With the death of my Rosemary on December 9, death, my own has been more in my face than ever before. I am in the midst of sifting through thousands of family photographs. My two daughters will have to help in telling me which ones we keep. And then there are all those negatives and slides, too. The awful key word for me these days as I try to pay bills (Rosemary did all that) and see which credit cards I can cut up, is overwhelmed.
But there was one bright spot among all this that while associated with death did make me smile.
My grandmother in Manila had a first cousin called Buenaventura Gálvez Puig. She was a concert pianist with a lovely connection to my mother. When my mother, Filomena was a little girl, Buenaventura would brush her hair. It seemed this was painful and my mother would cry out. Buenaventura would say to her, “To be a lady will always involve pain.”
Through my grandmother somehow we inherited Buenaventura’s complete, leather-bound Beethoven Sonatas and some Mozart. Plus there was a lot of sheet music.
One in particular attracted my eye back in Mexico City in the early 70s. I had a good table saw so I cut wood to make frames which I spray-painted with automobile lacquer. One sheet music cover was of a musician I had never heard of called. L.M. Gottschalk. He was an American pianist (so I found out) who was born in New Orleans. One of his pieces involved multiple pianos all being played at the same time. My baroque bassist friend Curtis Daily told me that in his time (May 8, 1829 – December 18, 1869) he was the most famous pianist from the American continent. He died in Rio as he could never return to the United States. He had had an affair with a student.
The musical piece intrigued me and a few weeks ago I put L.M. Gottschalk, Morte! Into YouTube and found:
Curtis Daily who also plays the piano says the composition is simple but because it is repetitive it is difficult to memorize. I love it. And, I have one regret. Chances are that my mother never heard Buenaventura play it. By the time my mother became a very good pianist would she have played Morte!. I will never now. And of course there would have been no recordings in her time.
This blog is dedicated to the memory of my mother Filomena de Irureta Goyena and my Rosemary Elizabeth Waterhouse-Hayward Healey.