Thursday, May 06, 2010

Backward Steps

Finally! After years of searching I found the song I loved most from my all city elementary school chorus. Yes. Back in 1968, when I was in the fifth grade, we sang this Hugo Wolf song. These are what I remember of the English words we used for the song (I'm putting them here just in case someone else might be searching).
When with my new cut walking staff
Forth I Saunter Early
Over hill and dale and through the woods my path.

(There was something about not being "wholly bad" or "so called sinful")
As the spirit stern would have it
Love and Joy are still thy song
And with praise my voice doth ring
As when first the universe was created.

For the god of love
They father and thy keeper
The director of the chorus was the "head" of the music programs for all the schools in Newton, Massachusetts. He spent his Tuesday afternoons with an auditorium full of fifth and sixth graders, teaching us music that we would never forget: Johnny Schmoker (in German), Windy, Kites are Fun, this arrangement of the Solfeggio Song (that Michael told me was used in a skit on the Ernie Kovacs show), and a few other pieces that I have (sadly) forgotten. I have also forgotten the surname of our director, but his first name was John.

A few years later, when I became a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert-going teenager, I saw him regularly at Symphony Hall. I would say hello to him, and he was always very kind. I wonder if he knows how much those songs he taught us meant to me and my fellow urchins (many who are now professional musicians)?

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