Melancholia and Depression with Ellington, Brahms, Chopin and Baudelaire

I’ve been writing a lot about depression this month. After all, I’m on vacation, and what could be a more refreshing topic? Surprisingly enough, I came on the vacation–in the Hudson Valley north of New York City–for the month of June with my wife to do nothing but write.

So first I need to apologize to my fellow bloggers and commentators who follow the Musical Almanac. After April’s A-Z challenges and posting twice a week for several years I needed a break. Then I need to explain why I’m choosing to write about depression.

In 2012, my best friend of 35 years, died of a brain tumor. My dad died in the Fall of 2011 following mom who passed in 2008. They were 96 and 92 respectively, and though it was a big loss, we knew it was coming so it wasn’t a shock. David’s death, on the other hand, came completely out of the blue. My wife and I had spent a week with him in Rome in August of 2010 for our honeymoon. His partner of some 30 years, Gianfraco, hailed from Ischia off the coast of Naples, Italy, and as a present, he let us stay in his apartment in his villa on the island in his mountainside home town of Buonapane overlooking the Mediterranean.

We saw David through the fall of 2010 and had dinner at him apartment in DC, in February. About a month later, one of our mutual friends who worked with David, called to say David was in the hospital and had just undergone a brainscan which revealed an egg-sized tumor deep in his brain. It was inoperable, chemo was brutal and ineffective, and he died 8 months later.

In grad school where we met, we became fast friends, sharing a love of languages, food, classical and world music. He graduated in 1979 and got a job at the university of Algiers teaching English. He sent word that he could get me a job in Algeria, too. So I joined him. From there I moved to Naples, Italy and was able to find him a position at the university there. He met Gianfranco in Naples and I met Judy, and we all returned to the States in the early 1980 to go back to college. I left with another masters and moved to the DC area first and got him a job at the University of Maryland. We were close for years and he was a good uncle to my two daughters. A gourmet cook and avid pickler, we alway loved going to his house for dinner, drinking wonderful wine, and listening to some new piece of music he had discovered. His musical tastes were eclectic and he introduced me to Bruckner, Ives, Ute Lemper, Neapolitan music, and West African Grillo music.

When he died, I was lost. He was my best and oldest male friend. At work, people commiserated but not in the way one does when a parent dies. But David was as close as any sibling or parent, and he left a hole in me. That started on down the path to another depressive episode, which lasted for almost two years.

So I’ve come on this writer’s vacation to begin writing a book about how I made it through those two years and what finally brought me out.

So today, I’m posting some pieces that bring up melancholic thoughts, or ones which I used to listen to when I was depressed. Please let me know what you think. I don’t really want to bum anyone out, but I want to share with people my struggle with depression to show that it can strike anyone and there are quite effective methods to fight it. There is so much stigma about depression, that I know many people don’t seek help when it strikes. Men are especially susceptible to those thoughts as we think that talking about our emotions is a sign of weakness. Well, I’m ready to talk and I hope it helps some people get the help they need to conquer what the french poet Charles Baudelaire called “Le Cafard,” (The Cockroach) as you can hear in this poem, “La Destruction”:

(Speaking about a Demon)
« Parfois il prend, sachant mon grand amour de l’Art,
La forme de la plus séduisante des femmes,
Et, sous de spécieux prétextes de cafard,
Accoutume ma lèvre à des philtres infâmes. »

Finally, I have to play the second movement of Brahm’s Violin Concerto. I discovered it in high school, when, a face full of acne, voice cracking, and awkward romantically around girls, I used to get the blues quite a bit. I would drown my sorrow listening to this piece repeatedly while knocking back shots of tequila and calling random numbers on the phone in the hopes I could find a sympathetic soul to talk to.

Johannes Brahms: Symphony Number Three in F Major

I listened to Brahms’ Symphony Number 3 the other day. I couldn’t remember the last time I had listened to it, which astounded me, because it has one of the most beautiful and stirring movements of any piece of music I know. I am referring to the third movement, marked “poco allegro.” The entire symphony is masterfully orchestrated, but in the third movement Brahms really managed to use every instrument to evoke such strong emotions. It is a quite, meditative movement, which some might consider a bit sad. But it has a flowing, lyrical quality to it that really is sublime.

I first heard it back in 1975, and can just picture myself sitting in my dorm room listening to this and feeling sorry for myself. And now as I listen to it again, I feel those same emotions welling back up. Is that bad? So many people hurt and don’t acknowledge it and shove their pain down to get on with their lives. Sooner or later, however, it will bubble up and then they will explode, have a stress related illness, hurt someone, or their beloved will leave because they’ve become so shut down.

So don’t be afraid of sad music. It can be as therapeutic for you as it was for the composer who wrote it.

For me, I have strong association with Brahm’s symphonies and death. Why? Because during the spring of 1975, when I was living in the French House and had become taken with all of Brahm’s symphonies, my father’s best friend died. We called him Uncle Steve, though he wasn’t our uncle at all. But he and my father had grown up together during the Great Depression and they had worked together for nearly 30 years in the same factory in South Bend, Indiana.

In my youth, no one ever taught me how to deal with the death. Oh, I had been to my share of funerals, which, in my family’s tradition, consisted of open-casket viewings, a trip in the cortege to the cemetery, and afterwards, a large meal. When we viewed the body, however, most adults stood around stoically and discussion was limited usually whether or not the person looked natural or how death had come.

When paternal grandmother died, my father went up and gave her a final kiss before they closed the lid. I think my older brother, Ken, later remarked on how odd that was. Later during the church service, my father broke down and wept.

For us kids, the scores of cousins on either side of my father’s Hungarian and mother’s Belgian extended families, a funeral was a chance to get together and play, tell jokes and otherwise run rampant. I remember after my paternal grandfather’s funeral playing hide and seek in the church above the basement where the meal was being held. The reverend came up and told us to stop. Maybe this just goes to show how one’s developmental age only makes one able to process certain concepts and emotions. Unless the child was close to the adult who died, which wasn’t the case with my father’s parents, then the grieving process might not even be relevant.

For example, how many children are able to understand the concept of finality and irrevocable loss? Still, I remember having a recurring, disturbing dream for many years in which I felt a sense of dread as I saw myself approaching my grandfather’s bier. These dreams certainly were exacerbated by one funeral I attended as a young boy, which did shock me.

My father had a step cousin who had a son. I had never met the son, so I did not think anything of it one day when my father announced that he and I were going to the son’s funeral. When we got to the funeral home, however, I was shocked to see that the body in the casket was no larger than my own. He was my age-about eight. I distinctly remember being freaked out as my father took me up to kneel beside the casket and say a prayer. The undertaker had arranged the hands in a praying position and entwined a rosary through the fingers. Seeing the boy there scared me more than anything has ever done either before or after. And I notice I have butterflies in my stomach as I write about the event right now, as an adult of 59 years.

For years thereafter death scared me. It still does a bit, but less so now after reading about the death and dying process. I had to do that after my own daughter–when she reached the age of 6 or 7-started asking me about the ways people can die. What I learned in my readings is that there are age-appropriate approaches one can take to help a child deal with death, and I wished someone had used some of them on me when I was a child.

I guess I can’t really blame my parents for this–although for a long time I did. My father had two sisters, one of whom died shortly after being born and the other when she was about 14. This was in the 1920s when infant mortality in immigrant communities was pretty high and before they had developed vaccines for all the major childhood illnesses. Since death was such a matter-of-fact part of everyday life back then, people were probably just expected to get on with their life. In the West, we have it pretty cushy and our long life spans mean that you can hide old people away and have them die without disturbing things. Our cults of health and individualism have also made us think somehow that we’re immortal or that “death is optional.”

As a child, I loved to go to Uncle Steve’s house. It lay about 15 miles way out near South Bend’s airport in the middle of a fertile agricultural plain that had been formed by draining the Kankakee marsh. His house sat on the edge of a huge farm that grew corn and near another where a family had a huge peppermint oil farm. On summer visits to Uncle Steve’s, you could smell the peppermint wafting across the field.

What I liked best, however, was Uncle Steve’s house. I remember the house having a cathedral ceiling and along one wall, it was all glass and Steve had filled every surface with plants, so that it looked like a green house. But what I liked best was that it was chock-a-block with all kinds of knick-knacks and curios. It reminded me a bit of the Adam’s Family’s house–there was a footstool made from an elephant’s foot and a manic cuckoo clock, which all kids love. Steve was a kind man who always joked with us and his wife, Ann, always had wonderful Hungarian pastries on hand for us.

In 1975, on a call back home, my mother informed me that Uncle Steve was dying. He had colon cancer and he was slipping fast. She said my father had spent many evening bedside and during a later call she said Dad was pretty devastated when Uncle Steve eventually died. Dad did share how grizzly the end was with me.

Why am I telling you this? Uncle Steve died nearly 40 years ago. He wasn’t famous, or important, or particularly altruistic. Why should you care? Yet, this is what life is all about. It’s about the small sphere of influence we operate in and the people who matter to us. That’s what’s really important–how we love and treat and take care of these people. Why, then, do we care more about the death of an inbred princess who smashes her Mercedes into a bridge abutment with her lover than we care for a young girl raped and killed and thrown into a mass grave in Kosovo? Why is princess Diana’s death considered tragic, when millions still die because of ethnic conflicts, starvation, neglect and diseases for which there have been cures for nearly a century? There is more tragedy in child labor and infanticide, which are rife, than in any bored Hollywood star’s sex life.

Download MP3s or buy CD of Brahms: Symphony 3

Johannes Brahms: Symphony Number Two in D Major

After becoming fascinated with Brahm’s first symphony, I moved on to his next two. This was during my sophomore year of college in 1975, during which I became even more enamored of Romantic movement in the arts in general and music in particular.

As I think I mentioned in my last post, it took Brahms nearly 12 years to finish his first symphony. He used to say he lived in the shadow of Beethoven, whom he worshipped, and his shyness kept him from putting himself in the same category. When his first symphony met with great acclaim, this so bolstered his spirits that he immediately set forth and penned his Symphony Number Two in D Major in a few short months.

Whereas the First Symphony contains lots of turmoil and seething emotions, the Second Symphony has been described by critics as “sunny.” Indeed, it seems related more to Beethoven’s Pastoral (Symphony Number Six), in its lyricism and lush depiction of naturalistic settings.

The first movement has a theme which is related to the melody people call “Brahm’s Lullaby.” That was an instant draw for me as I remember my mother singing that to me as I lay in my crib as a tot. The second movement starts out with a moody theme, and it is the most stormy of the movements. But Brahms manages to work this theme into a more uplifting state and by the end, you feel the sun flooding in to wash away the gray sentiments. The third movement begins with an introduction given over to the woodwinds. It has a gentleness to it, but there is a inexorable rhythm behind it. The orchestra then joins in playing very rapidly, though quietly. The rapid pace set against the quiet and lush strings gives this movement its appealing dynamism. The last movement is a spirited allegro, which remains upbeat and full of vigor and life the whole way through.

It probably wasn’t an accident that my interest in Brahms and Romanticism coincided with my first long term relationship with a woman. Considering the number of bad relationships I have seen friends go through over the years, I have to be thankful that my first one, which lasted almost two years, was overall pleasant. Her name was Linda and she had a great sense of humor, a deep appreciation for the arts, was quite even tempered, and never hurtful. I don’t remember more than a handful of arguments during our time together. Ours was a quiet relationship and we liked taking walks in forests, swimming, reading and listening to concerts. One semester I took a course in Chaucer and I had to learn to read the middle English text out loud. One of the poems, “The Miller’s Tale” is so bawdy, that it’s hard to believe. A man finds his wife is cuckolding him and when her lover climbs a ladder to steal a kiss, the husband sticks his derriere out, which the poor paramour kisses. When I read this passage out to Linda, she let forth a huge belly laugh and then held her sides as she fell to the floor laughing.

OK, so now it sounds like I’m romanticizing, for which, given the musical subject today, it seems I can be forgiven.

Download MP3 or buy CD of Brahms: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3

Johannes Brahms: Symphony Number One in C Minor

I became fascinated by the symphonies of Brahms in my third year of college, in 1975. This was not seen as odd by my fellow dorm mates in the French house where I lived (more about them below.) In high school I had heard Brahms’ fourth symphony and liked it a lot, though the rock group, Yes, had stolen a theme from it and sort of ran it into the ground. I never got tired of the first symphony, however, which still thrills me with its lush and Romantic third movement.

Brahms started writing his First Symphony when he was a mere 22 years old, but was so intimidated by the work of his hero, Beethoven, that after writing the first movement, he hid the symphony in a drawer where he left it for 12 years. Eventually he found the courage to complete the work, and finally premiered it in 1876 in Vienna.

The first movement starts out with an incredibly complex harmonic seething of the orchestra accompanied by an ominous sounding pounding of the tympanis almost like a death knell. This sets the tone of a classic Romantic struggle of emotions, and critics have linked it in many ways with Beethoven’s Ninth. The second movement goes off in quite a different, typically Brahmsian direction full of quiet but passionate lyrical passages.

My favorite movement, however, is the third, which is an allegro labeled “gracious.” It start with a clarinet playing the main theme accompanied by the orchestra and Brahms gives that instrument prominence throughout the movement. That marked the first time I had ever paid attention to the clarinet and found it capable of conveying beautiful emotions. That was a kind of revelation for me as I had been forced to play clarinet in 6th grade band and could barely produce more than a squawk from it. The last movement begins with the orchestra producing a feeling of turmoil reminiscent of the first movement. After continuing in this vein for a while, he eventually introduces a sad but lovely melody played first on the horn and then by a flute. This gives way to a wonderfully upbeat final theme, which reminds me a bit of “Pomp and Circumstances.” But then Brahms takes this and works it into a grand finish which has nothing but a sense of triumph about it.

Odds and Ends at the French House

I have written a good deal about the people who comprised the artsy-campy clique at my college dorm, the French House. Though I spent a good deal of time in their company, I did not shun the other inhabitants of the dorm. How could I? Myers-Briggs shows puts me firmly in the extrovert camp. i.e., one who gets there energy being around other people. I generally try to remain on friendly terms with just about everybody. And there were some interesting characters in the French House.

One interesting guy who springs to mind, Chuck Pirtle, hailed from a suburb of Chicago. His father taught high school English and once had John Belushi in his class whom he described as a jerk. Chuck was majoring in comparative literature and was particularly taken with the work of the Beat poets, the Dadaists, and the music of Bob Dylan. Chuck was about a year or two my junior, but he was incredibly well-read and exposed me to a wonderful world of anarchic, avante garde, satiric and subversive artists. Since I’ve always had a problem with authority figures, Chuck found fertile ground in me. I ended up developing a love for the likes of Tristan Tzara, Marcel Duchamp, and other early 20th century artists.

Chuck also worshipped Lenny Bruce, one of the first comedians to expose the racism and hypocrisy rife in the US during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Unfortunately, he had a foul mouth and mainlined heroin, so he became an easy target for the power elite. But he kind of became a test case for freedom of speech and only because of him were comedians like George Carlin and Eddie Murphy able to get away with saying the seven words that you couldn’t say on T.V.

There was a second clique in the house made up of three journalism majors, Whit, Steve and George. Whit came from Canton, Ohio and he and I became fairly good friends. He used to wow me with me stories about his high school where he said over half the staff had PHds. He had a steady girl named Margy, who went to a college in Ohio and he talked fondly of her. A big, strapping kid, Whit used to astound me with his ability to tolerate extremely hot temperatures. We had a communal showers in which you could easily scald yourself. Several times I walked in to find him standing there with the hot water just blasting on him. I once timed him and found he stayed in the shower for over 40 minutes.

Across the hall in two side by side rooms lived two other journalism major friends of Whit: Steve and George. Steve was plump and loved to sit around gossiping. George was a small waif with a pallid complexion and auburn hair that he wore in a cross between a Page Boy and a Pudding Basin shape. A few days after moving into the dorm, he started redecorating. He put up red, gauzy curtains and stuck mirror tiles on the wall opposite his bed and on the ceiling. George also kept a bottle of perfume which he would spray to create the proper mood when he entertained. And he entertained often. He had a coterie of small mousy girls who used to come to his room, and I spent many an evening chewing my leg off imagining what kind of orgies they were engaging in and wondering how a little guy like that could get girls. Steve used to spend time there as well until he and George once had a falling out which kind of poisoned the air on the floor.

Nearly forty years later, Chuck, Whit, Steve and I have all reconnected via Facebook.

Download MP3s or buy CD of Brahms: Symphony No. 1

Johannes Brahms: Hungarian Dance For Orchestra, No.11 Poco Andante

I had to post this.  My Pandora channel was set to Claude Debussy Radio, and this piece by Brahms popped up.

My knees almost went weak at its beauty.

I am so glad that classical music exist and there’s a lifetime of music that’s out there to discover.

Johannes Brahms: Violin Concerto in D

Serendipity has always played a large role in determining the direction my interest in classical music would take. For example, when I went in search of Brahms’ Piano Concerto Number 2, a friend suggested a double album that contained that work played by Rubenstein as well as the work for violin played by Jascha Heifitz. On first hearing it, I was smitten, and for a long time, it was the only piece I listened to.

Brahm’s Violin Concerto contained so much passion and seemed to resonate with so many emotions, which–as an adolescent in high school–I experienced at the time. Indeed, it became a kind of vessel into which I could pour all my emotions. Usually I was sad because of some crush on a girl, about which I could do nothing because I was so paralyzed with fear of rejection. I would then retreat to my room and put on the Brahms.

In researching this piece, I found an interesting story about Brahms, which might explain a bit my affinity for this piece. It seems that Brahms was discovered playing piano in beer halls by the virtuoso violinist Joachim. The violinist introduced him to a number of his friends, among them Robert Schumann and his wife Clara. Supposedly, Brahms became quite smitten with Clara, but even after Robert Schumann died, Brahms was not able to come out and declare his love to her. He remained a bachelor all his life.

Maybe this is why I find the concerto full of yearning and unfulfilled passion. In effect, I had often had the same hang-dog personality in high school. Later I realized this went back to something that happened in first grade. My mother used to baby sit a neighbor girl with me when I was little. I grew up thinking of her as my girlfriend, which she was until second grade. The other boys in class used to make fun of me for having a girl friend, but I’d known her so long and she was such a good friend, I just knew we’d grow up to be married. One day, however, she announced to me, in front of a good number of my classmates, that henceforth her boyfriend was a boy named Jeffry who went to another school. I was crushed, and because of that, I dreaded rejection for most of my life.

Brahm’s Violin Concerto starts out deceptively calm with the woodwinds playing the melody, but the orchestra then comes in full of passion. It quietens down for a moment but then it states the main violin theme, which a few moments later, the violin launches into full of energy and anguish. Eventually, the violin then soars into a lyrical section that has to be an expression of love.

Being a typical American male, I was taught that crying was unmanly. “Save your tears for when you really need them,” my father once said to me. Despite that, the second movement of Brahm’s violin concerto, always brings me to the brink of tears. It still strikes me as sad and beautiful. An oboe starts out playing a hauntingly beautiful melody, with a few instruments punctuating its pathos. When the violin starts, it immediately starts improvising on the melody, making it even more poignant. By the time the movement ends, you feel like you’ve watched a Vittorio DeSica film. Fortunately, after being led though the drama of the first and the anguish of the second, the third movement, upbeat and rousing, always seemed to resolve all the tension and make me feel happy. Before the days of Prozac and Zoloft, music was my seratonin reuptake inhibitor.

I’m interested in this phenomenon. Nowadays, when we hurt, we go to a doctor to get a pill. Poof! The hurt goes away. In Brahm’s time, he just wrote music. The music reflects his anguish, sadness, pain, his love and tenderness. Yet by writing, he turned the suffering around and spun the dross into gold.

So many of us today simply try to run from our pain, we are so scared of it. What if you stayed with it for a while, experiencing it, trying to find its cause, and worked through it? Of course, I’m not saying you should tough everything out. I’ve known lots of people who were too proud to do so when they could have saved themselves–and their loved ones–so much unnecessary suffering. But sometimes if we pay attention to pain and fear it can wake us up out of our complacency and inspire us to do great things.

Johannes Brahms: Piano Concerto Number 2

In my previous entry, I ended up talking about how rich cultural life was at the turn of the 20th century and how poor ours seemed by comparison. Of course, writers for thousands of years have decried the decadence of their own era and pined for the “Golden Age.” Presumably, that was some time in the remote past when everyone was a philosopher, ate ambrosia, and created great works of art.

We need only think of the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Florentines in Renaissance Italy, the French in the age of enlightenment, and in our own era, the fin de siecle.  But a look at a few of the musicians whose lives overlapped in the last decade of the 19th Century and the first of the 20th–Puccini, Faure, Mahler, Verdi, Toscanini, Milhaud, Tchaikowsky, Brahms, Grieg, Debussy, Rachmaninov and Stravinsky–does point to a golden age.

Often, I suspect the people who bemoan the sad state of the arts in their time are more often than not critics, not creators, of the arts. There’s a poem by E.A. Robinson called “Miniver Cheevy” that sums up these souls. Here are a few stanzas from it:

Miniver Cheevy Child of Scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons.

Miniver mourned the ripe renown
That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
And Art, a vagrant.

Minver cursed the commonplace
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the mediaeval grace
Of iron clothing.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on drinking.

The fact of the matter is that great works of art and philosophy that survives and from which we think we know the past was created by an educated minority. Right now over five of the Earth’s six billion people live in abject poverty and have pathetically short life spans. Think of how much higher the mortality rates must have been just a hundred years ago. Would any of us who yearn for those great minds of yesteryear swap places with anyone back then?

Woody Allen recently explored this idea again, in Midnight In Paris, in which the main character, at the ringing of a bell at midnight, is transported back to the 20s, where he meets Hemingway, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, Luis Bunuel, and Picasso.  He falls in love with one of Picasso’s models and together they travel back in time to the the previous generation of Toulouse Lautrec, Degas, Gaugin and Offenbach.  She longs for that golden age and cannot see the greatness of the artists around her, just as the Woody Allen character longs for the times of the Lost Generation.

Our problem today, methinks, is glut. We’re supersaturated with information. With radio, television, high literacy rates, and now the Internet. We suffer from so much information that we find it hard to separate the gold from the dross.

I am heartened though, when I look everywhere and see people in their everyday lives trying to create works of art and beauty. A friend of mine from grade school, Jayne Holsinger, has been living in New York since 1978, where she’s supported herself as a waitress and graphic designer and is now exhibiting her paintings in galleries. Another friend from high school, Doug Gottberg, has been composing and playing music with his group, Kino, in Paris since the early 1980s.  A while back, at my 25th high school reunion, I met an old friend named Ralph Scutchfield, who’s played bluegrass banjo since he was a boy and was then learning how to play the violin in a Suzuki class with his daughter. The hamstrung intellectuals will tell you that the arts are in bad shape, but not if you’re willing to go out and do them yourself.

What does this have to do with Brahm’s Piano Concerto Number Two? For a number of years, I went through my own Minver Cheevy phase. My drug, as I’ve said before, was music. Shy and lacking in self-confidence, I would sit in my room for hours listening to great works of music, letting my emotions flow out, feeling sorry for myself, feeling victimized. Brahm’s music was particularly affecting, and this concerto became one of my favorite pieces during that time period.

Unlike other concertos it has four movements, and it really is a breathtakingly grand work. When I think of it, it seems almost like a symphony with piano, so skillfully is the piano integrated with the orchestra. One critic of the time even labeled it as a “symphony with a piano obligato,” but the piano is used so expressively that comment seems like a cheap shot. Make no mistakes about it, Brahms was an incredible genius and a master of the instrument. He chose to express his genius through heart-rendingly beautiful melodies, which often brought tears to my eyes.

A high school friend–Paul M***–once told me a story that illustrates the composer’s gifts. Once Brahms went into a beer hall and was asked to play a tune on the piano. While warming up, he discovered the instrument to be excruciatingly out of tune. Brahms played a few scales and memorized which notes were off. He then transposed the notes of his piece correctly as he played it so that no one could hear that the piano was bad.

I particularly love the first movement, which starts with horns playing the Romantic melody.  The piano then picks the theme up in an almost angelic manner. The second movement, an allegro, is the extra movement, and is full of passion. The third reminds me a bit of Brahm’s violin concerto and often served to set me off self-wallowing sadness. Fortunately, Brahms finishes the work with a lively and upbeat Rondo, which never failed to lift me out of my doldrums.

So do I still grouse about the philistinism around me? Do I still feel like Miniver Cheevy? You tell me. What helped, I think, was taking violin lessons with my own daughter, when she started  around her ninth year. Sure, anyone can complain about the work of others. But it is immensely humbling–and liberating–to try some creative endeavor. Should more people do so, we’d all see that truly, we create our own “Golden Age.”

%d bloggers like this: