At ground level

A column about LIFE

Playing the piano evokes a moment “when I feel that speech is nothing after all”

It was a proud moment for me when I listened to my daughter play “Für Elise” this morning. It was just her second piano recital, and she performed even better than the first time.

I’ve always liked “Für Elise” by Ludwig van Beethoven. It’s a simple piece which I remember playing when I started piano lessons decades ago. The short, romantic piece evokes much emotion for which Beethoven’s pieces are well known.

The story behind this musical composition is clouded in mystery. There’s been much speculation about for whom he wrote the piece. The English translation is “For Elise,” though historians say there appears to have been no one in his life named Elise at the time he composed the piece. Some say his handwriting was misread and it actually meant “For Therese,” a woman with whom he was deeply in love at the time and whom he intended to marry, but it never happened. In any case, it’s a pretty piece and when one listens to it. It can’t help but stir our emotions because it’s so moving and beautiful.

As I listened to the little more than a minute-long rendition, I was glad I bought my piano and happy that my daughter likes playing it. It takes up much space in our living room, but the melodies from this instrument can be quite entertaining and many times, even soothing.

It pained me that I had to leave behind my beautiful piano when I moved to California. Not having it around made me feel like our home was incomplete. Then, when I considered purchasing a new one last year, I worried where I would put my Christmas tree because the piano would take so much room. A friend told me, “The piano will make you happy all year long. You can worry about the Christmas tree in December.”

So I bought the piano, and it all worked out in the end. Like the miracle of the five loaves and two fish, somehow, there was more than enough space. I managed to fit everything nicely – the piano, the Christmas tree, and even a new treadmill – all in the same room!

Having a piano warms my heart. Sometimes, I’m afraid to sit down by the piano because once I do, I find myself playing the instrument till the wee hours of the morning. I would never get anything else done. Like writing and reading a book, it transports me to another place and calms me. When playing the piano, I get to soak in the loveliness and pure beauty of music, and I feel much like Beethoven wrote in one of his love letters:

“My heart is full of many things… there are moments when I feel that speech is nothing after all.”

I’m glad my mother made me take lessons. I think my daughter is beginning to feel the same way.

June 4, 2011 - Posted by | Family, Parenting | , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Hi Rose,

    Many congratulations to your Daughter, it’s an exquisite piece, easy/intermediate to learn but very difficult to master.
    You play the piece yourself too? May I ask, do you play a ‘D’ (2nd note G clef) in measure 7, and the analgous measures, as Beethoven scribed?

    I just posted a blog about the notation, you and your Daughter might find it interesting.

    http://todayisdifferent.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/to-e-or-not-to-e-isnt-the-question/

    I hope you always find a place for your piano.

    Best wishes, Keith.

    Comment by McCade | June 19, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you, Keith. That’s a very interesting piece you wrote. So much mystery shrouds the life of this brilliant musician! I do love his pieces.

      Comment by rosemeily | June 19, 2011 | Reply


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