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Mendy Smith

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Published: April 16, 2014 at 12:58 AM [UTC]

About seven years ago I performed this elegie. It was my first public performance as an adult, and one that still breaks my heart to this day.

I had about a month to prepare. After much thought, this was the one I chose, but I had limited it to just the beginning of the piece. I knew I couldn't play it in its entirety, but it was appropriate given the circumstance.

Why the Vieuxtemps? Well, it tells a story of love, life and all its tribulations. The two voices traverse the range of experiences and emotions one would see in a long life filled with both joy and sorrow. Of all the pieces that I considered, this was the one that spoke best of my grandfather's life. This was the one to be played at his funeral.

Now, seven years later, I feel that I can finally (and literally) turn the page to finish playing his elegie.

Once that page is turned, your eyes are immediately turned to what is to come at the end. It is a daunting series of notes for an amatueur, let alone trying to figure out how to go about phrasing something like this.

None the less, this is what I'm setting out to do. It is about time that I finish what I started seven years ago.

Posted on April 16, 2014 at 10:43 AM
That's how I feel about the Meditation from Thaiis. My father would play it. I still haven't the heart for it. I wish you good luck in your journey.
From Barry Bell
Posted on April 16, 2014 at 11:58 AM

Thank you for sharing both the music and your story. It is encouraging to other returning/beginning adults as to what can be accomplished with determination and practice. The fact that you are returning to the more difficult parts after many years of study also puts into perspective the time it takes to realize our goals. I look forward to hearing your own recording after you master the piece.


From Sander Marcus
Posted on April 16, 2014 at 2:43 PM

I found a quote by Dmitri Shostakovich -

"In the long run, all things in life can be separated into the important and the unimportant. You must be principled when it comes to the important things and not when it comes to the unimportant. That may be the key to living."

I believe that life is a constant journey and often struggle to find meaning in every experience (even what may seem at first to be "unimportant").

Stay on the road. And never give up. Never.


From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on April 16, 2014 at 3:28 PM
I remember when you posted about your grandfather's death. I can't believe it was almost 7 years ago, it seems much more recent. That is such a gorgeous piece. What an act of love to play it in his honor.
From Mendy Smith
Posted on April 17, 2014 at 1:10 AM

My maternal grandfather passed away only a few years ago, maybe that is what you remember. For him, it was Ashokan Farewell on fiddle. He never understood that "newfangled" music I played all the time. lol

I played the Elegie for my paternal grandfather.

Barry, I don't think I'll be doing a recording any time soon. :)

Posted on April 20, 2014 at 9:25 AM
Deeply touching interview. Thank you for allowing us such intimate insight into the view from Parnassus. (Though watching the stunning performance on Youtube I did feel a bit of anxiety and wondered with all due humility if maestro suffers from upper back pain.)

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