Tuesday, May 26, 2015



Though sorrow lay deep on our souls
Though tears welled in our eyes
We gathered new courage from the grave
Where our brave comrade lies

Recently we went to the San Francisco Ballet performing a Shostakovich Trilogy. Gail had thrilled to this program a year ago and made sure I wouldn’t miss the repeat.

At one point in the marvelous performance, my tears poured out. At intermission, I tried to sing to Gail the words of a song that Shostakovich used as a theme in the Chamber Symphony. I couldn’t because sobs choked me again and again. The Chamber Symphony is based on his Quartet No. 8, dedicated to his friends who died in World War II and to all the lives lost in the Nazi holocaust. The theme (words above) was a workers’ funeral dirge dating back to revolutionary struggles in Czarist Russia.

Can I understand the tears? Can I explain the unquenchable emotion that still beats inside me from a childhood and youth such a long, long time ago?.....

(To read more, click here)

1 comment:

  1. Your nephew Paul, my friend and colleague at Cornish College of the Arts for the last 25 years, forwarded this to me. It is a marvelous and significant piece of history, one that if I were still teaching I would want my students to read to begin to understand the world they're inheriting. Paul and I worked most closely the last few years in the Cornish Federation of Teachers, the faculty union. Our challenges arose from a neo-liberal, "market" based approach to institutional leadership, the justification for autocratic decision making and the exploitation of faculty, staff, and ultimately students (the 'consumers' in this 'market'), all posited as 'natural' or necessary, the way of the world. It's so important to remember just how artificial and contingent this system is, that it was *made* by and for and is defended by those who benefit from it, that things can and should be organized differently, to the benefit of the many, not the few, with equity rather than profit as the driving force. Thank you for this cogent, concise, hearfelt reminder (I began reading to my wife this morning and my own tears made it difficult). I'm writing you from Göteborg, Sweden, where some of these principles *were* the underpinning of the society's organization and where those principles are under threat, too.