I love music, many kinds of music, but I’m especially fond of piano music. As I’m writing to you I’m enjoying the piano music of Frederic Chopin. I’m imagining he’s in the next room playing the piano just for me. Never mind that Chopin was born in 1810 and died in 1849. To me his spirit is alive and well and he speaks to me through his musical compositions.
Chopin is one of my many “dead friends” and as you may already know, “dead friends” are people I get to know and love by studying their letters, biographies and work.
It’s good to have an imagination you know, and I am blessed with an excellent one. I exercise it regularly. Do you exercise your imagination too? You should, for an imagination is a terrible thing to waste!
With imagination it’s possible to enjoy the company of all sorts of extraordinary people, people who may be living now or may have lived long ago. Time matters not. We read their books and letters, listen to their music, study their art, and it’s easy to imagine these people are with us. They are with us, perhaps not in person, but definitely with us in spirit.
It’s that way with letter friends too. We may not have the pleasure of meeting letter friends in person, but through their sharing of dreams, passions, yearnings and ideas we get to know them quite well. And these letter friends enliven our world of thought with the stories and information they share.
I’m thinking of my pen friend James Gilbert and the wonderful letters he writes. James is an artist and he is also quite knowledgeable in music. Ah music! That’s an art James and I both love, have studied, and appreciate. Do you love music? Do you speak music? By that I mean can you read musical manuscripts? Even if you don’t speak music, perhaps music speaks to you. I hope so for music is wonderful!
Well, James and I have had some very interesting musical conversations in letters. Let me share just one of them with you. James writes:
“A while back we were discussing Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Procession of Nobles”. That’s the one that they used to use as the theme music for the Channel 8 News out of Cleveland. You said you didn’t remember but could I write some of it down, so that’s it below.
I wrote it from memory but I’m pretty sure it’s right. It’s a rondo. There’s a little trumpet fanfare intro, and then the A section comes in (first three staffs). It is a very transparent piece of music, I think. Rimsky-Korsakov was largely self-taught, so there is a certain naivete about his work. Listen to the playful way he uses rhythm! Even though it’s in triple time, he sometimes straddles the bar line to give it the feeling of a march in 4. His use of tonality is so exotic! It’s not really written in a major key because he never uses the A sharp or the E sharp; it’s modal, and that gives it a very Russian feeling. Can’t you just see snow falling in the courtyard of the Hermitage when you hear the B section? The orchestration that he uses is quite exquisite. A lot of harp, which is probably intended to conjure the sound of a Russian folk instrument.”
After playing through the musical notation that James shared I did indeed remember hearing this piece at the start of the evening news way back when. What fun it was to discuss it in letters. Perhaps you know this piece. If not, take the musical notation to your piano and read through it, and if that’s not possible, go find it at the library or on the internet. Listen to it. “Procession of Nobles” really is a neat composition as are a lot of Rimsky-Korsakov’s works.
Having letter friends who share passions as James and I share our passion for music really makes the letters we write and receive extra fun. Letter writing is not only a great physical, social and spiritual activity, it is also a wonderful source for intellectual stimulation.
Life is what we make it. Each interest and friend we have enriches our life experience. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine my life without pen friends, and “dead friends” too for that matter. I suspect a great many people have neither and I think they’re missing out on a lot. I hope you enjoy both because they each have so very much to share, and you know what I always say, don’t you?
Sharing doubles the joy