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On Writing and Music

Last day of 2008–it’s snowing, I’m listening to the Classical Countdown on WQXR–#9 “most favorite work” is Verdi’s “Requiem”–a very special piece of music for me: oh, so, many years ago, my father shared his passion for it with me. Hearing it takes me back to 1967–my father was engaged in a heroic fight against cancer & had gone to Italy for treatment. But before he had decided to go to Italy, he had bought a ticket to hear singers from La Scala (yes, the opera company in Milan, Italy) perform Verdi’s Requiem in New York City ( yes, New York). I remember the ticket was $25. Determined and dying, my father, who was in Rome, Italy, with his ticket for the NY performance by an Italian opera company of Verdi’s “Requiem,” debated what to do. Finally he decided to buy a plane ticket back to NYC, attend the performance, return to Italy. His father condemned him for his extravagance. At the time, I was living in Buffalo, NY, and pregnant with my first child. I don’t really remember what I thought about my father’s decision, but I trust I cheered him on! I do remember that he was totally transported and thrilled by the performance, as I still am. Those of you, who have heard me talk about how I write every book to music know that it is a mystery to me which music will or won’t “work” with a particular manuscript. Verdi’s Requiem was 1/2 of the soundtrack for Corpses, Coffins, and Crypts: A History of Burial(named a Best of the Best Books for the 21st Century by the American Library Association). Only half because the writing/music would get too intense & I’d need to switch to of all things the music from a Broadway musical “Falsettos.” Strange combination, I know, & I thought so at the time, but what works, works. After too many holiday distractions, I’m finally back to writing Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship That Changed the World. Emmylou Harris’s CD “All I Intended To Be,” has become the “soundtrack.” Happy New Year to all!!!!!

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