e-mail letter from Fred to Patrick and Stephanie on 31 Jan ‘1, which Patrick sent to me on 8 Sep ’15 as part of a large collection.
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2001 19:08:46 -0500
Subject: But . . .
Merwin DID say, ‘If I wasn’t human I wouldn’t be ashamed of anything’
& Oooo how we need Iraq. You know . . . Your tax bill is losing favor, sir. BOMB IRAQ. I’ll make a strong statement to begin my administration. BOMB IRAQ. Ms L. may testify. BOMB IRAQ. Some say, sir, that women should decide the disposition of their bodies. BOMB IRAQ. Etc., you know, someone let the blacks get away, so now it’s Iraq.
But, despite being human, I say Greetings Stephanie & Pat,
Just days after I received yr splendid tract on Tononi et al, an article appeared on a Brooklyn maker who was to restore Bernard Greenhouse’s (of Beaux Arts) cello. Then, shortly thereafter, a 15 min. segment on Public TV (MacNeil-Lehrer, if you remember — only trustworthy news in US TV) on this maker. Went into his shop for snatches of his work (fascinating to watch him plane, then fingernail tap at his ear, then on). Isaac Stern appeared briefly. That maker had made Stern a ‘copy’ of his violin. Stern said he once took the ‘copy’ to a rehearsal & nobody (including Yo Yo Ma — is that a stage name? — but no. You couldn’t invent that) noticed. They talked about the Cremonese makers, the wood & the sealers, varnishes. One of the woods this maker uses is an Italian evergreen — cedar??????pine?????cypress???? — incredibly expensive. All wonder(root sense)ful. & if you wonder why I speak of maker instead of giving his name, it’s because it’s one of those mittleuropeans with an unbridgeable number of i’s, e’s,c’s, concluding with, yes, cz.
Yrs ago I recall reading of a theory that the old fiddles sounded better because the constant vibrations ‘aligned’ the atoms in the wood. I only mention that because I remember it & promise to forget it if you tell me to.
Anyway, all this has me listening to string combinations — Mozart duets, Beethoven trios, that damned thrilling Martinu duet (do you know that? Only thing I ever heard of his) & quartets. Oooo thta profound, sonorous, plangent, incredibly rich wood sound.
Your life sounds rich indeed. I’d like to sit at yr host’s table & beside you at some of these concerts. Don’t know Rebecca Clarke & only that one luscious Amy beach trio. I’ll never forgive my parents for not causing me to learn music. My mother was a piano graduate from Salem College (played the Grieg Concerto as grad. project), my father was a trained tenor who wandered the house belting ‘Ridi, Pagliacci’ & ‘E lucevan e stelle’, & there was a wedding gift 1925 Baldwin baby grand in our living room all my life. How could they not? Depression? Yeah, I guess. I learned that football was like– really — IMPORTANT.
Sometimes I think fi I had met a woman who really loved music I could have stayed married. I never did. Like everybody ‘likes’ music, but John Gardiner said he couldn’t imagine life without music. Neither can I. & you know, I don’t know personally one single person who reads poetry. & thus, am I a freak.
& am really back ‘into’ jazz. Recently got a couple of the old Jazz at Philharmonic discs. Aligns my atoms. The Burns film is catching flack from critic because he did not feature their favorite & black critics because he is white. We’ll never get over it — race, that is. BOMB IRAQ. Amusing almost, now that the genome dicks have told us that it doesn’t even exist. Sorta like the Holy ghost.
Naught else. Toils urge other — at yr end too, by now.
*oceans of it
I notice the Melos Quartet will be there. I have their recording of the Schubert last 3 & Sattz & the Mozart ‘Hadyn 6″. Like them very much. Whose better these days? Is Tatrai still around?