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TO MUSIC - AN ANTHOLOGY



To Music an Anthology cover

 

‘TO MUSIC’ is an anthology of memoirs, essays, poems and fictional stories. Some have changed lives, some have changed minds, and some reveal historically significant attitudes. A few are related to the influence of music in our lives. 

Although most of us enjoy music, few people seem to be aware of its beneficial physical impact on the brain. Researchers believe that early musical experiences intensify the development of neural synapses. By increasing the number and interactions between brain cells, music essentially enhances a child’s ability to think, learn, reason and create.

New research suggests that playing a musical instrument during adulthood is significantly associated with reduced risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.

 

In Store Price: $27.95 
Online Price:   $26.95

 

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ISBN: 978-0-6480998-6-4
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 262
Genre: Fiction

Cover: Clive Dalkins


Author
-
  Dulcie M. Stone
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published:  2017
Language: English


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About the Author

 

 

Dulcie May Stone, born Dulcie May White in Melbourne 1924, has won acclaim as an author, educator and campaigner for people with disabilities. She has been awarded an MBE for service to the handicapped (1981), was selected International Woman of the Year in 1996/97, was included in the Outstanding People of the Twentieth Century Selection and, with her late husband, received an Apostolic Blessing in 1989.

INTRODUCTION

 

‘As the autumn leaves fall and wither, so does my heart.’

Ludwig van Beethoven – Excerpt from a letter to his brother, during the period when he was seriously handicapped by growing deafness.

 

I started learning to play the piano when I was seven. Weekends and after school I practised scales and arpeggios while the other children played in the street. Most days they stood outside our front fence and jeered. Although I was often lonely, I had no choice. My mother insisted.

Eight years later I was practising scales and arpeggios because I loved playing the piano. Although Beethoven sonatas were my favourites, every time I attempted a runs of complex chords my arms went into painful paralysing spasms. Heartbroken, I was forced to abandon any ideas of a career in music.

After leaving school my life experiences were: student teacher; assistant kindergarten supervisor; laboratory assistant entangled in World War Two espionage; worker in a variety of mundane jobs; mother of three children; and frequent hospital patient with unhappy outcomes.

When I was thirty-five, my true vocation found me. After offering to be a volunteer at the Mildura Day Training Centre for Retarded Children and Adults, I was appointed to the salaried position of Centre Supervisor. As a result, my experience broadened to include: special education; adult education; psychology; psychiatry; honorary probation officer; board-of-management member on various committees; occasional concert singer and pianist; television appearances.  

 When I was fifty-eight, a lucky chance took me to see a sports chiropractor who diagnosed a spinal cord problem. After treatment, I resumed piano lessons and finally mastered the difficult Beethoven sonatas which had changed the direction of my teenage life. Now in my nineties, I practise the piano every day.   

‘TO MUSIC’ is the first story in this anthology of fictional stories, poems, memoirs and essays. Some have changed lives, some have changed minds, and others reveal historically significant attitudes. All have challenged my ability to effectively communicate.   

 

Note: Deepest apologies for use of the outdated word ‘retarded’.


Read a sample:

 

 

To Music 

 

She knew that when the music stopped, he would die. She knew because he’d told her.

‘Six months. A year at most.’ The surgeon had been blunt. ‘I’m sorry.’

They’d crept back to the car, into the house, into the bedroom.

‘You mustn’t cry.’ He’d held her. Long long hours he’d held her.

In the morning, the next morning, he’d told her, ‘You must never stop playing your piano. I couldn’t tolerate that. Never. No matter how bad I get – don’t stop playing.’

How could she play?

‘Don’t argue,’ he’d insisted. ‘It will keep me going. Your music is my life.’

         

Her music. Her music had brought them together. She’d been playing at the Concert Hall. The audience, sophisticated and mature, had appreciated the subtleties of her exquisite Chopin.

He’d been waiting at the dressing room door. ‘I’m Jonathon Morris.’

It had meant nothing.

He’d laughed.

He’d laughed, deep and warm and resonant. The magic of Beethoven, the wit of Mozart. Her world had turned upside down.

‘I’m sorry.’ She’d held the door open. ‘I really do not know who Jonathon Morris is.’

‘I write.’

‘I write.’ Off-hand. Casual. Yet proud. Oh so proud.

‘I’m sorry,’ she’d repeated, foolishly embarrassed. ‘I have little time to read.’

‘Why should you? You are music.’

She’d blushed. Thirty-one years old, worldly wise. And she’d blushed.

‘What about Beethoven?’ He’d escorted her from the room, through the foyer, out into the midnight street. ‘Do you play Beethoven?’

 

They’d married within the year. There were to be no children.

‘You must never give up your music,’ he’d insisted. ‘Nothing should stop you playing.’

‘Not even your child?’

‘Your music is my child.’

                

The years had flown. Loving and sharing. His writing, her music. Both successful, each lauded in their separate discipline. A balance of excellence.

Until the first shallow cough rang its knell in her terrified heart. She knew the sound. Too well she knew it.   

He’d laughed. He’d laughed his beautiful heart-breaking laugh. ‘Don’t be such a fusspot. Your father had lung cancer. I have smoker’s cough.’

Same thing. Same thing.

 

Six months.

The surgeon had been wrong.

He was alive and well and happy and writing.

This morning, as every morning of almost her entire life, she practised: scales, arpeggios, exercises, and Beethoven. For him she played Beethoven.

In his chair at the desk by the south window, he set down his pen, leaned back, closed his eyes. Listened.

 

 

Nine months.

The surgeon had not been wrong.

He was alive, confined to bed.

This morning, as every morning, the nurses came, left.

She played Beethoven. The scales and the arpeggios and the exercises could wait. Would wait.

In his bed in the arch of the south window where his desk had been he closed his eyes. He listened.

                  

The nurses begged. ‘You have to persuade him to go to the hospital.’

‘It’s no use…’

‘But he should be in hospital!’

‘It’s no use…’

 

On his bed by the south window where his desk had been, the covers were almost flat. On the pillow, sunken eyes, fever-brilliant, lit his parchment face.

She played Beethoven. Every morning, as every morning of almost her entire life, she played piano.

‘You are music,’ his thin dry lips whispered. ‘You must always play.’

        

‘You can’t go on like this.’ The nurses, the doctors, her friends, their families. ‘You’re worn out.’

‘Of course I’m worn out!’

‘You must give up your concerts,’ they insisted. ‘You can’t keep going.’

‘It’s all we have left. He’ll know if I miss one.’   

                             

A year and one week and two days.

So long!

‘Good morning, Jon.’ She kissed his fleshless forehead.

His fetid breath, dying, whispered on her cheek.

‘Sssh…’ she cautioned. ‘Don’t try to talk.’

He motioned a single, fleshless, finger.

She moved to habitual obedience. ‘I’ll play.’

She pulled out the piano stool, placed her strong virtuoso’s hands on the lifeless keys. How I hate Beethoven.

Her fingers rebelled.

From the bed, a sigh.

Play for him. I must play for him.

The fingers could not move, would not.

She turned from the piano.

The flat sheet stirred, faintest of faint breath of expectation. The music, merciless, would yet again cheat Death.

‘I’m sorry.’ She closed the lid of the piano.

      

The dead piano, the merciful funeral – and pain-free days. Nothing assuaged guilt. She should not have denied him. Death had won, music lost.

The pain-freed bed remained by the south window. The piano remained silent.

‘You have to take up your own life again.’ Friends and families consoled. ‘He’d have wanted that.’

 But how?

 

Midnight. 

The dark sky without light, the shadowed room without life.

If only I’d kept playing. She stood by the piano.

I can’t. She rested her head on the polished timber.

The midnight breeze whispered on her cheek.

‘Jonathon!’ Sweet imagination.

The breeze grew stronger.

She raised the lid of the piano. I’m sorry. I should have kept playing. Forgive me…

‘Sssh…’ The breeze, sweet as music, free as death, sighed.

She sat on the piano stool and her strong virtuoso’s hands stirred the lifeless keys and she practised scales and arpeggios and exercises.

She played Chopin.

And the breeze was silent.

 

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