Unexpected treasures

(JM) I stopped into a local DVD store today which was brimming with cheap copies of every movie imaginable, from old, hard to find classics, to Avatar, just a few weeks old and still in theaters. Just over one dollar per disc, or even less if you feel inclined to bargain.

I found the music section, and was stunned to find a whole shelf top to bottom of classical music CDs. There was the same copy of Mahler’s Second Symphony with New York Philharmonic and Leonard Bernstein that I bought fourteen years ago through BMG mail order. For two bucks it would have been a lot cheaper than the twelve or so I probably paid at the time.

Poring through all the top-notch recordings of symphonies, concertos, and chamber music, I came across a disc that brought me to a dead standstill, so unexpected that I found myself speechless. A 1992 RCA Silver Seal recording of Erick Friedman on violin, playing showpieces along with orchestra. Not so out of the ordinary, at first glance, but Erick Friedman never garnered the following of a Perlman or Menuhin or scores of other famous musicians on the shelf, so his recordings are much more difficult to find.

For me, however, the find was all the more poignant since Mr. Friedman was my own violin teacher. I was a member of his last class of violin students in New Haven when he died in March 2004. Hearing him on the CD now brings back to life all the lessons he gave us, a window into the not so distant past of the giants among violin virtuosos.

But for sale on a shelf at the back of a Chinese DVD stall in Nanjing?? This just drives home yet again that to walk on the street in China is to inhabit the most peculiar nexus of our current world. The dirt and grit of labor and pollution mingles ever so seamlessly with all the trappings of advanced industrial society, a place where platefuls of greasy dumplings are sold just a few feet away from cellophane wrapped cultural gems like this music. China is full of contradictions like this, and somehow the 5,000 years of culture provide enough berth to accommodate them. It’s not up to we normal folk to try to reason it out. This is just the way things are.

My teacher never would have dreamed his labors would be peddled in this way. In some strange and unforeseen way he actually hit his target market, posthumously, with the appearance of a violin lover heading back from eating dumplings in a Chinese pedestrian alley.

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3 Responses to “Unexpected treasures”


  1. 1 Julie February 9, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    Hi JM! I was just checking in on you for your birthday and saw this terrific post – unbelievable!!!! Especially now that John is giving me a deeper appreciation and musical perspective, I am very impressed with your find…

    love you!
    Julie

  2. 2 Becca February 10, 2010 at 2:12 am

    That’s AWESOME!!!! :o) (Did you buy it? ;o) )

  3. 3 Grandma Falk February 12, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    The mind, the will, and the imagination—–searchlights into truth, and the good and the beautiful—-the absolutes—-following the light all the way to the trails end, to the very end of all the trails. Seekers, all of us——what will we find?—what is there to find?——and why? Acquisition? To have as one’s own? Possession soon teaches the simple the lessons of ownership and the responsibility it entails. No. Not acquiring—that isn’t it. What, then?
    The Joy of knowing—the Joy of remembering—-the Joy of loving and longing for what God has prepared for all who seek Him first. While there is still time.
    Back home again from Simons and so happy to be with you again on the blog. Love to all


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