When our family moved to San Jose in California in 1945, the piano was boxed and shipped with the other household goods. In a way, the piano still gives me nightmares. When the truck arrived, it backed into the narrow driveway of the McKendrie Street house. My father, brothers, some neighbors, and the truck driver came to the point of unloading the heavy piano. They used a sort of steel track on which to slide the boxed piano down to the ground from the truck. I was stationed next to the house with some bushes alongside.
As the piano came down, it began to tip off the railings in my direction. I could not hold it up. Fortunately, it fell against the bushes and house, thereby saving Schall at an early age from being smashed by his sister’s piano. It taught me a first principle: “You can never be too careful unloading pianos.” If I close my eyes, I can still see the piano tipping over my way. Every human life, I suppose, includes a near miss or two. We call it luck or providence, not that luck does not fall under providence in a sound philosophy.
There is probably on this earth no experience quite like singing a Hayden or Bach Oratorio in a large choir before a silent, riveted audience. Music is not an occupation but a celebration of something beyond itself. Let us hope, in any case, that the heavenly choirs are closer to Mozart than much of the raucous music we hear. Still, I think of my sister’s piano. It means that any home can have its own music played by someone within it. German and Czech families will often have string quartets midst its members, at least in the days that the Germans and Czechs had children. Eric Voegelin, himself a lover of music, once remarked that no one needs to participate in the aberrations of his time. This is true of music too, something I learned listening to my sister play her Baldwin Grand Piano.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Fr. Schall on His Sister's Piano and Celebration
Worth reading is Fr. Schall's essay "Last Things: My Sister's Piano":
Posted by W. at 11:29 AM