Dr. N.A.N.'s Blog

News, views, and how the world skews from San Antonio, Texas

Archive for February, 2008

New Additions – Brahms and more

Brahms at the piano Since I’m a pianist, some of my readers have asked me to share some of what I do for a living on the site. So I’m happy to oblige. Look to your right and you’ll see a sidebar called “Dr. NAN’s Performances.” Which is just what they are – both recordings taken from some of my solo recitals, as well as some of my CD recordings. The first two are taken from a solo performance I did here in Lincoln a while back – a couple of the wonderful late piano works of Johannes Brahms. Hope you like it. I’ll be updating the sidebar from time to time with more music so stay tuned!

Deborah Reinhardt, 1951-2007

Deborah ReinhardtMaybe there really is something to the adage “only the good die young.” I just learned about the recent death in a car accident of one of the founding members of The Cat House here in Lincoln, Nebraska. Deborah Reinhardt was one of the key movers in TCH when it was first started back in 1999. She eventually moved to Chico, California to join the music education faculty at Chico State University but her contributions continue to be felt to this day.
Not only did I know her through The Cat House, I also had the pleasure of working alongside her at the University of Nebraska. Deb was an extraordinarily talented and intelligent person. She was an expert in the Dalcroze method of music instructions, as well as a beautiful needleworker, vocalist, pianist, gardener, baker and lover of kitties.

No task was ever too big or too difficult for Deb. She could lay carpet, strip furniture, roof a house and guide a classroom full of students. She was even a winner on Jeopardy! many years ago. I was in awe of her intelligence.
Deb Reinhardt will be sadly missed by The Cat House community. Her needlework still hangs here in Lincoln, and her contribution of ideas and enthusiasm to our organization will never be forgotten.
Deb’s death is the third loss to The Cat House of wonderful volunteers who died too young. Evette McPherson and Linda Vavrus were two other very committed members of our organization who passed away too soon. This kind of tragedy always inspires a renewal of my dedication to TCH. If you haven’t already, please visit our website: http://www.thecathouse.org. It is truly an amazing group dedicated to the welfare of cats and kittens!

Claude Françaix

Dr. NAN & Claude FrancaixLast time I was in Paris, I had the opportunity to meet one of the daughters of composer Jean Françaix. Claude Françaix lives in Orléans, but makes frequent visits to Paris to care for her ailing mother and her mother’s two pets.

We met over tea and ice cream (from Berthillion, where else?). She shared many funny stories about her father and gave me some insight into his way of thinking about music and life. Claude explained that her father loved ambiguity in all things. For instance, when she was born, Monsieur Françaix declared that she should be called Claude because of the ambiguity of the name itself. He wanted the world to wonder if she was a little boy or a little girl. When her sister was born, he tried the same thing but their mother would have nothing to do with it!

Claude also told me when Jean Françaix was a young man, he would occasionally accompany a choir that his mother conducted. He was appalled at the choir’s lack of intonation and noticed that the only person singing in tune was a young girl. He later claimed that he chose that young girl to be his wife because she sang in tune!

For most of the meeting, we spoke French. I had asked my parents to participate so that when I had difficulty with either comprehension or articulation, they could help with translation. Although they seemed interested at the beginning, somewhere in the middle of our conversation, I looked over to see my father with his head drooped, quietly napping. I then turned to my mother who was valiantly trying to stay awake! So I still wonder if I understood everything Claude was saying…

At one point, Claude described to me the apartment that her parents shared. She said that it is practically a museum filled with most of her father’s memorabilia. Can you imagine the treasure trove it must contain? Her mother continues to live in it but prefers not to have any visitors. What I would give to poke around in Jean Françaix’s home of many years!
We ended our meeting with a promise to stay in touch and for Claude to send me more stories about her father. She also gave me a CD that she and her father had recorded of his works for two pianos. The playing was lovely and the ensemble was very tight. And I know a little something about this, having recorded my share of two-piano CDs..

Talking to Claude felt like I was sitting across from history itself. Here was a woman who knew Jean Françaix intimately, had spent much of her life learning from him and had even made music with him. I look forward to meeting with Claude again, immersing myself in more of Jean Françaix and maybe even getting the chance to snoop around his old home.