It's time to play Bach again for Pauline.
Pauline Lerner -- violinist, teacher, photographer, and astute observer of the human condition -- died on Jan. 3 after a long struggle with multiple health problems. Pauline was one of the earliest members of Violinist.com, having joined in 2004, and even while at a nursing home, struggling with kidney disease and tethered to an oxygen tank, she continued to post nature photographs to her Facebook page and write entries to her blog on Violinist.com.
From Baltimore, Md., Pauline studied biochemistry at the University of Maryland but taught violin during the latter 20 years of her life.
Her blogs on Violinist.com were detailed and far-ranging. One of them described, with both personal detail and useful and accurate medical information, her comeback from a rotator cuff injury, with the aim of helping others with the same problem.
Her book review of Zhu Xiao-Mei's 'Secret Piano' is beautifully written - describing "a book about the worst and best of the human spirit. The worst is the ravages of the human body and spirit by the totalitarian regime of Mao Tse Tung. The best is music."
When she wrote a summation of "Itzhak," the 2018 documentary by Alison Chernick, she tapped into the most essential elements of both the film and Itzhak Perlman's legacy - with both deep appreciation for his immense talent and an eye for catching the humor and quirkiness inherent in his story.
More poignantly, she wrote about one of her former students, Harry, who died under tragic circumstances at the age of 19.
"Harry was one of my very favorite students," she wrote. "I really loved that little boy, and he loved me, too. He was smart, very talented, imaginative, spontaneous, and very much his own person. He was inventive and surprising. I didn’t love him because of these traits. Love is not, or should not be, dependent on talents and accomplishments..."
When she attended one of Joshua Bell's earliest concerts conducting the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields in 2012, she simply wrote, "Joshua Bell conducts and plays the Beethoven Concerto, and life has never been the same."
Remembering Leonard Bernstein, she wrote that "Bernstein made me love this music by conducting it and talking about it. The following video clip shows him conducting and explaining the very end of Mahler's Ninth. That was quite a journey -- walking with a tortured man to his death. I would be scared to take that walk by myself, but Bernstein helps me by showing me the surrender and peace at the end of life."
One of Pauline's earliest blogs on Violinist.com in 2004 detailed her very acute problems with depression and difficult life circumstances - losing a job, losing a life partner, even losing her will to live.
In response, V.com member Steven Brivati encouraged the Violinist.com community to play Bach for Pauline, and the result was an outpouring of support. At first Pauline was too depressed to even get on the Internet - she did not see the thread. Then member Peter Ferreira called her to let her know about it.
"I have no words to express my thanks to all of you for your understanding and compassion," she wrote in response. "Bach's violin music is one of the greatest gifts, and hearing it come through my window from friends I've never even met is another. Please don't stop playing for me....I can't tell you how much it means to me, any more than I can tell you why I love Bach. I'll be listening through my window."
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