“What is the meaning of “Liebestraum?” Dad queried, as we listened to the Romantic piano piece by Franz Liszt. “Sounds like something to do with sleep.”
Consulting the chapter on Liszt in my favorite book about classical composers, The Gift of Music, I replied, “It means Dream of Love in German.” I continued reading that at the height of Liszt’s popularity (1840-1848), his concert audiences were thrilled with the theatrics of his “startling outfits,” quivering lips and palpitating nostrils, as he played his amazing music.
“Let’s read about Debussy since he wrote “Claire de Lune,” said Dad. “It’s my favorite because I’ve listened to Margaret play it a thousand times. And don’t forget Beethoven. I remember listening to Margaret play “Fur Elise” over and over while I worked in the vegetable garden.”
During the last few days, Dad and I have listened to hours of classical music, while I read aloud about the great composers from The Gift of Music, by Jane Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson. We pondered the disorganization in Beethoven’s life that caused him to move at least seventy times during the thirty-five years he lived in Vienna. We were saddened to learn that Debussy, an atheist, lived a life of “extreme intemperance,” and was lazy about everything except his music. We rejoiced in Dvorak, a simple man, whose favorite place to write music was in his kitchen, surrounded by family, and who credited his musical genius as “the gift of God.” Dad and I concluded that while none of the composers were perfect, we very much admire and appreciate their music.
Dad says that the CD’s his sister, Margaret, sent him have brought back such good memories—happy memories of listening to these masterpieces on the radio, as a family, when they lived on East Main Street in Denison. The familiar melodies, “Leibestraum,” “Claire de Lune,” and “Fur Elise,” are the ones that he listens to again and again. They are his favorites because he loved to hear his sister practice the pieces while he hoed weeds in the garden. Dad sends his thanks, Aunt Margaret, for the gift of music.