Oh Good Grief


My father is getting company.

My mother told me today that my parents’ neighbor and friend Conrad has succumbed to the cancer he’d been battling for several years.  Last year he and his wife Ulrike were so taken by my father’s tree internment at the south side of the American Red Oak at Stahnsdorf cemetery that they asked my mother if she approved of them selecting one of the other sides of the same tree for their family grave.  My mother liked the idea.

They were neighbors in life.  They will be neighbors in death.

Conrad died exactly a year and a week after my father, on a Sunday morning as well.  It’s been a year of death.  After my father there have been four more relatives and friends closely connected to me and my family who have passed.  I hope to write a little about some of them soon, if I find the words.

But that has not often been the case in this “Year of Grief”.  Even when I do find some words I am very aware of the many words I am not writing, not sharing.  Or evading.  Last July I shared my most recent birthday Evocation for Ed.  Like every year it is a duet for viola and piano.  I have cautioned against making autobiographical assumptions about the Evocations, and in general that remains very true, but in the case of last year’s piece, this caution was a feint.  Evocation XXIII, a stark piece not even two minutes long, is very much an expression of grief.  The words I find myself running out of become the notes that can express only so much before they too falter and fade into silence.

Evocation XXIII (Computer program performance)

Ed finds the piece beautiful.  I find it quietly horrific.

I haven’t composed anything else all year.

Version 2




About dannyashkenasi

I'm a composer with over 40 years experience creating music theater. I'm also an actor, writer, director, producer, teacher and general enthusiast for the arts.
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