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Selling a 300-Year-Old Cello
New York Times ^ | January 13, 2012 | Daniel J. Wakin

Posted on 01/15/2012 2:25:59 PM PST by billorites

On a cold day last winter, an ailing Bernard Greenhouse, wearing an elegant bathrobe and attached to oxygen, was wheeled into the living room of his Cape Cod home, which was festooned with paper cutouts of musical notes. Relatives and students, locals and caregivers had gathered to celebrate the 95th birthday of one of classical music’s most respected cellists, a founding member of the famed Beaux Arts Trio and a beloved teacher. Young cellists performed for him, and then Greenhouse indulged in a martini and a plate of oysters. Thus fortified, he decided he wanted to play for the company. He picked up his cello and, though a bit wobbly, rendered “Song of the Birds,” a Catalan folk melody transcribed by Casals, with whom he studied many years ago.

“And then he laid down the bow and praised the cello for its beauty,” Nicholas Delbanco, Greenhouse’s son-in-law, recounted. “He said it had been his lifelong companion and the darling of his heart.” Indeed, the instrument, known as the Countess of Stainlein, ex-Paganini of 1707 — perhaps the greatest surviving Stradivarius cello — had been with Greenhouse for 54 years. It was his voice on numerous recordings and a presence at up to 200 concerts a year. Toward the end of his life, Greenhouse asked his nurses to lay the instrument next to him in bed.

But in a twist of exquisite poignancy, Greenhouse was not actually playing his precious cello that day on Cape Cod. It was an exact replica that was made especially for him, a beautiful instrument but not the Strad. As they listened to him talk of his love for the cello, his daughter Elena grieved that he could not tell he was playing the substitute. “We knew that this was the beginning of the end,”

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Music/Entertainment
KEYWORDS:

Greenhouse and cello in 1975
1 posted on 01/15/2012 2:26:02 PM PST by billorites
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To: Borges

Pingy


2 posted on 01/15/2012 2:29:09 PM PST by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: billorites
Song of the Birds - Catalan folk song
3 posted on 01/15/2012 2:31:42 PM PST by Dysart (#Changeitback)
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To: billorites

Many complain they lack storage space.

But they should remember: there’s always room for a cello!


4 posted on 01/15/2012 2:32:34 PM PST by freedumb2003 (Spoiler Alert! The secret to Terra Nova: THEY ARE ALL DEAD!!!)
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To: billorites

Fascinating article. A Stradivarius turned up in a vault here in Milwaukee and was eventually sold to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Foundation for use by its concert master. When the concert master moves on, the violin stays here and is lent to the new CM.

A friend was invited by a business colleague of her husband’s to attend a private dinner at anunknown home on the east side. Access to this dinner had been purchased at a charity auction, so my friend did not know where she was going. After the guests had gathered for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the living room, the man of the house came down the stairs with a violin tucked under his arm. It was the symphony orchestra’s concert master, and he treated the guests to an hour’s worth of music played on the “new” Strad. My friend is NEVEER going to forget that evening.


5 posted on 01/15/2012 2:50:29 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

How was the sound quality of the “new” strad - esp compared to an original Strad?


6 posted on 01/15/2012 2:55:26 PM PST by newfreep (I am a "terrorist". I am Sarah Palin!)
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To: billorites
Bernard Greenhouse playing Song of the Birds
7 posted on 01/15/2012 2:57:03 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: newfreep

It was an original strad. I called it “new” because it was new to the orchestra and to the artist. This violin had been locked in a vault (thought lost) for 30 years and no one had heard it before.

The previous owner (a concert violinist) had left it in Milwaukee when she could no longer play. Apparently she used to “summer” here between tours, and she liked this town. I’m not sure that her heirs knew the instrument was here, but when they discovered it in the vault, they decided to sell. They had many stipulations about who should get it which is why everybody was pleased that the orchestra foundation raised the cash to buy it.


8 posted on 01/15/2012 3:02:51 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

One of my grandsons is playing cello. He’s five.


9 posted on 01/15/2012 3:03:05 PM PST by JustaDumbBlonde (Don't wish doom on your enemies ... plan it.)
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To: newfreep
Milwaukee Musician Acuires Legendary Lipinsky Stradivarius

This is a news account which is not exactly how I heard the story. Ownership is a little muddled in this account, but it's generally the same.

10 posted on 01/15/2012 3:09:05 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: JustaDumbBlonde

It’s gotto be bigger than he is, unless he is lucky enough to have a model sized for a child! My father’s twin sister played the cello, along with many other instruments.

My father was from a family of 9, raised on a ranch in CA. My grandmother had been a music missionary to the Choctaw tribe in Oklahoma Territory before she was married. So, she taught all of her own children different instruments. She wanted her children to be able to have an orchestra to entertain them in the evening.

All of the girls (my aunts) eventually taught music, but my dad never did anything with it. He would play the first page of The Swan beautifully and then claim that he didn’t feel like playing any more. My mother was married to him a year before she learned that he didn’t know how to play the piano at all. His sister had taught him one page and stopped.

His assigned instrument was the cornet, and he didn’t like it.


11 posted on 01/15/2012 3:17:02 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: billorites

Am I the only one who noticed in the article that his “wonderful family” STOLE HIS CELLO, had a replica made, and gave the old man the replica to play? And he never knew.

Obviously they see nothing wrong with this; in fact, they want to be congratulated for their treachery, the way they blather about it to the New York Times.

I’m pretty sure it’s called theft, conversion, and elder abuse, for starters.

I’ve heard of greedy kids, but this bunch takes the cake.


12 posted on 01/15/2012 3:40:27 PM PST by Blue Ink
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To: Blue Ink

Maybe they were greedy or maybe their dad was unstable and they were concerned he would fall with it. If he damaged it he would be heartbroken.

There are a lot of greedy kids around. If only this were the worst example. I could tell you stories that would make your hair stand on end.


13 posted on 01/15/2012 3:46:40 PM PST by ladyjane
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To: billorites

Great article, and thanks for posting it. Regarding the relationship between a musician, and his instrument,,,

I’ve played electric guitar and pedal steel for over 50 years. 1/2 of my income for sure. I played a Telecaster. One has to “dominate” a Tele. Great guitars, but you must be very firm with them to get what you want. I’m a finger-style player, so I’m somewhat of an oddball. I stopped in a music store in Streetsborrough, and there was a ‘57 Strat. Rattle-canned black, with the previous owner’s name in stick on post box letters. The guitar was amazing! I went back every day for 10 days before trading for it. The guitar spoke to me as a partner. I didn’t have to “dominate” it. It worked with me. The nuances of my style were presented by this guitar magnificently. No forcing it into submission. I’ll have it until I die, then my Sister will sell it at a garage sale for $25. Wonder what it will sound like when it’s 300 years old!
http://www.strat-talk.com/forum/pre-cbs-strats-before-1966/133498-my-57-a.html


14 posted on 01/15/2012 3:52:17 PM PST by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: ladyjane

I read once of a lady who was playing a duet whan she started to faint. The pianist junped up, grabbed her Strad, and let her fall.


15 posted on 01/15/2012 3:52:50 PM PST by CrazyIvan (Obama's birth certificate was found stapled to Soros's receipt.)
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To: billorites
There is a remarkable collection of rare violins including this Strad ; as well a one of two Stradivarius guitars and other musical instruments at the National Music Museum on the campus of the University of South Dakota, in Vermillion, SD.
16 posted on 01/15/2012 4:22:04 PM PST by The Great RJ ("The problem with socialism is that pretty soon you run out of other people's money" M. Thatcher)
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All contributions are for the
Current Quarter Expenses.


Donate Today!

17 posted on 01/15/2012 4:24:43 PM PST by RedMDer (Forward With Confidence!)
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To: billorites
Baddest Thing I Ever Done
Was Just To Be Your Fellow
That Didn't Seem To Work With You
What Happened To Your Mellow?
But You Don't Need This Can Of Beans
So Get Back To Your Magazines
Check What's On Page 92
There's A Recipe For Loving You

It's A Cookin' Little Recipe
All You're Needin' Is A Fellow
(you Need A Mighty Fellow)
Why Couldn't That Boy Be Me?
I'm As Mellow As A Cello But I Want To Know
How Come My Cello Don't Play For You?
It Needs To Play Or It Gets Blue
If It Don't Play A Song A Day
I Might As Well Throw The Thing Away
I Might As Well Throw This Thing Away

(Dan Hicks.)

18 posted on 01/15/2012 4:27:38 PM PST by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: freedumb2003

EXACTLY!


19 posted on 01/15/2012 4:40:04 PM PST by steveo
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To: freedumb2003
But they should remember: there’s always room for a cello!

C-E-L-L-O !

20 posted on 01/15/2012 4:46:20 PM PST by 6SJ7 (Meh.)
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To: ladyjane

“maybe their dad was unstable and they were concerned he would fall with it.”

It’s none of their business. It’s HIS cello and it’s HIS decision. There was no evidence he wasn’t of perfectly sound mind; there’s plenty of evidence he just wanted to play HIS damn cello.

And anytime you decide to abscond with your parents’ possessions to “protect” them, you better go in front of a judge and get him to agree, or you’re guilty of theft, elder abuse, and conversion.

They didn’t even float the idea by him!

How do you not see how wrong this is?


21 posted on 01/15/2012 5:02:57 PM PST by Blue Ink
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To: Dysart

That was nice. Do you know if the cello is playing the low bass notes or is that a bass?


22 posted on 01/15/2012 5:07:13 PM PST by Yardstick
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To: Blue Ink

They were very disrespectful (at the very least) to their father in their actions regarding his beloved cello. Terrible.


23 posted on 01/15/2012 5:09:58 PM PST by conservativguy99
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To: Yardstick

S. Isserlis cello solo— he uses gut strings, which produce that wicked sound.


24 posted on 01/15/2012 5:17:38 PM PST by Dysart (#Changeitback)
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To: Dysart

It is definitely a wicked sound. It’s chesty and woody and just has a great thrummm to it. He must be playing those bass notes on the open strings because he’s playing a melody line at the same time. At least that’s how I’d have to do it on guitar.

Do you know of any particularly good cello recordings that can be found on LP?


25 posted on 01/15/2012 5:28:40 PM PST by Yardstick
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To: Yardstick
Well, I am partial to Steven Isserlis, try Bach: The Cello Suites recording at Amazon.

Here's another sample from youtube: Steven Isserlis- J.S. Bach Cello Suite No. 2 in d minor; Prelude

I think you're right about his playing style on that first piece...I'v been looking for a video to confirm but not found it.

26 posted on 01/15/2012 5:53:47 PM PST by Dysart (#Changeitback)
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To: Yardstick
You'll really like this, I think: Steven Isserlis-Nocturne Op.19-4_P.I.Tchaikovsky
27 posted on 01/15/2012 5:56:26 PM PST by Dysart (#Changeitback)
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To: 6SJ7

But they should remember: there’s always room for a cello!
C-E-L-L-O !

I think you have to be a bit old to get that one, I am. LOL!
(didn’t that originate on the Jack Benny show?)


28 posted on 01/15/2012 6:11:46 PM PST by CrazyIvan (Obama's birth certificate was found stapled to Soros's receipt.)
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To: Dysart

Both of those youtube recordings were really nice. I found this LP on eBay of Isserlis from 1989:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RARE-VIRGIN-DIGITAL-1989-Elgar-Bloch-STEVEN-ISSERLIS-Cello-HICKOX-VC-7-90735-1-/360413399680?pt=Music_on_Vinyl&hash=item53ea500a80

Are you familiar with it?


29 posted on 01/15/2012 6:20:36 PM PST by Yardstick
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To: Yardstick

No, I’m not but that’s really quite a find.


30 posted on 01/15/2012 6:27:18 PM PST by Dysart (#Changeitback)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Why oh why did they release this recording?


31 posted on 01/15/2012 6:28:31 PM PST by mwilli20 (BO. Making communists proud all over the world.)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra
I’ll have it until I die, then my Sister will sell it at a garage sale for $25. Wonder what it will sound like when it’s 300 years old!

I predict that the speakers in the amp will need to be reconed, and the electrolytics replaced.

≤}B^)

32 posted on 01/15/2012 6:37:59 PM PST by Erasmus (Rage, rage, against the dying of the light. Or, get out your 50mm/1.2.)
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To: CrazyIvan

I was at a concert of the Chicago Symphony (on tour, in 1971). Solti at the podium and the young (and destined to die far too soon) Michael Rabin was on the program with the Tchaikovsky violin concerto.

The first piece was Bruckner’s 7th. Near put me to sleep—maybe I wasn’t ready for Bruckner at that point. Anyway, the violinist on the front row to the conductor’s right had a string break. She immediately handed it over her shoulder to the violinist behind her, and took that performer’s instrument. It was almost as if they had drilled the exchange in the past. Then it was up to the second-row violinist to restring the instrument and get back in action before the end of the movement.


33 posted on 01/15/2012 6:44:57 PM PST by Erasmus (Rage, rage, against the dying of the light. Or, get out your 50mm/1.2.)
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To: Erasmus
Do they rehearse emergencies like this? Got me, I'm just a small time choir member! If I'm not mistaken, the incident I am referring to happened at The International Tchaikovsky Competition. On second thought, I am not sure I read it. My choir director may have been there. I wouldn't be surprised, he was turning pages for E. Powers Biggs at age 12, so he's been there and seen (heard) that!
34 posted on 01/15/2012 6:59:19 PM PST by CrazyIvan (Obama's birth certificate was found stapled to Soros's receipt.)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra

I can totally relate. I had two Ibanez guitarsz, one a Strat copy, one a Les Paul copy. Both had the ugliest brown finish that looked painted on, just hideous. But the feel of the necks were both perfect. Back when CD players were extremely expensive and I couldnt afford one. I traded the Paul copy for one. I still regret it decades later. I still have the Strat copy.


35 posted on 01/15/2012 7:04:12 PM PST by Big Giant Head (Two years no AV, no viruses, computer runs great!)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra

I can totally relate. I had two Ibanez guitarsz, one a Strat copy, one a Les Paul copy. Both had the ugliest brown finish that looked painted on, just hideous. But the feel of the necks were both perfect. Back when CD players were extremely expensive and I couldnt afford one. I traded the Paul copy for one. I still regret it decades later. I still have the Strat copy.


36 posted on 01/15/2012 7:04:22 PM PST by Big Giant Head (Two years no AV, no viruses, computer runs great!)
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To: CrazyIvan

Here’s another anecdote about string instruments in danger.

In 1987, Solti and the Chicago embarked on a U.S. tour that turned out to be the “tour from Hell.”

Their instruments arrived late to a concert in SanFran, so in the meantime Maestro Solti improvised a little Mozart recital at the piano.

Then they were on their way to Austin for the next concert, where we had tickets. On the afternoon of the concert, the semi got blown over by a west Texas wind, and an emergency semi had to be dispatched to retrieve the instruments.

We found this out that evening at concert time, when CSO manager Henry Vogel stepped onto the stage and announced that there would be delay for the reasons mentioned above. My friend and I stayed around of course, hoping that the concert could still go on before the night was through.

After an hour or so, we wandered out of the hall and back around to the loading dock. Some of the musicians were there too. Evidently they had word that the substitute truck and driver were soon to arrive. The owners of the larger instruments (such as the double basses) were understandably worried sick about possible damage to their instruments. Members of the U.T. faculty and of the Austin S.O. had rushed to the hall, ready to lend their instruments to any CSO member whose own was damaged in the crash. This turned out to be necessary for several of the players.

Finally, the truck arrived. It took an agonizing 15 minutes for the semi driver to maneuver his trailer to the dock, due to its really dumb layout. The driver was 50-something, with an open silk shirt and bling that made it look like he’d been called away from a disco.

I stood next to this tall somwhat elderly gentleman with wavy, thinning blond hair as we watched the instruments being unloaded. He remarked, “I’m glad I can take my instrument with me on the plane.” His instrument, as it turns out, was the trumpet; and his name was Adolph Herseth, principal trumpet of the CSO since 1948.

Anyway, about an hour later, Mr Herseth played the beginning notes of the signature piece of the CSO: Mahler’s 5th Symphony. After all the tension and confusion, the performance blasted right through you.


37 posted on 01/15/2012 7:08:49 PM PST by Erasmus (Rage, rage, against the dying of the light. Or, get out your 50mm/1.2.)
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To: Dysart

I’ll probably snag it.


38 posted on 01/15/2012 7:14:17 PM PST by Yardstick
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To: Erasmus

Wow.

I had the privilege of hearing Sir Georg Solti conduct the SF Symphony in 1994 (or 95?), not long after Immortal Beloved was released. I’m not sure how he was credited on the soundtrack, but it was amazing. Unfortunately, Yo Yo Ma did not tour with him, but to this day, I can hear Ma’s rich opening notes to Ode to Joy.

It was exquisite.


39 posted on 01/15/2012 7:39:25 PM PST by bootless (Never Forget. Never Again. (PursuingLiberty.com))
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To: Big Giant Head; Erasmus

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/03/peter-frampton-reunited-with-best-guitar-after-31-years/


40 posted on 01/16/2012 6:35:56 AM PST by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra

I heard Peter Frampton interviewed on NPR this past week talking about his long-lost guitar. Great story.


41 posted on 01/16/2012 8:20:22 AM PST by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: Erasmus
"maybe I wasn’t ready for Bruckner at that point..."

I know the feeling. I always consider Bruckner to be sort of Philip Glass for the 'thinking man'.

42 posted on 01/16/2012 8:25:00 AM PST by billorites (freepo ergo sum)
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To: billorites

I sent the story to a friend that I’ve recorded with. He has played with Frampton many times, so he twittered him. Here’s Peter’s answer;

“Thanks Neil. I’ll date myself by saying it’s pretty trippy! Surreal is another word that comes to mind. Who’d a thunk?!”


43 posted on 01/16/2012 8:40:08 AM PST by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Agree re: fascinating article. And you have a good story too. I just finished having a semi-grand harp fixed that I got from an elderly woman in Florida. I plan to learn to play it, which hopefully shouldn’t be too impossible given that I already play the piano.


44 posted on 01/16/2012 8:51:25 AM PST by midnightcat
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To: Blue Ink

It’s more likely that he used the replica cello as a practice instrument. I could see not wanting to use something so precious every day! And that might be what his daughter meant about why it was so sad he couldn’t tell the difference. Not that they were trying to set him up to look stupid.


45 posted on 01/16/2012 8:59:03 AM PST by JenB
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To: midnightcat

Oh, be still my heart! I love the harp, and I always wished that my daughter would learn to play that instrument. (She is a music teacher with 2 degrees and already plays many instruments.) I once lived in a town where the high school owned 2 harps (willed to them) and would loan one to any student willing to learn to play it. The other harp remained at school for the student to use at school. Unfortunately, we moved away before my daghter got to HS, or she would have been on track to apply for the privilege.


46 posted on 01/16/2012 9:09:37 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

I always loved the harp and never imagined I would ever own one. But my aunt met an elderly lady who had to get rid of hers and was willing to give it to someone who would otherwise never get a chance. So I bought it and had it moved to NJ, saved to get the money to fix the neck, and now need to move on to the next phase to see if I can learn to play it. The elderly woman has since passed away....but I promised her I would learn to play it and I intend to keep my promise :)

What a lucky school district that was that had the instrument! You don’t hear of that too often.


47 posted on 01/16/2012 11:44:47 AM PST by midnightcat
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To: midnightcat

Lucky you! My daughter has some association with the Harp Society (no their exact name) in Richmond, VA and my granddaughter wanter to learn to play. But, then my granddaughter changed her mind and it never happened. She’s now playing the flute and the piano. I don’t remember how my daughter knew all those harpists — I think she was teaching music theory to them. She’s now teaching full time at a Catholic school — music from K-8. She loves it, but scheduling is really hard. She has all the vocal ensembles, as well as the regular classes. Every child in the school is her student, but she’s see them only once a week. Throw in Holidays and snow days and and sick days and sometimes she meets with them only 3-4 times during a semester, and then they move on.


48 posted on 01/16/2012 1:55:44 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: midnightcat
What a lucky school district that was that had the instrument! You don’t hear of that too often.

No. This was a school district in a wealthy enclave in CA -- Piedmont. Somebody had willed the harps to the school with instructions on how they were to be used. I found out about it because I went to a tea in somebody's home and whe had a large living room with TWO harps in it, and she told me that one of them was a loaner from the school. Her daughter was the lucky harpist that year and she told me about the program. That was 40 years ago, so I don't know how those instruments have fared over the years. I certainly hope that they are still being played.

49 posted on 01/16/2012 2:10:42 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
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To: Blue Ink

Some time ago, Mr. Greenhouse had had an extensive restoration of his cello done to correct and stabilize some old repairs and problems. This was a very difficult and complicated restoration that took two years. The copy was made around that time, if I recall correctly, so that he would have something to play during this process.

So, I don’t think the children were trying to trick him with a fake to steal the original. Also, his insurance might not have covered having or playing the cello in certain situations, like at a vacation house or at a medical facility.


50 posted on 04/24/2012 4:19:54 AM PDT by musicsnob
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