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Friday, February 14 edition              
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this week's featured recording (2.14.20) 

Nocturne in e minor, op. 72

by Frederic Chopin

 This week on the blog:    Friday, February 14, 2020

It's not you, It's us

I may have been a little hard on Fred Chopin a couple of years ago. I shared a little waltz of his, which has since become a Valentine's Day staple around here, and suggested that he had written it in order to break up with his girlfriend--actually, to break off their engagement. It seemed better than a text message, but still.

I'm not sure now where I got the information that led me to that conclusion, but a Chopin biography I read more recently says that in fact Chopin very much wanted to marry the young woman, but her parents didn't think Chopin was marriage material, and they made her break it off. It was a distraught Chopin, then, that wrote that little waltz, not an irresponsible one.

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n the spring of 2005, several of my piano students got a short musical visit from an eccentric Frenchman named Erik Satie. Mr. Satie passed on in 1925 after a life of controversial artistic pursuits, some of which included short piano pieces. Among his first such pieces was a set of three he entitled "Gymnopedie". These odd little pieces seemed like just the thing for a creative voyage, because, as you'll hear in a moment, the pieces are very tuneful, and easy to grasp. That is not to say they will universally make a good impression on you--nor did they on my students. However, I like a challenge.

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Music Appreciation


I've never been a fan of the term "Music Appreciation," mainly because it sounds like it has a real PR problem.

I mean, this is the best we can do? Really?


Sounds like we're setting the bar a little low here, aren't we? We aren't hoping you'll actually like it, or be passionate about it, we're just hoping you'll build up a tolerance for it.


And yet, for decades, the terminology of choice in classrooms around the land to describe the curriculum to people who are often forced to have some kind of an encounter with music that does not come over the top-40 radio stations or is marketed at teenagers, is that strange little word: appreciate.


It sounds kind of academic, doesn't it? And just maybe, in the back of your mind, you are thinking about mom, who made you "appreciate" your vegetables when you were young or you wouldn't get any dessert.


Still, sad as that is, it isn't a unique philosophical use of the term. We are still trying to get people to appreciate each other, too.

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I hope you had an enjoyable Valentine's Day. It seems an appropriate time, somehow, to bring up the subject of The Match, which is a process Kristen and I are going through this year and will lead to some major changes in our lives. For my blog readers who do not know it, I am married to a double doctor--or will be. Kristen already has a PhD, and a shirt that reads "Trust me--I'm a doctor (of history)" which she thinks is hysterical. This spring she will graduate medical school and become what some people would call a "real" doctor. Meanwhile, given that I am a doctor of music, people have taken to calling us a "paradocs." We sure are.

Most people who are not medical doctors have never heard of The Match, which is why I will spend a few moments explaining it. Basically, it is a way for graduating medical students (who are now Doctors--academically, but as yet unlicensed by the state) to be matched with the Residency programs that will give them several years of training in their particular specialty. During that time they will also become licensed physicians who will be granted all the rights and privileges thereto, etc.

If you've not heard of it, you've got something in common with practically everyone. I hadn't heard of it either until a few years ago. It is a very strange process. It is also not very romantic, despite being known as The Match. For instance, you may have thought the application process consisted of notes like this being printed in medical journals:

MWFD seeks SATH [that's married white female doctor seeks state-of-the-art teaching hospital] for stimulating medical relationship.

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The Match

This article, appropriate for this time of year, was written three years ago and is for informational purposes as well as a trip down memory lane.