There have been a number of auspicious anniversaries in the past year, Carter’s and Messiaen’s centennials being the most widely noted. But today trumps them all in my book.
Today I am 350 years old.
In dog years.
That’s not so impressive by many people’s standards, but it’s a lot longer than this old dog expected to live.
I’m celebrating big time all year. In January, the Daedalus Quartet will premiere my fourth quartet
at Wolf Trap. In February, the nu ensemble will premiere a work I haven’t even begun to dream up yet. In March, the Emerson Quartet will premiere my fifth quartet
in Köln. In May, the Idyllwild Symphony will premiere my Schumann Trilogy
in California, with followup performances by orchestras in Utah, Idaho and Ohio.
I have three disks of my music coming out this year. Naxos will issue a CD of my complete violin works played by the ultimate Sphinx, Danielle Belén. Albany has a disk of my vocal music in the works. And Bridge will release a disk containing my piano quartet and three string quartets.
But before all of that comes about, this is an appropriate occasion on which to pass along a few observations on becoming 350:
• One morning I looked at my ratty socks and thought they must be older than I am. Then I realized they’re not -- and I don’t look so hot either.
• Stubbly jaws look better than stubbly jowls.
• I used to smile at strangers in the grocery store, and sometimes they would smile back. Now I smile at them and they almost always smile back – at my kids. And I’d do the same, if I were in their sandals.
• It’s amazing how quickly the passionate opinions of your youth can start sounding like the cranky whinings of old age.
Keeping that passionate crankiness to myself will be an ongoing challenge for my next semi-centennial.