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Pauline Lerner

July 18, 2004 at 5:48 PM

I have a woman from Moscow, Raisa, staying with me for a month. She is a scientist attending a training course at NIH. She seems to be a very nice person, although she speaks only a few words of English and I speak only a few words of Russian. Music, however, is an international language.

The other night I had some friends over for a jam. Raisa heard us and got really excited. She sat in the living room with us and listened. She was very enthusiastic, applauding and saying "very good" nand "very pretty" in Russian.

I told one of my students about this when he came for a lesson, and he said, "When she hears me, she'll probably go away." He was right. (Later, she explained, with the help of a Russian American who served as translator, that she really had to go out anyway.)

A few evenings later, she came and listened while I was practicing. I played some Russian folk songs for her and she sang along. Then I played some classical music, themes from well known orchestral and chamber music arranged for solo violin. She recognized all the pieces except for Pachelbel's Canon; I suppose it hasn't been overworked in Russia as it has been here. When I played something by Brahms, she said a lot in Russian. All I could understand was her opinion that Russian music is better than German music. She was so happy when I played Tchaikovsky. When I played something from Swan Lake, she spoke excitedly in Russian. All I caught was "ballet" and "Moscow," and she obviously loved it.

That was so much fun. I wish I could have someone (a significant other) like that in my home all the time.

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