There are some classical piece that sound like movie soundtracks one of them is Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s (1844-1908) Scheherazade which takes one on an amazing music trip though the Arabian Nights. Romantic, stirring, seductive. It is classical music for people who don’t think they like classical music.  Rimsky-Korsakov work is full of Russian folk melody, rich in fairytale stories & nationalistic fervour. Listening to it you want to reach either for a samovar or a sabre.

I have three stand-alones: Orchestral Works excerpts from The Golden Cockerel, Capriccio espagnol – along with Mussorgsky’s Pictures. Orchestral Suites: The Snow Maiden, The Golden Cockerel, Mlada. Scheherazade which is paired with Borodin’s Polovestian Dances. These three cd’s make for a wonderful immersion into Russian music. Start with Scheherazade though.  

Ned Rorem (1923) I inherited hardcover, first editions, of his Paris & New York Diaries. He is a very out modern classical composer & the diaries are fun, smart, gossipy, sexy great reading that gave me a sense of time & place in his upper crusty milieu. I loved the diaries & he is pretty easy on the eye.   According to Wiki he’s still alive. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1976. Who knew there was a ç for Music?

In my collections I two stand-alones of his work. The cover of the Flute/Violin Concertos concertos features a drawing of Rorem by Jean Cocteau. You know, I’d much rather have my portrait done by Jean Cocteau than Andy Warhol. The other cd is of Chamber Music Suites: End of Summer, Book of Hours, Bright Music.

The music is at times sprightly, other times somber but it didn’t engage me. Too often modern classical music sounds more like class assignments as opposed to emotional response. “For your Masters please write a piece for these three instruments, chosen at random from a hat, Clarinet, Violin & Piano.” Then again Rimsky-Korsakov is a hard act to follow 🙂


“So you’ve never been inside the house.” Vasili unlocked the front door.

“Nope. I shovelled the sidewalk a few times though. We always wondered how rich your dad was.”


“Yeah, to own this house and live here all by himself. He told us he wanted a house for his family when he could bring them here. But I never figured out how he could afford it with just that repair shop of his, you know? Coaching the chess team was voluntary.”

“I have no idea either. It was a shock to find out he had such a large house. You know when the political climate changed we did finally get in touch with him. For the last few years we’d talked on the phone, exchanged photos.”

He opened the front door slowly pushing a pile of newspapers just on the other side of it back with his foot.

“This is how the house was when I arrived a few days ago. Funeral arraignments haven’t allowed me time to do anything with it.”

There was a narrow path though tidy piles of unopened boxes that had been stacked on either side of the hall, along the stairs.

“The whole house is like that. Dad had become a saver of things. I think started buying goods for us to have when he could bring us here but lacked the ability to decide what was of value. He wrote that he had so much to show us. He saved all these newspapers and magazines. The room that was to be mine is crammed with clothes  and toys he’d bought each year but never got rid of.”


Even with all the clutter the house was organized. We made our way though to the kitchen. It was stacked with sets of dishes still in boxes but it was spotless. I was expecting rotted food. The bathroom was clean though piled with towels and children’s bath products.

“As they wouldn’t let him send money to us he started to do this. When I first came in ….,” Vasili began to cry. “… I realized this is how he channeled his love for us while we were told there he had given up on us.”

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