We remember who we were, but we’ve become someone else

In thinking about the Saskatoon houses, remember concerts upstairs at Neil Remington Abramson’s house. Neil’s mother on piano and stepfather Ed on flute. Playing classical music, though don’t remember any of the pieces. Remember that she was a good pianist, and he was a very good flautist. Design of the house was such that there was a large, open area on the second floor, where a (baby?) grand piano was placed, and where an appreciative audience could fit. Saskatoon, in the early 1960s.

Saskatoon Abramson house

Wanted to ask Neil about Ed and the flute, and then remembered he had already commented, as here:

January 4, 2015

In relation to Brian Duffy, who walked away from a career in photography, Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows (reproduced with permission):

Eventually the artist/gunslinger hangs up his/her guns.

Why? I asked my stepdad why he stopped playing the flute years before he died. He had been in the Philadelphia and Saskatoon orchestras; a guest performer many times, including on the CBC; top flautist in Saskatoon; pretty fine and on TV in Victoria. He stopped one day and nothing could induce him to pick it up.

It turned out he wasn’t alone. His friend Murray Adaskin – a famous Canadian 20th Century composer – quit playing the violin one day as well.

I used to wonder why. Now I think I know why.

If you’re really good, then you know when you can’t any longer achieve the standard you used to achieve routinely. Perfectly fine and crowd-pleasing isn’t good enough, because you are your greatest critic and you know what you used to be able to do. And now you can’t, and a greatly appreciative audience makes no difference, because they just don’t know. So they hang it up. They have become, in their own minds, a caricature – a shadow – of what or who they used to be.

We remember who we were, but we’ve become someone else; traded extraordinary for ordinary, and if you were good, you can feel it when you aren’t, and don’t want that feeling anymore.


About brucelarochelle

This entry was posted in Saskatoon Reflections, Various life philosophies. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to We remember who we were, but we’ve become someone else

  1. On July 10, 2015, Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows (reproduced with permission):

    My mother must at one time have been very good at the piano. She was admitted to Juilliard. She didn’t go because she thought pianists wouldn’t be in much demand in the Great Depression.

    Even today (“even”??), musicians do not command good salaries unless you are a superstar.

    When we moved into the house, my mother bought an old upright. First piano in many years. Later came the baby Yamaha.

    My stepfather Ed was a better musician because he’d kept it up all through the years, and played in the Saskatoon symphony. And he did all the dips and gyrations that come with playing the flute.

    My mother, in contrast, developed terrible arthritis in her hands and shoulders. She played with great determination marked on her face.

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