Jules

September 6, 2017

My dear friend Jules Eskin passed away last November at the age of eighty-five.

Jules Eskin

Jules playing his cello, 1994. Photo copyright Dorothea von Haeften.

I first met Jules when he became principal cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra in 1961. I had already been in the orchestra as assistant concertmaster for two years. At twenty-two years old, I was the youngest member of the orchestra, and it was my first job upon graduating from music school. Naturally, I was curious to meet Jules, whose reputation preceded him as a seasoned professional coming directly from New York City. Jules claims, although I don’t remember it, that the first words out of my mouth when we met were: “So, Jules, I hear that you’re a real tough guy.” It was a stupid opening line and in any case, it was not true. Jules could be direct, even blunt, yet he possessed an enormously appealing warmth and liveliness that was irresistible.

And that was the way Jules played the cello. The first time I heard him in an orchestral solo, I swear my heart beat a little faster. Never have I heard a more gorgeous sound coming from the instrument, or such an exquisitely refined and expressive vibrato that always seemed to match the music in question.

Jules and I soon found that we had similar ways of thinking and feeling about music. This became apparent when we compared notes about the various soloists who performed with the orchestra. We’d make bad faces at one another across the orchestra and shake our heads with disapproval if a pianist played woodenly or a violinist played with questionable taste. A very young piano soloist named Daniel Barenboim so impressed both Jules and me that we approached him at intermission and invited him for an evening of sonatas and trios. Barenboim eagerly accepted, and that turned into two evenings of unforgettable music-making, each lasting well into the night.

Jules and I quickly became good friends, but as someone five years older than I, he also acted as an older brother and advisor. He advised me on food (for example, Jules made an outstanding chicken cacciatore); on wine, on shoes, on pipe tobacco (Balkan Sobranie); on sex, romance, insurance policies (not necessarily in that order); and on cars. I did not buy the 1964 Ford Mustang Jules highly recommended, something I’ve always regretted.

At one point, Jules invited me to share the house he was living in. We usually had breakfast together, and here the conversations ranged enormously in subject matter. We talked, of course, about music, musicians, the orchestra, and endlessly about our conductor, George Szell, an object of huge admiration and great fear.

But Jules also took it upon himself to look after me in orchestral matters. Once, when he saw that I was about to leave for a concert despite having a bad cold with fever, Jules barred my way.

“I want you to call the orchestra manager, Trogden, and cancel,” Jules demanded.

“But Jules,” I pleaded, I’m supposed to be concertmaster for these concerts. That’s my job.”

“No, your job is to take care of yourself. Call Trogden right now. I’m getting on the other phone to make sure he doesn’t talk you out of cancelling.”

However, when I called the orchestra manager and told him I would not be able to serve as concertmaster because of illness, he was surprisingly unsympathetic.

“Arnold,” Trogden whined, “what am I going to do for a concertmaster if you don’t show up at the last minute?”

Knowing that Jules was listening in, I suddenly felt much older and more confident. “Trog,” I said, “I understand Sears is having a sale on concertmasters today. Try them.” Jules burst out laughing on the other phone.

At one of those many breakfasts we shared, Jules told me that there would be a Cleveland Orchestra performance of Saint-Saëns’ “Carnival of the Animals” and that he would be performing the movement for solo cello, The Swan. From that moment on, Jules worked on it every day for long periods. I knew The Swan. I had played a violin arrangement of it as a kid. Why all the fuss over such a simple melody, I wondered. But Jules kept at it, and one day he intercepted me as I was leaving the house. “Come into the living room and listen. I have two ways of doing this particular passage. Which do you like more?” he asked. Each way sounded beautiful to me, and I was tempted to tell Jules to stop being fussy and just play the solo from the heart. But there was a difference between the two ways Jules had played the phrase, and as Jules kept on asking me questions, The Swan gradually stopped being a naïve, simple melody, and became a moving story of the stately swan that could be told in an infinite number of ways.

It wasn’t as if I’d never seriously considered the importance of shaping a phrase, a melody, or an entire work of music, but Jules drew me into a world of detail and nuance that I had never imagined before.

Jules and I both left the Cleveland Orchestra in 1964—Jules to become principal cellist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and I to form with three of my colleagues a much smaller orchestra, the Guarneri String Quartet. We could not have imagined the long-running and richly rewarding careers ahead of each of us. Jules remained first cellist of the BSO for fifty-three years, and our Quartet performed on the world’s concert stages for forty-five years.

Despite our different lives, Jules and I remained fast friends to the end of his life, and although I enjoyed our summer hikes together and loved to listen to Jules wax poetic about his passion for running, for motorcycles, and for cars, it was music that bound us together. Jules would occasionally sit me down to listen to recordings that he loved. It could be Gregor Piatigorsky playing the Dvorak “Cello Concerto,” Jascha Heifetz doing Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby, or Pablo Casals with the Schumann “Cello Concerto.”

Once, Jules phoned and said, “Put down everything and turn on the radio. Rostropovitch is about to conduct the BSO in Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” symphony. I know, I know, he’s not the greatest conductor in the world but it doesn’t matter. You will have an emotional experience listening to his performance as if Tchaikovsky himself were on the podium.”

I did listen, and Jules was right. Never have I heard such a moving performance of the Pathétique. And that was vintage Jules with his contagious enthusiasm, his almost childlike excitement, and his overriding passions.

Not long ago, I brought up the subject of The Swan to Jules—how diligently he had worked on this incandescent melody and also how long and detailed our discussions had been. The experience had made an indelible impression on me, but to my surprise, Jules had no memory of it. Jules thought for a moment and then said, “I don’t remember practicing The Swan, but that melody means a great deal to me. When I listen to cellists auditioning for the BSO, they first play their concerto and their orchestral excerpts, and then I ask them to play The Swan. Once I hear that, I know everything I need to know.”

Jules, once I heard you play The Swan—with that rapturous sound of yours, that most tender vibrato, and with the melody’s contours shaped so compellingly, so lovingly as only you could—I also knew everything I needed to know.

I miss you, Jules, and my heart aches when it comes upon me that you are gone, but on the other hand, I am so deeply grateful to have had you as my friend.

Jules and Arnold

Jules and me on our last hike together, August 2016. Photo copyright Dorothea von Haeften.

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Comments

  1. From Paula Lifschey on September 6, 2017

    As you know, Marc was a close friend of Jules, too, and he stayed in touch with me after
    Marc died, which I appreciated, and I know Marc would have, too. It helped me to feel I hadn’t lost the whole world I’d been connected to through Marc. I have some enjoyable
    memories of banter between the two of them. Actually Jules felt that after you and he left
    Cleveland, that is when Marc couldn’t take it there any more without the two of you there.

  2. From ron koken on September 6, 2017

    Thank you, Arnold, I look forward to the monthly columns. A laugh or two and a damp eye this morning.

  3. From Mark Ludwig on September 6, 2017

    Arnold, What a lovely tribute to cousin Jules. Your comments at his memorial program in Ozawa Hall ere equally touching and heartfelt.

  4. From Mikell Becker on September 6, 2017

    Dear Arnold,
    As always your storytelling is superbly written, revealing of his character and your own. Thank you! One tiny correction on the caption for your photo with him. It must have been taken in 2016.
    All the best,
    Mikell

  5. From Julie Jaffee Nagel on September 6, 2017

    Thank you for introducing me to Jules – and your friendship. What a loving tribute to a dear friend and to the music that sealed your friendship. I love your retort about the “sale at Sears” – a good reminder to take care of ourselves……..

  6. From Aza Raykhtsaum on September 6, 2017

    Thank you,Arnold!
    I am crying again and again…..

    Yes,last photo of two of you was taken in August 2016
    It is almost a Year since he left us…

  7. From John Yeh on September 6, 2017

    Dear Arnold! Thanks for your beautiful and heartfelt tribute to Julie Eskin! Dorothea’s photo perfectly captures your abiding friendship! Brought a tear to my eye.

  8. From carlos cabezas on September 7, 2017

    Friends are forever, especially when they had touch you with their music! Thank you for made me see my music friends as something that I will have to keep in touch no matter what… life is to fragile… love and music.

  9. From Tim Lorsch on September 7, 2017

    Dear Mr. Steinhardt, I always appreciate your heartfelt observations about the intersection of life and music.

    Tim Lorsch

  10. From Peter Chun on September 7, 2017

    Mr. S.,

    Thank you for this lovely story. I also loved Mr. Eskin’s artistry. You have added so much to my own appreciation of him. Thank you.

  11. From LInda Beuret on September 8, 2017

    I forwarded this story to 2 Cellists who knew Jules Eskin–David Geber & Alan Stepansky.
    They thank you and say “Arnold writes as beautifully as he plays”.

  12. From HARVEY ZIROFSKY on September 10, 2017

    This was very touching. Music has a way of keeping people together even when they are gone. I never met Jules but I now feel connected to him through your writing.

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Story Index

Jules Eskin

September 6, 2017

Jules

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February 2, 2012

Jascha

Mr. Jascha Heifetz (born 1901, died 1987) Violin Virtuoso Section Heaven February 2, 2012 Dear Mr. Heifetz, Today, February 2nd, is your birthday. Happy birthday, sir, and my deepest thanks for the miracle of your artistry. I have listened to you play the violin throughout my entire life—actually my entire life plus nine months to [...]
The Arnold Steinhardt Metronome

January 5, 2012

You’re On Your Own

My daughter, Natasha, once came home from her weekly piano lesson and asked to use my metronome—a request from her teacher. I told Natasha that I didn’t own a metronome. At the next lesson, her teacher insisted I go out and buy one. The clerk at my local music store looked at me oddly as [...]
Meryl Streep as Roberta Guaspari

December 4, 2011

Uh-Oh

I began to study the violin with a series of teachers who taught music and the instrument, but who as time went by also saw fit to teach me the elusive craft of performance. Toscha Seidel, an early teacher, challenged me to break out of my shell and show the music’s emotional character. My next [...]
Rock Concert T-shirt

November 1, 2011

Listen

I had just settled down with my ice cream cone in front of Ralph’s Pretty Good Café when a garbage truck rumbled to a stop directly in front of me. To my consternation, the driver got out with the motor still running and noisily began to empty garbage cans into the truck. No, I said [...]
Manuscript of Beethoven's Grosse Fuge

October 3, 2011

Opus 130

Not long before I graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in 1959, John Dalley, a fellow violin student, asked me whether I’d like to work on Beethoven’s late String Quartet in B Flat, Opus 130. The Paganini String Quartet had recently performed at the school, ending their program with another late Beethoven Quartet, Opus [...]
Arnold Steinhardt's Violin Case

September 9, 2011

My Violin Case

What’s a violin case for? Well, a violin for one. And bows to go along with it, of course. What else? Extra strings, rosin, and a mute. Also, a tuning fork and chin rest fastener. Oh, I almost forgot—music stored in the case cover pouch. That’s about it, right? Wrong. At least, forgive the pun, [...]
Rudolf Serkin, pianist, and Arnold Steinhardt, violinist, 1980

August 2, 2011

Marlboro at Sixty

The following article appeared in a booklet, “60th Anniversary Reflections on Marlboro Music”, that celebrated the event with a weekend gathering at Marlboro on July 9 and 10 of hundreds of participants past and present from all corners of the globe. In August, 1957, Jaime Laredo and I, two young violinists hoping for a career [...]
Stage F-F-Fright

July 1, 2011

Stage F-F-Fright

I must have been only seven or eight years old when I first performed in public. My teacher, Mr. Moldrem, had me play two melodies, one from the Beethoven Violin Concerto and the other from Brahms First Symphony. Moldrem, well known for his ability to teach youngsters, presented his students regularly in concerts. Before the [...]
Del Gesu Beare, Scrolls

June 6, 2011

An Old Friend

Sam, a widower in the autumn of his life, lost thirty pounds, had a face lift, dyed his hair, took elocution lessons, bought a smart new wardrobe, withdrew all the money from his bank, and flew to Miami for a brand new life. Soon after, Sam met a lovely woman at his hotel’s casino and [...]
Practice, Practice

May 3, 2011

Practice, Practice

After the Second World War, my parents were able to rent out a room attached to the back of our garage due to a severe housing shortage. The rumpus room, as they called it, was sparsely furnished, but that was enough for a succession of people to perch there for the time they needed to [...]
The Duo

April 1, 2011

The Duo

After forty-five years making music together, the Guarneri String Quartet played its very last concert on October 27, 2009. People often ask me whether I miss playing quartets. Of course I do. I miss not only the concerts, but also the camaraderie, the rehearsals, the traveling, the exotic food, and the interesting people along the [...]

March 1, 2011

A Meditation on the Meditation

In the ancient Egyptian city of Alexandria, the courtesan, Thaïs, reflects on her past life of worldly pleasure. Looking into the mirror, she worries that her beauty will soon fade. The monk, Athanaël, arrives at her palace, admonishing Thaïs that there is one kind of love she does not yet know. He exhorts her to [...]
Forty Year Story

February 3, 2011

Forty Year Story

In the spring of 1970, Judith Serkin, a cello student at the Curtis Institute of Music, told me that she and four other students at school, cellist Peter Wiley, violist Geraldine Lamboley, and violinists Lucy Chapman and Jill Levy, hoped to study Schubert’s Two Cello Quintet during the next semester. Judith asked whether I would [...]
Perfect Pitch Tablets from Tone Deaf Comics

January 3, 2011

Perfect What?

My daughter, Natasha, told me recently about a gifted young boy she knows who has learned to read at an early age and already plays the piano with astonishing originality. As if to offer a final and irrefutable proof of the boy’s extraordinary musical talent, Natasha added one more thing. “You know, he’s got perfect [...]
David Soyer

December 6, 2010

Dave

David Soyer, cellist and founding member of the Guarneri String Quartet, passed away on February 24, 2010—one day after his 86th birthday. Michael Tree, violist, and John Dalley and I, violinists, the other founding members, played in the quartet with Dave for almost forty years and we knew him for close to fifty. Peter Wiley, [...]
Paganini's Birthday

October 27, 2010

Paganini’s Birthday

Today, October 27th, is Niccolo Paganini’s birthday. Below is a reprint of an article I wrote on this occasion which appeared in the October issue of The Strad magazine. Next, as an attachment, is Caprice #24.25, my arrangement of Paganini’s 24th Caprice. Finally, I include a letter that to my great astonishment Paganini just wrote [...]
Photo from Opus

October 4, 2010

Opus

I saw Opus a while ago, a play by Michael Hollinger that deals with the inner workings of a string quartet. Since I have been a violinist in the Guarneri String Quartet for many decades, you can imagine that I awaited the opening curtain with some anticipation. The subject of my profession is not exactly [...]
Hermes/Mercury, God of Travel

September 6, 2010

Psssst

I hear a lot of griping from my friends these days about travel. Trains are much more luxurious and dependable in Europe. Japanese taxi drivers wear white gloves and decorate their cars with curtains while in New York City, taxis are, well, let’s not even talk about it. And the deluxe plane travel of years [...]

August 2, 2010

In a Sentimental Mood

I recently heard an all-Stravinsky concert performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. A few days later, a review of the evening by Anthony Tommasini appeared in the April 23, 2010 edition of the New York Times. A comment he made about the orchestra’s rendition of The Firebird Suite caught my eye: “The Firebird’s Lullaby, [...]
Dinner Music

July 1, 2010

Dinner Music

Uncharacteristically early for an appointment, I slowed my pace up Manhattan’s Lexington Avenue. Better early than late, I thought, but what on earth was I to do with myself for the next 30 minutes. As I approached 86th St., the answer appeared almost by magic in the form of Papaya King, a hot dog stand [...]
Disney Hall

June 2, 2010

Something New, Something Old

I happened to be performing in Los Angeles just as the city’s new and glittering Disney Hall opened several years ago. A week earlier, I called my mother who was living in Southern California to tell her of my arrival. “Oh, wonderful,” she said. “You can take me to Disney Hall.” That was fine with [...]
Joe Vita

May 4, 2010

Joe Vita

I left the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University last year after having taught a graduate violin class there for over two decades. Among other things, I miss the lively conversations I often had with colleagues at student recitals, oral exams, juries, or over a pizza at the local Italian restaurant. Topic [...]
Twelve Note Story

April 23, 2010

Twelve Note Story

Take a deep breath and try to settle down. I know, I know. The task is daunting, but you’ve worked hard. Just be relaxed. Be focused. And now get practical. For starters, think of a good tempo. Not so easy based on the first two or three notes that are slow and deeply personal. Better [...]
News Alert

March 30, 2010

News Alert

The United States Bureau of Weights and Measures has just announced at a national news conference that chamber music may cause global warming. The issue first came to the bureau’s attention when directors of several distinguished music conservatories notified it of alarming and unexplained rises in temperature at odd times of the school day. Government [...]
Sophisticated Traveler

February 28, 2010

Sophisticated Traveler

I planned to take the 2 PM Eastern Airlines shuttle from New York City. That would have gotten me into Boston by three with plenty of time to grab a bite, take a taxi to Jordan Hall, change, practice some, and relax a bit before the Guarneri String Quartet concert at 8 PM. But an [...]
Grammy Award

January 18, 2010

Grammy Awards

The Guarneri String Quartet was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Chamber Music Performance this year for our Hungarian Album on RCA Red Seal. The CD consists of Ern? Dohnányi’s Quartets Nos. 2 and 3, and Zoltán Kodály’s Quartet No. 2, three works of striking beauty. The Grammy Awards (originally called [...]
Shall We Dance?

January 4, 2010

Shall We Dance?

Many years ago, I had occasion to play a Bach Partita for the pianist and scholar, Arthur Loesser. When I finished, Loesser asked me whether I knew how to dance the partita’s five movements. I vaguely knew that the movements were based on old dance forms, but I had assumed that the dance steps themselves [...]
Looking for Work

December 1, 2009

Looking for Work

The Guarneri String Quartet retired, yet Arnold Steinhardt continues to perform in public. Photo by Dorothea von Haeften. Violinist in Recently Retired String Quartet Looking for Work * Skills Proficient in chamber music. Works best with people willing to overlook occasional lapses in intonation, phrasing, and tone. Performs virtuoso solo works, but no higher than [...]
Birth Pains

November 4, 2009

Birth Pains

Mozart’s String Quartet, K. 421 in D Minor, occupies a special place in the hearts of the Guarneri String Quartet. It was the very first music we read through after deciding to form as a group. Why that work? Hard to remember after all these years, but I would guess that its emotion charged and [...]
The Guarneri Quartet

October 6, 2009

For the Very Last Time

On June 12, 2007, the Guarneri String Quartet sent out the following announcement: Dear Friends, We, the Guarneri String Quartet, have decided to retire at the end of the 2008-9 season, our forty-fifth year before the public. This has not only been a long journey, but a deeply satisfying one as well. What could be [...]
Gray's Papaya

September 1, 2009

Gray’s Papaya

“We’ll drive you home,” said Frank Salomon, an old friend and long-time presenter of the Peoples’ Symphony Concerts at Washington Irving High School. The Guarneri String Quartet had just finished a performance there, the last ever on the series before our retirement. Moments later, Frank behind the wheel, his wife Martha, my wife Dorothea, and [...]
Second Concert

August 3, 2009

Second Concert

The following is a slightly extended version of Second Concert, that appeared in the June publication of the new magazine Listen: Life with Classical Music. Our string quartet played a concert at Emory University in March of this year. Whenever I’m in Atlanta, I stay with my friends, Murphy Davis and Ed Loring, ministers who [...]
Arthur Rubinstein

July 7, 2009

Really

A member of the audience, somebody I’d seen backstage more than once before, came up to me recently after a concert I had just played. He smiled broadly, shook my hand enthusiastically, and said, “Great concert… really.” In the midst of thanking him, that last word, “really,” finally registered. Really? Excuse me sir, but what [...]
Life, Death, Music

June 13, 2009

Life, Death, Music

Last summer, Emily Hsiao, a teenager whom I’d never met, e-mailed me. She asked whether the Guarneri Quartet would have time to listen to music students in her high school when we played in Ann Arbor, Michigan that winter. Only hours after my visit to the school, a brutal attack on one of those students [...]
Almost on the Riviera

May 11, 2009

Almost on the Riviera

Did you always believe what your parents told you when you were young? I certainly did. I may not have always had the good sense to obey them or heed their advice but their wisdom was unquestionable. Take education, for example. My parents believed mightily in the importance of formal knowledge and therefore the need [...]
The Abode

April 1, 2009

The Abode

Alter Bock, a dedicated amateur string quartet player, has just announced plans for the creation of a home for retired chamber musicians. “I’m concerned that these wonderful musicians I’ve heard and admired most of my life have a nice place to spend their golden years.” He spoke to me from the music room in his [...]
Yehudi Menuhin

March 5, 2009

Genie in a Bottle

I ran into the violinist, Jennifer Koh, not long ago. Jenny is a highly gifted young musician who happens to have a keen interest in string players of old. At some point, our conversation turned to Yehudi Menuhin, one of the great violinists of the twentieth century. We talked about Menuhin’s instantly recognizable style, the [...]
A Brush with Fame

February 8, 2009

The Brush With Fame

Ah, Los Angeles! So-called city of angels, a place where the sun shines almost always, where palm trees flourish, a place that knows no winter-in short the city where I was born and raised. But in my adolescence, Los Angeles was much more than a hedonist’s playground. Thanks to the movie industry, the balmy weather, [...]
New Years Thoughts

January 1, 2009

New Year’s Thoughts

A drawing in the New Yorker magazine several years ago depicted a tawdry back alley with a few empty cans and bottles strewn about. The caption above read: Life without Mozart. Its message apparently affected many of us. I saw the drawing on peoples’ desks, walls, and refrigerator doors for years afterward. As a member [...]
The Swan

December 1, 2008

The Swan

When I was eleven years old, my violin teacher assigned me The Swan by Camille Saint-Saëns. I had no idea that The Swan was a famous cello solo or that it was part of a much larger work, The Carnival of the Animals. I had never even heard of its composer, Saint-Saëns, or seen his [...]
Mr. Oliver

November 10, 2008

Mr. Oliver

I enrolled in a music appreciation class when I was a high school student. Near the beginning of the semester, the teacher of the class took ill and a substitute, Mr. Oliver, replaced him. Mr. Oliver knew his subject well. He played us everything on the school record player from Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony to Peruvian [...]
Tooth Talk

October 8, 2008

Tooth Talk

I was having my teeth cleaned by the dental hygienist the other day when she offhandedly asked whether my children were also in the music industry. Fortunately, with my mouth wide open and filled with dental gear, I was only capable of answering with a few rather inarticulate and muffled noises. Otherwise, I might have [...]
What Good is Music

September 11, 2008

What Good is Music?

[Originally written and published in September 2002]. I lost no loved ones on 11 September 2001, nor was my home destroyed or my work affected in any palpable way by the tragic attack on our nation; and yet, the events of that morning have prodded me to look inward and take personal inventory. As a [...]
A Tale of Three Violinists

August 10, 2008

A Tale of Three Violinists

I stood in the artist’s dressing room, warming up nervously before my sole rehearsal with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. For a twenty-two-year-old violinist just starting a career, performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with this distinguished group of musicians was an important engagement. My palms were sweating, my heart beat rapidly, and I began to pace back [...]
Last Words to a Son

July 11, 2008

Last Words to a Son

Andrea, the head nurse at the assisted living home where my mother has lived for many years, called last month to tell me that mother had stopped eating, that she was drifting in and out of consciousness, and that she was failing rapidly. The next day, my son Alexej and I flew to Southern California [...]
A Dog's Tale

June 12, 2008

A Dog’s Tale

I’m a wonderful teacher. I know, you don’t have to tell me. It’s not nice to brag. But truth above all, I always say. Here. Let me show you why I’m so good. We have a dog named Tessa. As far as I can tell, Tessa doesn’t have much feeling for music one way or [...]
Remembering Izzy

May 10, 2008

Remembering Izzy

Photo by Allen Cohen Every one of us has to die. We know that. We also know that sooner or later all of us will be forgotten. Even Einstein. Even Beethoven. Nevertheless, we humans doggedly strive for meaning in our lives and harbor the secret (or not so secret) wish to accomplish something of sufficient [...]
A Noteworthy Day

March 2, 2008

A Noteworthy Day

I heard a great deal of music yesterday. Let me rephrase that. Yesterday, I heard a multitude of sounds—some longer, some shorter, higher or lower, louder or softer—as I made my way through my waking hours. The sounds appeared sometimes as individual tones and sometimes in groups of two and three. They often repeated themselves [...]
Solo Bow

February 2, 2008

Solo Bow

The Guarneri String Quartet played a concert in Wisconsin several years ago. Why do I remember that this particular concert was in Wisconsin? Probably because Wisconsin is a cheese-making state and a delicious selection of cheese was set out at the after-concert party. It’s funny what details remain vibrant in one’s mind, especially in light [...]
In the Key of Strawberry

January 1, 2008

In the Key of Strawberry

An unexpected thought interrupted the sentence I was reading in the morning newspaper, followed by several other thoughts in quick succession. I had just remembered last night’s dream: My wife, Dorothea, and I were riding on a bus in a foreign country. Through the window we espied an open-air flea market with an array of [...]
Hiroshi Iizuka

December 1, 2007

Cousin Sam

“How much time you giving me today, maestro?” This was more or less the way Sam began most of our phone conversations. Sam Schloss was my cousin, more specifically: my mother’s mother’s sister’s son. I would usually call him during a break in one of the open rehearsals the Guarneri String Quartet held during its [...]