessive about things as I, if not more.

Chopin Biography

Buy MP3 or buy CD of Chopin’s Scherzo in B Minor, Opus 31


About kurtnemes
Writer and Education Professional. Specialties include Ethics, Personal Memoir, Classical music, Tai Chi, Stress Reduction, Meditation, Coping, Classical Music, Aging, Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity (& what interests me.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: