Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yuri and me

Lillie - from Lenoard Pennario's private photo collection.

This morning I set the alarm for 5:30 a.m. I am not sure how early I can push it, because my job sometimes makes me work nights, but I worry that I'm getting so behind. My friends are getting mad at me because I can't make time to get together. I have a new nephew I haven't even seen since I got back from California. I mean, I saw him before that, but only once.

Right now I am looking into a summer Leonard Pennario spent at Tanglewood where he gave recitals and had a hilarious conversation with the composer Olivier Messiaen, who was the big composer in residence that summer. I love how Pennario goes through life. His sense of humor will be the big reason this book will not be stuffy like other books on music I have run across.

Working on this chapter, one thing I did was call this conductor with an extremely long Russian last name who was studying conducting with Bernstein at Tanglewood the summer Pennario was there. I would need another cup of coffee if I were going to try to spell his last name this instant, so let's just go with his first name, which is Yuri. Come on, what else would it be?

Yuri and I ended our phone interview with this exchange:

Me: "Maestro, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me."

Maestro Yuri (In devastating accent): "Madame, the pleasure is all mine. You have allowed me to relive a part of my life I have not thought about for a very long time." He accented the second syllable of "Madame." I was swooning.

I called Pennario. He said, "Yep, that's him." He said Yuri has always been a big charmer.

I'm thinking Leonard, what about you??

I guess it is worth getting up at 5:30 a.m. if I am going to have conversations right out of "Dr. Zhivago." This book is turning my life into a movie.

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