For a long time, I thought my grandmother’s various superstitions were an anomaly. Then the acclaimed Soviet violinist, David Oistrakh, came to town and I realized they shared something more than great violin playing.Read More
My grandmother was a firm believer that young musicians should have proven talent at an extremely high level before she would recommend them as students for the Curtis Institute of Music. Then she met the granddaughter of her teacher Eugene Ysaÿe and all bets were off.Read More
I always thought it odd that my grandmother, a famous violinist, loved monkeys. In the various places she lived, there were no native habitats for monkeys and she must have been an adult before she saw a live one. But in her homes, there were always paintings, prints, photographs, toys, carvings, statues — you name it — monkeys everywhere. And it was certainly not an animal I associated with music.Read More
In The Nightingale’s Sonata, I mention that many of my grandmother’s contemporaries, in the years she lived in Moscow, described her and her sister, Anna, as quite beautiful. Lest that seem like a sexist subject for a blog post, let me say that such comments were quite important to assess given that beautiful women performers of that era who enjoyed successful careers were often accused of using their looks and heir charms to advance themselves professionally.Read More
When people ask me what my grandmother was like, I usually resort to telling stories about Lea. Not only are many of these stories quite entertaining but they give a sense of my grandmother’s personality — confident, determined, disarmingly charming, with a wonderful sense of humor. One of my favorite stories is how Lea became a U.S. citizen.Read More
So, you want to write a family memoir and you want to get it published. Okay, more power to you. But be prepared. If your experience is anything like mine, you are in for a long slog and many surprises. Frankly, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I hope you are quite determined, can deal with rejection, and have a thick skin.Read More
Why did I write The Nightingale’s Sonata? In the opening pages of the book, I give one answer. My mother had entrusted to me a beautiful silver podstakannik or tea-glass holder with an enameled portrait of my two uncles as children. My family had smuggled it out of Russia and eventually my mother passed it on to me along with boxes of family material. She had said, “You must tell the family story.” I promised I would.
But I had another reason for writing the book. . . .Read More