Image: The Fairy Lemonade Stand, under the rose arbor.
Sunday, March 4
Snow falling lightly in the wind; large flakes ambling towards Earth, then swept along for some moments by a sudden squall... Looked out a front window in time to see a robin scurrying to safety under a fir tree. A wintery day in a very strange, warm winter...
The first of the Schubert six concerts/talks/open rehearsals was this past Thursday night, here at the house. I discussed and played the first two Impromptus Op. 142
, and will again - there is so much to say, so much for an audience to hear and understand. The beauty and depth and clarity of the first two Impromptus
is almost overwhelming, especially at a slower tempo. The third Impromptu, the variations, is both childlike and happy, joyous in some variations - and of the utmost pathos and sensitive heartbreak in others. This masterpiece is followed by the last of the set of four, which in spite of being set in a minor key is happy, even exuberant - and a technical tour de force
, much like the last variation of Impromptu #3
. The technical challenge in this last Impromptu lies in the simplicity of Schubert's writing - and that the virtuoso passages are so naked, exposed. And much of the joy written into this piece is the joy of the pianist surmounting the technical difficulties... which is often also true in many of Liszt's virtuoso pieces. Just the sheer joy of playing the piano... Of playing music...
Schubert and Beethoven were contemporaries, even though Schubert was born 27 years later; Schubert died only a year after Beethoven, in 1828. By the time Schubert and Beethoven's lives were over, Verdi, Wagner (both born in 1813), Chopin, Schumann (both born in 1810) and Liszt (1811) were already in their mid to late teens... This information came as a surprise to many in the audience, even as a shock... Easy to forget that the history of Western tonal music is fairly short, with much overlapping. In the classical music literature, tonality began with J.S. Bach in the seventeen hundreds, and among the great classical composers essentially ended with Rachmaninov, i.e. a mere few centuries. And Rachmaninov overlapped Satie, Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel and Scriabin, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern...
But, for me, the most enjoyable is to delve into the music, into the composer's mind and heart; to discuss the compositional techniques and forms used... Began my talk with the very first chord of the first Impromptu Op. 142
, the spacing of that initial 'f' minor chord - and its introduction of grace notes, as though to set a throne for that initial tonic chord, establishing the key...
Wednesday, March 7
Today sunny, well over sixty degrees. Samantha and I brought the dahlia bulbs up from the basement. Time to start them in sunny windows, in peat moss... JF and I will get some cartons at Agway tomorrow, then I will line the cardboard flats with plastic and plant the tubers in peat moss. Spent hours outside raking around the crocus and daffodils. The crocus are blooming everywhere now, in both the front and back gardens, bouquets of color scattered in the lawns, in the flower beds.
Took a walk tonight, a bit after eleven p.m., the moon looking very full and hazy. No stars. I stood for quite some time at the corner of our street, the sound of the falls behind me, and gazed at the hills in the distance. At night you cannot distinguish the form of the hills to our west and north, they are too distant - but their lights are like stars... The hill to our east begins at the road of the waterfall, at the end of our street; one can either walk the trail in the gorge or take a steep and narrow winding road up to Cornell. Looking in that direction I could easily see the lights in some windows, and the outlines of the nearest houses. The beauty of the lamps and lit windows on the hills, like sparkling crystalline geodes in the night, on three sides of me as I stood wordless on that silent corner. Even after all these years, over twenty in this house, I never tire of the beauty that surrounds us...
Sunday, March 11
Almost 70 degrees today; more crocus have opened, even the late crocus. Spring is a month or two early - and if the crocus are to be believed, here to stay. Kathy and I went to Stewart Park and walked a bit, sat in the sun and spoke, gazed at the water and distant hills. Entering Kathy's car - the strong scent of roses. Mentioned it to Kathy, she said she does not believe in such things. And that was that.
Thursday, March 12
Raked the front gardens for a few hours. Some of the early daffodils are blooming, the small iris... Drew up a garden map for planting bulbs in the fall. Planted the dahlia bulbs in cartons filled with peat - on warm days they can go outside.
As I was walking in the gardens, suddenly I felt myself in a Heaven realm, without my physical body. And I thought: "I should do this more often".
Friday, March 16
More supernatural fragrances of roses: in the front room when my aide Robin came earlier this week, also during meditation class - and today, out in the back garden with my meditator, Kristin.
Saturday, March 17
Spent the morning and early afternoon at Windgarth - a beautiful sunny, warm day. Raked all the front leaves; M. bagged them. Tomorrow we will rake the back and take the leaves down to the lake and burn them. Crocus everywhere, little iris; some vegetables coming up in neat rows from last year. A few early daffodils in bloom, but town seems to be a few weeks ahead of Sheldrake. Spent only a few moments on the dock, sparkling brilliant points of sunlight on the water; by the time we had finished raking and carting leaves, it was time to head home for Mass.
A brief, fragrant scent of roses soon after we entered the church. It was so strong that at first M. insisted that it was perfume - save it was only in that one spot and then disappeared...
Wednesday, March 21
Over seventy degrees already today. The daffodils and small Siberian blues are blooming, the roses are leafing out... The crocus are spent. Went into the gardens briefly - thought I saw a few yellow jackets yesterday. If so this will be a long indoor summer for me. Rescued a honey bee from our back screen; waved to a school bus going by and a very tiny child with light blond hair waved back.
Last night I set up Fairy Hollow under the climbing rose arbor by the sidewalk; a small table and chairs made of wood bark, a lemonade stand a few inches tall. Put out the fairies' Mail Box so they can receive and send mail. Chalk so the children can draw on the sidewalk.
Received my printed galley of We Meet in Dreams
some days ago. The book is in limbo for the moment, the italics need to be darkened and Diana's new semester at the Art Institute has started. Hopefully she will be able to make the needed changes soon, and then the manuscript file needs to be resubmitted before the book can be published.
Thursday, March 22
We are studying Paul Brunton in our Wednesday meditation classes, the Emotions and Ethics
volume of his Notebooks
. Last night, in class, I gave my students an exercise - to see our egoism. Laurel laughed and said she had no problems, and then added: "That's my ego speaking". One of the students was struggling with her grief over the loss of her sister a year ago - and she was very radiant with Light while struggling to transcend her emotions, trying to apply the quotes we were reading and discussing to her situation and inner turmoil, her soul's striving manifesting in bursts of Radiant Light...
Monday, March 26
Today winter weather, scarves and winter coats everywhere... The Magnolia, cherry and white pear trees in bloom, petals scattering in the wind.
Last night I decided to memorize the first Schubert Impromptu Opus 142, and found a note I had not really paid attention to when I was reading through the piece; it resolves downward in an inner voice, and it was so beautiful and touching that I cried. For some reason it reminded me of one of Chopin's posthumously published Etudes, the second of his Trois Nouvelles Etudes
Wednesday, April 11
The crab apple tree in the backyard is in bloom; last night a fleeting snow storm. The new Schubert is entirely memorized; last Friday I performed the third Impromptu Op. 142
, the beautiful Variations
. When I had finished, JF said: "I feel as though I have been around the world". Two neighbors brought their three year old daughter, Tilde; she listened attentively and screamed pitifully when they left early. The Variations
are very human - unlike the first two Impromptus
in Op. 142, which definitely have at least one foot, if not both, in another realm - and run the gamut from joyful childlike happiness to the deepest and most tender transparent grief. Yes around the world inwardly...
Diana will not be able to change the italics until this weekend - her new schedule at the Art Institute is just too demanding. Meanwhile all I can do is wait.