Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Book With History



Have you ever bought a used book and noticed an inscription inside? I just bought a used book of Brahms pieces on Amazon. I already own a copy of this music but it happens to be in storage, so I bought a second version to work from in the meantime, as I revisit some pieces I've been studying and playing on and off for years. Brahms is my favorite composer and this book is filled with some of my favorite music in the world, so I am happy to have this redundancy in my music library.

When I opened the book, I noticed this little inscription on the inside.




Happy 74th! Wow. The image these words conjured for me is such a sweet one--a little old man, working on Brahms Rhapsodies, his gnarly fingers finding the notes and his heart finding joy. I don't have any idea if this man was a trained pianist, or just loved music; if he taught himself or took lessons; if Brahms was his favorite composer among many, or if learning these specific Rhapsodies was a lifelong pursuit for him.

I imagine that the reason this book was for sale was because this man, Mort, has since passed away (judging by the date, he would be well into his upper eighties by now). Sadder still, maybe he's still out there but has stopped playing the piano in the last years of his life. It will always be a mystery but I'm thankful to have this book for myself. There is something so intimate about an inscription like this--there's a story and a history in the pages, and shared beauty between two strangers who love Brahms.





15 comments:

  1. Kate, I love this!

    When I was a little girl, my grandmother lived in a big old mansion and she used to let me prowl around in the attic. I found an old book of music up there with a name written on the fly leaf in pencil (Margaret, and now I forget the last name) and then the date, 1912. I was enthralled. And even better, I found a dried-out rose pressed between the pages. You wouldn't believe how much that book stirred up my imagination, how much time I spent wondering who this Margaret was and what the significance of that rose was (I was a little romantic, like all young girls are!). I had the book for years, but somewhere along the way--when I got married and moved away from home, and then my parents moved out of the house I'd grown up in--it got lost.

    I've never known how to play any instrument, so the music didn't mean much to me. But I loved that book!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a beautiful story! Yes, the imagination involved in finding an old book with history is so much fun. And that date! 1912! It's so wonderful discovering old things.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is so lovely! What a beautiful peek into somebody else's life. How special to have a shared connection with a collection of music that meant so much. It's fun to imagine the stories that go along with it. :) Enjoy the Brahms!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, Sarah, you're so right! It really is a peek into somebody else's life, even if I'm filling in the details with my imagination! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. So sweet!

    I played that Brahms rhapsody in college!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Love it! I played the second one, Op. 79 No. 2.

    ReplyDelete
  7. i long to own a used book with a personalized inscription like this. we have a couple of used book shops in our area that i've been meaning to explore, so hopefully i'll find something to add to my library.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, Sarah, you're so right! It really is a peek into somebody else's life, even if I'm filling in the details with my imagination! :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. that is so lovely! when my grandmother died last spring and we went through her apartment picking the things we wanted to keep, I got a special thrill when I discovered that this book or another that I had chosen had an inscription to her in them. It's a way of keeping her with me :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. 74th. Wow. How lucky that you have that book. I always leave notes in books when I gift them. This makes me so happy that I do. What a conversation piece for you! This makes me feel the need to scour through the used bookstores immediately!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh how beautiful! I'm glad you have those books to remember her by, and perhaps to get to know her in a new way.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I always inscribe books, too. It's fun to rediscover books I've given to my husband over the years and see what I wrote inside! Same with books he's given me.

    ReplyDelete

Your comments bring me joy! I do my best to respond to each one either on the blog or via email (if your email is linked to your comment). Thank you for visiting Something Ivory.

Designed by Jackie's Design Studio