Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A voyage around my father

Today should have been my father's 80th birthday. He died in 1996.

He was a neuropathologist, but his greatest passion in life was for music. I owe my knowledge of the classical repertoire to the fact that he used to listen to Radio 3 every morning and every evening, and would spend Sunday afternoons happily ensconced in his favourite armchair comparing a pile of LPs of Brahms's Second Symphony just for fun. Our family holidays often consisted of driving through France to the Swiss mountains; I think those long twisty days on the road were his excuse to spend eight hours at a stretch listening to tapes of the great pianist Julius Katchen. That is where I first heard the Brahms piano music, including the Hungarian Dances (below).

Katchen - the nearest thing the piano had to a literary philosopher - would have been just two years older than my father, but died tragically at the age of only 42. Fortunately for us, he left a wonderful legacy of recordings. I'm thrilled to have found copious film of him on Youtube.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I miss you.