Monday, June 30, 2008

Letters from the past

Leonard Pennario's brother, Dr. Joseph Pennario, has been nice enough to pass on to me a pile of letters that were sent to Leonard over the years. Many of them come from famous conductors, some from famous actors. There is a dinner invitation from Cole Porter. It says, "Just a reminder that Cole Porter expects you at dinner at 8:30. Cocktails at 8."

Why don't we live life like that these days?

Among the letters are a good number of notes from noteworthy friends of Leonard's complimenting him on concerts he gave. One of these notes comes from Mary Costa, the beautiful singer who became famous as the voice of the original Disney "Sleeping Beauty." She and Leonard were good friends. I am hoping to talk to her for my book.

Ms. Costa has a beautiful handwriting. "Dearest Leonard," she writes. "I shall never forget last nite. You are so greatly blessed that I am absolutely hypnotized listening to you. There is such color, style and imagination in all that you do. I couldn't sleep when I got home I was so inspired. God bless you always and please consider me another of the many who adore you. Mary."

What a gracious note! I love the idea of writing to someone like that, someone you know who gave a great concert. Once I wrote to my piano teacher, Stephen Manes, about a Beethoven concert he gave in Slee Hall. I still remember this concert. He did the beautiful Sonata Op. 109, which is my favorite. It is Leonard's favorite too. We used to talk about that. Leonard loved playing that sonata.

Where was I? All roads lead to Leonard Pennario. I was talking about this concert at Slee. Anyway, the next day I was still thinking about it. It was like this glass of red wine I once had at Brodo, on Elmwood. That glass of wine was so good that the next day I was still thinking about it, getting pleasure just remembering it. That was sort of the way it was with this concert.

So I took time out from my hectic day at work to write a note. I had this pad on my desk so I pulled it over and just wrote to Stephen how awesome I thought his concert was. We should all get in the habit of doing things like that, even when we don't know the person that well. We should all write more notes in general. It is one of those niceties that have fallen by the wayside.

We should cultivate nicer handwriting, too. All the people who wrote to Pennario have beautiful writing. Well, Miklos Rozsa's is kind of tough to read, and Clifford Curzon, the British pianist, had a kind of scrawl I'm having trouble with. But most of his friends have writing that reflects the glamour of their age. We can bring a litte of that back.

As soon as I get home I am going to start working at that.


Anonymous said...

Great post.

Anonymous said...

I concur with B-Jenn...