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Emily Grossman


November 19, 2008 at 11:22 AM

I placed my skis uncertainly from the deck as my dog took off ahead of me into the darkness. Not much further down the road, I could dip down past the gate and onto the lake, which held a clean smooth pallette of fresh snow. This was where all the bobbles and stumbles ended. This was where I could really begin.

Clear skies had emptied the temperatures, and it took an entire lap along the outside of the lake before my fingers warmed past the painful stage and could hold their own against the cold. I didn’t mind so much though; Vega and the Pleiades twinkled merrily above. Turning off my headlamp, I released myself from the last obstruction between me and my solitude. The only thing left now was rhythm, dictated by the shove of each ski and the pace of my breath. In about twenty minutes, I finally settled in.

Steady stride becomes a pulse, which becomes the base for a myriad of compositions. Mostly it’s Bach that comes to my ears--not by choice, but by the summoning of the underlying current that carries all the muses and dreams. Fragments and phrases pass in a loop, yet I hardly pay attention to them. They simply present their intervals in black and white structures, free from opinions, stated as truthfully as the trees that edge the lake. If I pause to unzip, they pick up where they left off as soon as I proceed. Though not a soul would know of my starlit ski, I am never alone, for the music accompanies me all the way.

Back in the studio, I took a look at Bach again, hashing out the bowings and adhering to the fingerings. Suddenly, the editor had become an unwelcome guest, shedding light on a subject that needed no mediator. Spying the Urtext below, I shifted my focus to the original manuscript for a change, hungry for the unsolicited communion that I’d had previously, out beneath the stars.

This was where all the bobbles and stumbles ended. This was where I could really begin.

From Tom Holzman
Posted via on November 19, 2008 at 12:42 PM

What a beautiful blog post!  How long did it take your fingers to warm up enough to play the Bach?

From Pauline Lerner
Posted via on November 19, 2008 at 2:41 PM

What a beautiful analogy, Emily.  The rhythm in many of Bach's works puts me into a sort of trance.  His work breathes like no one else's.  It makes me breathe with him.  I wonder whether you and I were experiencing the same phenomenon in different ways.

From Laurie Niles
Posted via on November 19, 2008 at 5:57 PM

I find something similar, when I go running. (Okay and it's been WAY to long since I have). The rhythm of my breath summons music, which accompanies me the whole way. I never wear headphones, I really don't need to, for all the racket in my head!

From Bart Meijer
Posted via on November 19, 2008 at 8:25 PM

Thank you, Emily. You are a poet.

From Rosalind Porter
Posted via on November 19, 2008 at 8:48 PM

Great blog post - I really envy people living where there is lots of beautiful snow - far more exciting than wind and rain!    Very spooky kind of photo too...

Emily, I hope your naughty dog is behaving now, no more running away?!

From Emily Grossman
Posted via on November 20, 2008 at 9:23 AM

Thanks everyone! 

Tom, My fingers throbbed when I got home.  I made the mistake of letting them get cold again after they'd warmed up, and even a small breeze at zero degrees will send you toward frostbite in a hurry.  Surprisingly, the stiffness leaves in a short period, and then the hands are more supple due to the increased circulation.

Pauline, interesting how you mentioned breathing.  I heard a recording once that George and I both got  the distinct impression of someone breathing in a very cold, empty room. 

Laurie, you should go running again, if you can!  It's such a healthy part of the musical diet.

Rosalind, I love how the night provides a hushed kind of energy.  Ben and I are both excited and cautious when we go.  PS He hasn't run away since that day in February.  That was kind of a fluke.


From Craig Coleman
Posted via on November 20, 2008 at 1:23 PM


Thanks for sharing your writing, I was very inspired to read it. I also like the way your bio picture is alternating every so often between looking like a naturalist and then a concert violinist. Interesting!


From Tom Holzman
Posted via on November 20, 2008 at 2:02 PM

Emily - your response suggests that maybe I could improve my playing by putting my fingers in ice water for a bit and letting them wamr up.

From Laurie Niles
Posted via on November 20, 2008 at 6:08 PM

You are totally right. Running and yoga. I gotta get it back in the schedule because "running after the kids" neither burns enough calories nor does it allow me pure zen! Keep your fingers warm, girl! ;)

From Emily Grossman
Posted via on November 20, 2008 at 7:10 PM

No Tom, but you could improve your circulation by cross country skiing.  You need to get your heart rate up.  Otherwise, you're just freezing your fingers.  Washing the dishes by hand is another great way to warm up your fingers.

From Dottie Case
Posted via on November 21, 2008 at 1:16 AM

Emily, how early in the season can you usually cross country ski? 

We just how have enough snow for them to groom trails here (my preference..).  I desperately need new boots and bindings...haven't used my skis in years, but now live in the middle of national forest laced with trails.  Reading this has me thinking I should take the plunge and buy new, take advantage of my surroundings and get out there.  :)

From Paul G.
Posted via on November 21, 2008 at 1:53 AM

Ahhhh! I'm jealous! We haven't gotten any snow since the first week of September or October... I can't remember because it's been so long... Oh well I guess all you can do is wait!

From Emily Grossman
Posted via on November 21, 2008 at 4:58 AM

October, November, and December can be flaky, as far as snow goes.  It depends on the weather trend, which sometimes blows up from the south and rains on top of the snow, turning everything into an ice skating rink.

I'm not fond of skiing for the most part.  It feels like I'm trying to run with long sticks tied to my feet.  I don't go that fast, and when we go downhill, I fall.  That's why I prefer the lake.  But you should definitely dust off the skis and get out when you can!

From Pauline Lerner
Posted via on November 21, 2008 at 7:03 AM

Laurie, the deep breating aspect of yoga fits well with music.  Often, when I hear a piece of music I really like, I sit down, close my eys, and focus on the music.  Then, completely unintentionally, I go into slow deep breathing that goes with the rhythm of the music.  It puts me into a trance or a Zen-like state.  It is very deeply relaxing.

From Mendy Smith
Posted via on November 21, 2008 at 7:21 AM

I study the Suites with the Peter's edition.  Very few bow marks and ZERO fingerings or dynamics.  It helps open the possibilities up for personal interpretation.

From Rosalind Porter
Posted via on November 21, 2008 at 8:30 AM

If is strange the effect that weather can have on us musical types.  Right now, it is snowing - very lightly - outside and I have a crazy urge to a) go out and walk in it even though the wind-chill is -4 degrees C and b) get my violin out and play some fast Bach or similar!  Just a pity that it isn't going to lie at this rate.  

Snow just seems to excite so many different emotions - the excitement of seeing it fall, then the awe of being surrounded by a white landscape, and that wonderful crispness of Artic air which always makes me feel both relaxed and full of beans at the same time when going out for a walk in it...  I just wish I lived somewhere where deep snow was guaranteed each winter.

Emily, glad to hear Ben is being a good dog now,  guess he picked up on the vibes about how much he'd worried you.  Does he like to run after snowballs, our dog always loved that game, wondering where they'd gone to in the snow after they landed and usually ending up rolling and burying himself in the nearest drift.  Dogs are fun - I miss having one!

<----going to dig out her winter boots in the hope it snows and snows and snows all day

From Emily Grossman
Posted via on November 21, 2008 at 10:58 AM

After a fresh snowfall, Ben runs full steam ahead of me, scooping snow as he goes, like a pelican.  He'll rub the skin off his chin if I let him.  He's as excited about snow as any school kid.

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