Gottschalk & The Turtle Shell FanTuesday, August 29, 2006
Even though I was forced to learn to play the alto saxophone as a teenager I may be the least musically inclined member of my family. My mother played the piano, my Aunt Dolly the violin, my Uncle Tony was a fantastic tenor and my grandmother Lolita was a coloratura soprano. She was never able to launch an opera singer's career as she would have scandalized Manila. Proper girls did not sing in public. But this did not stop my grandmother's aunt, Buenaventura Galvez Puig (at right seen with Lolita, left) from being a concert pianist of note in the Philippines. It is only because I have perused her old sheet music that I came to know the existence of the New Orleans composer L.M. Gottschalk and appreciate his music.
Buenaventura's favorite niece was my mother Filomena. Before bed, she would brush my mother's long, thick hair. My mother cried. Buenaventura told her, "Alas, if you are to be a woman and a lady you will have to get used to suffering pain." My mother loved Buenaventura. Many years later, one of her tourtoise shell fans covered in the semi transparent jusi cloth, with her name incrusted in large emeralds and diamonds, became a bone of contention in the family. Both my mother and my aunt Dolly wanted it. My mother, in a Solomonic gesture, suggested a division of the prize. Dolly was to keep the gems and she would have the fan. The gems were sold or pawned many years ago, but the fan is still around. Here you see it in Rebecca's hands. Rebecca is taking piano lessons with Nikolai Maloff. Perhaps some day she will play Gottschalk's Morte! Lamentation pour Piano O.P. 60 for me.