Your Tanglewood Tales, Page 3
Here are more of your "Tanglewood Tales," stories from Classical New England listeners that celebrate the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra during this 75th anniversary season.
In the 1950's, I took Ballet class from Senia and Regina Russakoff on Boylston St. Boston. The Russakoff school was in the 1920's the only school of Ballet in Boston. Senia Russakoff told me that at one time, possibly in the late 20's and 30's, a young teenager came to ask if he could play the piano for Ballet class. This young man, a student at Boy's Latin school turned out to be Leonard Bernstein. Russakoff started his Balley school in the early-mid 1920's, upon the advice of Pavlova. Russakoff did this and also established The Boston Ballet [the Boston Ballet Concerto Company - ed.], 1927, counting Virginia Williams, her brother, William, and sister, Phylis, among his students in the 1930's. Ray Bolger was also his student and cleaned the studio in payment for his classes. Russakoff also mentioned that he and Arthur Fielder would talk of taking music and dance out of the concert hall and meeting the general public in summer outdoor performances. Fiedler then started the Hatch Shell concerts and Russakoff started a little cafe called the Troika, where soft drinks, deserts were served while dancers performed.
My favorite Tangelwood Tale goes back to 1980 or so, when as a college student, my mother would take my sister and me to the Saturday morning rehearsals. Seeing Lenny was always a highlight at those rehearsals because you never knew what he'd say or do. Possbily the best of these moments was when he obviously didn't appreciate the way one of the strings was playing his part--they had an on-stage argument, and just like an ump and manager, Lenny tossed him! I thought that was so cool. Things are much tamer now, I've noticed.
In the early 1990's, I went to Tanglewood for a long weekend, with a group of fellow travelers from the Boston area. We had tickets to 2 concerts; however, in addition, a few of us wanted to attend the Saturday Open Rehearsal with James Galway. My skin still chills when I think of it - sitting just a few feet away from this flute genius, who would TALK to us, in between rehearsing his repertoir! It was a life thrill!!
My wife and I have attended Tanglewood innumerable times over the past three decades, but the most memorable visit was this past Monday, when our daughter Julia was featured as concertmaster/soloist with the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra in Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra. It was a wonderfully proud moment!
I am a lawn usher at Tanglewood for 12 years and a few years ago I had a wonderful experience while patrolling the lawn before a concert on a saturday night. I came upon an elderly woman wearing a very ornate party hat. I stopped to say hello and welcome her to Tanglewood, I said you look like you are celebrating something and she replied that she had come from Germany to celebrate her 85th birthday. I wished her a happy birthday and walked on. A short time later I stopped to speak to two young couples and found that one couple from Canada had brought their friends who were visiting from Germany to Tanglewood for the weekend. I welcomed them and told them that I had just met a woman from Germany who was here to celebrate her 85th birthday. I then walked on and the next time through that area a tall blond haired man walked up to me and asked if I could introduce him to the lady from Germany. I of course did introduce him and then watched as they chatted for almost half an hour. I later realized that here was a young man about 40 and a woman celebrating her 85th birthday who never in a million years would have met back in Germany, having a wonderful time chatting on the lawn at Tanglewood and what a wonderful venue Tanglewood is for people to meet and become friends. I have experienced similar meetings since that occasion. It makes my work on the lawn a wonderful experience.
Over the years, I attended several concerts at Tanglewood. I remember one particular incident but not the exact date. I think it may have been in the 1951 to 1953 period. It was anyway during the period when Koussevitzky was conductor and Richard Bergen Concert Master. Koussevitzky was known for his conducting technique which was baffling and confusing to the concert-goer. I was standing in the men's room during intermission and heard a bit of conversation between an orchestra member and a friend who were in adjacent stalls. The friend asked: How do you ever know when to start? The orchestra member replied: Oh well, Koussy waves his arms for a while; then Bergen nods his head and we all begin. I interpreted this to mean that Koussevitzky was perfectly aware that the orchestra knew the time signature, tempos, and entrances and seldom needed to communicate anything of that sort but that there were matters of interpretation that he wished to remind the players of.
When I was 16, my greatest dream was to go to Tanglewood. At the time, I was a high school student with a one speed bicycle, living in Bayside, NY. With the assurance of youth, and no understanding of what riding up and down mountains on a bicycle might entail, my father and I converted my bike to a three speed model, using a three speed hub that was discarded in the trash. I joined the American Youth Hostels, and was on my way. Although I walked up a lot of hills, trailing my ten speed classical music enthusiasts, I will never forget speeding down the final hill to Tanglewood. Or sitting out under the stars, ringed by mountains, listening to good music.
Over 30 years ago, my soulmate and I spent a weekend at Tanglewood, camping nearby. It was our first year together and we attended many Boston Symphony events, dress rehearsals on Sunday afternoons in Boston and concerts on the Esplanade. I had grown up with symphony music as my parents were musicians and I had played cello and piano, but a former spouse had ended my connection with classical music.
The year I first went to Tanglewood was a blessed unforgetable reconnection with music. We headed to Tanglewood from Tiverton, RI, on a BMW motorcycle and hit a thunderstorm with torrential downpours. We arrived drenched but I was too joyful to be there to care. The concerts over that weekend had many of my favorite pieces which reduce me to tears to this day. "New World" Symphony and the "master's" 4th and 6th symphonies. It was a magical weekend. My soulmate and I reconnected a few years ago and sat and recreated those concerts by listening to those pieces on a CD while lying on a blanket in a state park by Cathedral in the Pines and it took me right back to Tanglewood!!! This summer I am committed to returning and know I will cry but it will be worth it
In the mid-1980s I went to Tanglewood several summers. The details of the programs are long forgotten. What remains is a vivid memory of Leonard Bernstein conducting. Never before had I seen anyone conduct with so much energy, focus, or joy.
Some years ago I attended a concert of Yo-Yo Ma playing the Six Bach Cello Suites. We lay outside the small brown shed next to the entrance to the main food venue. A gorgoeus night under those trees. We could hear clearly, and enjoyed. Above us in the tree branches were the famous Tanglewood birds. You know that Olivier Messiaen always said that birds were the first and always best composers. Well this night the Tanglewood birds were not composers, but musicians perfectly accompanying Yo-Yo Ma in these sublime cello suites. Thinking about this perfect concert still raises goosebumps. It was that wonderful. I was always glad that we couldn't afford tickets inside the theatre.
In the summer of 1970, Seiji Ozawa conducted an all Bach concert at Tanglewood. A few weeks before the concert, I had returned from a 2 year stay in Jerusalem with my daughter, Sharona, age 13, who, in Israel, had composed several songs, in Hebrew and English, which she was invited to sing on Kol Yisrael, Israel national radio.
Given Sharona's love of music, when I heard about the Bach concert, I decided, the day before the concert, to take her to Tanglewood. Fortunately, I obtained tickets in one of the last rows in the shed. During the entire concert, Sharona sat barely moving, leaning towards the orchestra. At the end, as the audience applauded, she jumped out of her seat and ran towards the stage, disappearing somewhere behind it. As soon as the audience had left and I could get down to the front of the shed, I called her name, obviously somewhat worried. In a few minutes, she appeared, smiling happily.
"What happened?" I asked her. "Where did you go?"
"I had to find Seiji Ozawa," she told me, "and tell him how wonderful this concert was. I never heard such beautiful music."
"Well, did you find him?"
"I walked in back of the stage, down a hall with some rooms, looking for him. I didn't see him. Then I heard two people talking. I knew it was Mr. Ozawa when I heard him tell the other person that conducting some music was like climbing to the top of a mountain, but that some of the passages he conducted today were more like flying up over the top of a mountain. So I walked into the room where I heard them. He was very nice and asked me what he could do for me. I really didn't know how to tell him what I was feeling. He was smiling and i felt I had to say something. So I said, 'Mr.Ozawa, keep it up!'"
I thought to myself that that comment, coming from a child, must surely have pleased Seiji Ozawa very much.
It was the final concert of the season, Beethoven's 9th on a perfect Sunday afternoon. I had been so transported emotionally by the performance that I wasn't even aware of the people around me on the lawn.
When I finally moved to gather my blanket and chair after the applause, a very elderly woman in a wheel chair tapped me on the forearm. I turned to her, wondering what she might need, when she said straight out, "I didn't want to come here today." She pointed to the people she was with. "They put me on a bus and made me come. I'm glad they did because I got to watch you enjoying the music, and for the first time in my life I saw God. Thank you. You don't know what you've given me."
I didn't know what to say except, "Thank you for telling me." And she rolled away on the grass, nodding her head as I just stood there amazed.
Lees Summit, MO
Tanglewood has been a magnet for generations of my family...I was introduced to the BSO for the very first time when my family drove up to Tanglewood from Connecticut when I was about 14; between my freshman and sophomore college years I fell in love with my (ex)husband as we sat on The Lawn, and at a Tanglewood concert the next summer he met my mother and step-father.
His New York-based parents built a vacation house in Becket, we got married, and my mother-in-law began volunteering in the Glass House gift shop. My three daughters grew up visiting "Grandma's House in the Woods" for ten summers and played in the Tanglewood trees and enjoyed my mother-in-law's wonderful picnics, often joined by various constellations of friends and my family as well.
In 2000 my father and step-mother flew up from their home in Little Rock, Arkansas, and rented a house up the street. Every evening of that week we walked near the Tanglewood Institute, hearing the strains of young musicians practicing. The whole family trooped down the road carrying our picnic in a red wagon to several weekend concerts. Several years later the violinist daughter and pianist son of two different friends studied there, and their concerts performed in the Ozawa Music Hall were exuberant and wonderful.
My 80-year old mother and I still meet in the Berkshires to attend a concerts in the Shed each summer. During the course of 40 consecutive summers I have enjoyed every imaginable kind of music and performance and food and drink with three generations of family and friends at Tanglewood--rehearsals, evening concerts, picnics of all sorts, chamber music and huge choral and symphonic productions, the "1812" Overture, A Prairie Home Companion, jazz...Tanglewood has truly woven itself into the fabric of our musical lives and family history.
A Tale of Two Cities
A particular memory of Tanglewood I have is of a visit I made on one August day in 1995. As an expert technician, I had been engaged to put the resident harpsichord into playing condition for an upcoming concert. The instrument was just offstage in the music shed but there was little activity, rehearsal was over and I was able to work undisturbed.
The stagehands were, as usual, helpful when necessary but otherwise went about their business somewhere out of my way. I would hear them engage in cheerful, quiet banter whenever they encountered each other in my vicinity. And then... At just such an encounter the following occurred.
"Hey, man. Have you heard? Jerry died."
"Jerry. Jerry Garcia!"
"No..." and so on. Work didn't stop - these guys are pros - but the word spread in like manner to the first exchange and backstage became a duller place for it. On the trip back to Boston that afternoon, sure enough, ATC featured the story.
I began my love of Tanglewood as a junior high school student in Lenox in 1970. My earliest memory is listening to a closed rehearsal of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy with Peter Serkin performing and Seiji Ozawa conducting a small ensemble at Windsor Mtn. School. Seiji and I met that day. We became acquainted and he spent a lot of time over the 6 years I was there talking with me. It was extraordinary because I wasn't a good musician or anything like that. He was just very kind to me and my family. I have met him since then and he still remembers me.
I've had the pleasure of going to Tanglewood many summers, but my earliest memory is my favorite. As a young teen during the '60's, I was sitting in the Shed with my parents to hear Leinsdorf conduct an all Beethoven concert. Thunderclaps seemed to keep time with the dramatic opening beats of the Fifth Symphony. The lights went out for a short period, the orchestra did not miss a beat, the audience was wildly appreciative, and I was "hooked" on the Tanglewood experience.
During the summer of 1975 the important person in residence at Tanglewood was Mstislav Rostropovich, who came there with his wife Galena Vishnevskaya and their two daughters, Olga, who played the cello, and Elena, who played the piano. It was a very exciting summer, filled with master classes where Rostropovich would tell charming stories (I remember that his humor was rather unrestrained).
Near the end of the summer Rostropovich was scheduled to perform Shostakovich's Second Cello Concerto. Many people knew the first concerto, but very few people knew the second, a piece that Shostakovich wrote for Rostropovich in 1966. Only nine years old, it was a piece of relatively new music. I am pretty sure that this performance was the first by the Boston Symphony, and it could have even been the first American performance of the piece. Anyway, it was a big deal. The fact that Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony was on the second half of the program offset any chance of losing the audience to an unfamiliar work. Everyone loves Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony. During the intermission there was a bit of a commotion on stage, and then Galena Vishnevskaya walked to the center of the stage and sang an unaccompanied lament. Everybody wondered what it was about. Eventually Bill Moyer, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's personnel manager, came on stage. He told the audience that Dmitri Shostakovich had just died. Then Rostropovich conducted the performance of the Fifth Symphony. It was an awesome performance in every way. Many thousands of people were in a state of collective mourning. Wherever "there" is when a person dies, that's where we all were.
It was the 30th of July, 2005, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra had just begun the night's final piece. As the low tones of Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony began, out on the lawn there arose such a clatter we turned in our seats to see what was the matter. People running here, people running there, screaming, confusion everywhere. The lawn sprinkler system had unexpectedly gone off and everyone there was getting soaked! The mighty BSO ground to a halt. Ten minutes later they started up again but as we left the shed that night we saw a wet and bedraggled audience smiling and still drying out!
My parents started going to Tanglewood in the 1950s - apparently free passes to the lawn were being given to my dad's employer. Even after that stopped, we always made one trip to Tanglewood each summer, and those concerts certainly nurtured my growing love for orchestral music. And while it rained a few times as we drove back home to Springfield, it never rained while we sat on the lawn!
One July in the mid 1970s, my wife and I took our son Timothy, who is celebrating his 50th birthday this month, to the annual Tanglewood on Parade program. As usual it concluded with the 1812 Overture followed by fireworks. As soon as the music was over, Timothy insisted on going back stage to meet Seiji Ozawa, the conductor. So I took him. We were led outside behind the Shed where a small crowd had gathered around Seiji, who was holding his young son and watching the fireworks. He would not provide autographs till the fireworks were over. However, Tim told him how impressed he was that the cannons had fired right in time to the music. Seiji replied that he was not so pleased at the timing. He went on to express his desire to have a button attached to his podium so he could fire the cannons himself at the right times. Tim and I were impressed. Eventually he did sign Tim's program. I still wonder whether he succeeded in having the firing button installed.
My first Tanglewood concert was in 1964. The program was the Verdi Requiem with Erich Leinsdorf conducting. All went well until the beginning of the "Dies Irae," when a fearsome thunderstorm erupted. The coordination of the storm with this particular section of the Requiem was perfect. The BSO certainly got an extra percussion boost from "Mother Nature" that evening. It was most impressive!
My father remembers going to Tanglewood in the late '40s and hearing Koussevitsky boom out with his thick Russian accent "Lenny get me coffee!"
Tanglewood has always been a welcome, often needed oasis in the summer time. For me, the mid '90's was a time of change, much of it not by choice. I decided that a weekend of all Beethovan music would be perfect during these trying times. Friday night was beautifully mild to begin with, but as the concert progressed a steady but warm rain accompanied the Eroica. I walked for a bit during the symphony and way back near the big building behind the lawn, was a man in a white linen shirt, with out- stretched arms blissfully enjoying the rain and the music. I felt this to be a vision...but I know this is some of the magic that is Tanglewood.
Turners Falls, MA
Took kids [many years ago] against their will to hear Seiji Ozawa conduct MAHLER'S RESURECTION SYMPHONY on a steamy August summer afternoon. BIG MISTAKE! Both threw up. Not sure either has listened to Mahler since
My grandson had the privilege of attending BU's Tanglewood Institute for 2 summers. I spent 2 weeks nearby and attended many concerts. There were many downpours that summer, one I remember unforgettably. With other family members on the lawn there we sat in Tanglewood ponchos and umbrellas to match but were still drenched through. At the intermission, my grandson found us looking like refugees, whilst he having performed with the chorus on stage, was immaculate in a concert tux. That same summer, we were looking forward to hearing Sarah Chang, but the thunder and lightning and rain prevented us from even getting out of the car. We witnessed a lightning bolt hit a tree and someone injured nearby. We listened to the concert on the radio! All this will never deter me from enjoying this most wonderful summer destination.
Being a NYC girl I had never heard of Tanglewood. Married to a wonderful guy August 4, 1952, my first introduction to your concerts was when my husband brought me there on our honeymoon (probably August 6 or 7). It was really wonderful and I will never forget the joy of listening to Arthur Fieldler. Listening to your radio station brings me back to the music and soothes my lonely heart after losing my husband in 2001.
With but two exceptions I have spent part or all summers at Tanglewood since 1947. That first trip was amazing. On an early July morning four friends and I piled into the brand new car of the parents of one of my friends and set out on the 4 1/2 hour jaunt from Mattapan to the Berkshires....this was before the Massachusetts Turnpike was built. We arrived in Lenox well before the 3:30 starting time of the concert, and decided to explore the countryside---my first exposure to the magnificence of the area. The concert itself, in the Theater-Concert Hall, was all-Bach, Koussevitzky conducting one of the Orchestral Suites and two of the Brandenburg Concertos, and with the premier two-piano team of the time, Luboshutz and Nemenoff, two of the Concertos for multiple keyboards. This was the first time I had heard any of the works live; needless to say, I was bowled over! Concert over, the five of us piled back into the car for the 4 1/2 hour return trip. Nine hours on the road for a two-hour concert? That was the beginning of my 65-year love affair with Tanglewood.
I flew my mom from Texas to hear my son perform at Tanglewood. We bought tickets to a rehearsal at 10:00 on a Saturday morning and headed toward the shed. In a patch of trees near the side of it, an enormous sound of the chorus triumphantly sang out Mozart. She was not expecting it and stopped in her tracks and started crying - I mean sobbing! I was pretty concerned about her. She could barely talk. She said she felt like she had just walked through the gates of Heaven. The beauty of the scenery and the glorious music overwhelmed her. I will NEVER forget her response. And it wasn't the last time the music moved her to tears that weekend! That was priceless and precious to me.
In the late 60's and early 70's the "old" WCRB used to run a summer fund raiser for the BSO called the Musical Marathon. In the summer of '72 one of the "prizes" was a round of golf with the concertmaster of the BSO, the renowned Joseph Silverstein. I don't recall how much I donated, perhaps a hundred dollars. On a warm and beautiful Sunday in August I played a delightful round with Mr. Silverstein and one other violinist, Leo Panisevich. They were both as gracious and sociable as I could have hoped. The best part of the day was about to come, however, as Mr Silverstein had also included for me two tickets to the concert, the first ever BSO performance of the Mahler 8th symphony. I don't remember much about the golf that morning, but sitting in the 6th row with more than 400 players, singers and the TFC with the young Seiji Ozawa conducting was one of the greatest moments of my life. The sheer volume of sound at the ends of each movement was absolutely overwhelming, something I have never forgotten.
Sometime in the mid '80s we had a 17-year old nephew visiting from England. He checked in pretty weary after strenuous activities in the Rockies, but we took him out to Tanglewood anyway. He did pretty well for most of the program, lying prone on our blanket on the Lawn, but by the time the 1812 started he was sound asleep - until the real cannon fired just behind us! It was as if he were pulling off a levitation trick - his entire body lifted about 6 inches above the rug, still in prone position.
I was perhaps 6 or 7 when first taken to Tanglewood. That was sometime in the 1950s. We'd arrive reeking of woodsmoke from camping at the state forest. May parents would take us four kids to the Saturday morning open rehearsals, where we learned to love music... and sit still. We kids could wander the formal gardens after intermission, if we stayed absolutely silent.
If it was an evening concert, we'd stay at the campground and one parent and one of the older kids would go to the concert. My sister, perhaps 12 at the time, drifted off to sleep in the haunting final moments of the American premiere of the Poulenc Gloria, and when 6000+ people erupted into applause, she was so startled she burst into tears.
When I was nine we moved to the Berkshires, and from then on it was at least eight to twelve concerts per season. We kids were left home for Charles Munch's retirement in 1962, but we were all there to applaud, and weep, when Leinsdorf retired in 1969. My sister and I "jumped" some seats to sit under the scaffold, that supported television cameras; a broadcast was a novelty in those days. We were electrified to be so close up for Beethoven's 9th.
Ozawa appeared at about that time, a wunderkind, and his hair wasn't gray... and neither was mine. At the end of conducting the Chichester Psalms, he signaled someone to come forward from the box seats; it was the composer, Leonard Bernstein; how unnerving it must have been for a young conductor to have the composer present.
At one concert, a young black singer filled the shed with a sound of unmatched glory without any apparent effort, and to this day I marvel at Jessye Norman's luscious voice, especially in Strauss's Four Last Songs.
In fine spring weather, my friends and I would bicycle for ten miles -- a trip somewhat shortened by taking woodland paths -- to walk the empty grounds, and I still have a special place in my heart for the emerald prospect and the drone of distant lawnmowers.
I sang with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in 1982 and 1983. Chorus members were in residence for about five weekends during the summer season and enjoyed the privilege of attending concerts when we weren't singing. I remember sitting with other chorus members in the row of folding seats farthest back in the Shed bundled in sleeping bags because the evenings get so chilly there!
In the early '70's we used to go to Tanglewood before the concerts - in June, just to hear the students practice in the little sheds! One time when we were there on the lawn (when tickets were $3!), we sat watching 2 particular groups. One on the left had a blanket, a bucket of Kentucky fried chicken and scrabble, on the right an 8' banquet table all set with crystal, china, and candelabra, with folks dressed in formal wear. I thought this is what it is all about...classical music for the masses!
My Tanglewood Tale starts with a timeshare exchange to the town of Lee in 1990. Tanglewood was perhaps a half-hour drive from where I was staying. I can't remember how much before the concert I arrived, but I ended up parking in what I was told was a cow pasture. I have no recollection of the concert itself as to who was conducting or what was played. I do recall that I had a book in my car, which came in very handy after the concert, since due to the sheer volume of people parked in that cow pasture, I couldn't move for about 45 minutes. I didn't even bother turning my engine on for that long. The evening was one of those experiences that I've had only once in my life. Does anyone know if that "parking lot" is still a cow pasture?
East Bridge, MA
The inimitable Seiji Ozawa was conducting Beethoven's "Pastoral" symphony, bringing out all its rich beauty. Just as the music became storm-like, the skies opened in a dramatic downpour. I felt bad for those on the lawn, but musically this marvelous work was made even more magical. The skies calmed seemingly along with the music. Earth and the heavens were in near-perfect alignment that night!
The premiere performance of the opera icon Renee Fleming coincided with my late mother's ninth decade of musical memories. Because my mother's condition was such that she was confined to a wheelchair, we decided to arrive at all costs (Renee was practically extended family). Expecting immense physical and logistical nightmares in keeping my Mom engaged, imagine my enormous surprise when we were greeted by a boundless group of staffers, all eagerly at the ready to assist. They employed their ample resources with the warmth and humanity consistent with the Tanglewood experience. My mother's sublime expression throughout the performance was a wonder to behold for me. It will be an enduring and happy memory for me now that she has passed, knowing that succumbing to the mystical magic nestled in the Berkshires contains the real secret of a full life. It is the transformative and abundant richness of beautiful music shared by great artists for all to hear.
Tanglewood was a new teenager when we met in 1950. That summer I worked at a private boys' school used to house the female students. I climbed on the bus to travel to the Shed -- not for the music but to be with the girls. We had free 1st row seats where I could easily detect when the violins turned the last page and I would be released.
My first encounter with classical music has turned into a life-long love. I've returned to Tanglewood frequently, although not often in recent years. My bucket list includes a summer week in The Berkshires: the Shed or the Lawn, Ozawa Hall, The Clark, Williamstown theater, summer stock and Red Lion Inn where I worked during the summer of 1951. I'm in my 80th year, so gotta hurry.
Hearing great music when Seji Ozawa and James Levine were on the helm and many great conductors, hard to name the repertoire, and biking/driving around the Berkshires.
When I first started to date my fiancee in early 2010, I told her that we should plan a Sunday afternoon at Tanglewood. (My late wife and I attended often, and we always enjoyed the entire ambience.) We selected the Strauss Program for late July; but while I was vacationing in Florida in early July, I took seriously sick and was hospitalized at the time of our tickets and had to miss the performance. In 2011, Clara (now my wife) and I got tickets for Beethoven's 9th Symphony in late August. Hurricane Irene came along and changed that,and the performance was cancelled. I am persistent and still want Clara to enjoy Tanglewood. We are planning to attend the concert in late August of this summer to enjoy Tanglewood and Beethoven. We hope the third try works out for us.
In 2001 my husband and I went to Tanglewood for the first time for our 10th wedding anniversary. We were in the shed on the Friday evening, but on Sunday afternoon we sat under a beautiful tree. While waiting for the concert to start, I looked around and thought, "What fun it would be to do this in our own back yard." Well we missed 2002, but in 2003 we invited friends to "Berrycopse" (we live on Berry Lane, and a copse is a small wood) and this year will be our 10th concert. Last year we had 73 guests! We listen to our music throughout the year, and also get inspiration from Laura and Keith while driving to work, and John makes two CDs of our choices. He also does some research on the composers and gives a short biography on each. We have hors d'oeuvres before we start, main course at intermission, and coffee and dessert at the end. Our friends must like it because they keep coming back.
- Maxine and John
The year was 1960. Kennedy was President. We were just getting involved in Viet Nam. I had just finished my first year in medical school and was looking for a summer job. I turned down an offer to sell Encyclopedia Brittanicas door to door. Then I accepted a position as counselor at Camp Deerwood, a music camp on Lake Buel in Great Barrington, MA.
The boys in my cabin were ten and eleven year olds, mostly from Long Island. They were a rambunctious bunch, full of spirited, noisy perpetual motion. They had been promised visits to the BSO in Tanglewood at least weekly. Most of our visits to Tanglewood were at night. We sat on blankets on the lawn outside the Shed. As strains of Beethoven and Mozart wafted from the Shed over the lawn outside, after the first set the boys got restless. They wrestled with each other, argued in loud voices. Nearby concert goers were not shy in their disapproval. Therefore, I spent most of each concert chasing wayward boys, shushing them and trying to turn their attention from boisterous mayhem and raucous play to the beauties of the concert at hand.
Suffice it to say, I did not enjoy those concerts that summer that much. It was only many years later, when I returned to Tanglewood with my own family, that I was able to enjoy the extraordinary experience of enjoying exquisite music while reclining on Tanglewood's (usually quiet) lawn.
It was a rainy and sultry night back in the mid 60's. Maestro Leinsdorf was conducting the Verdi Requiem in the shed. I was taking my bride to her first Tanglewood concert. The concert started calmly. Maestro was summoning all his forces for the bombastic Dies Irae. The bass drum began pounding out the first notes when all of a sudden, the skies opened up and loud claps of thunder and accompaning lightning were heard paralleling the booming drum, full orchestra and full chorus. The effect was just devasting and chilling to all of us gathered in the shed. It was as if God was listening to the concert and augmenting it as only He couild do. It was a moment for us, frozen in time, something we shall never forget as long as we live.
Great Neck, NY
In the summer of 1952, I was spending my 8th summer at the Farm & Wilderness Camps of Plymouth, VT. As a camper in the Senior Work Camp division of these Quaker camps, we traveled to Mt. Greylock to camp out, specifically to go to the Saturday evening Tanglewood concert! No, I do not have a photograph - what I do have is a life-time clear memory of the magic of that evening "on the green" with my fellow campers! Having grown up in Brookline, just down the street from conductor Serge Koussevitsky, I knew how thoroughly blessed we were! Through the years I have enjoyed both advertising and contributing to WCRB - my favorite source of the world's great, classical music!
For the summer of 1957 (or maybe it was ’58), the programming gurus determined that the first concert weekend of the Tanglewood season would be devoted to the music of J. S. Bach, and the second weekend to Mozart. The rest of the summer was then available for more popular music to appeal to the NY audience.
That first Friday night concert provided one of my most fond memories. The venue was the Small Shed, the original shelter for the orchestra which has since been replaced by Ozawa Hall. The Shed was just a roof set on uprights, and a concrete floor. The night was marked by showers and the “sit on the lawn” audience was small.
I don’t remember most of the program, but the final work was the Suite No. 2 for Flute and Small Orchestra. The soloist was the BSO’s Principal Flautist, Doriot Antony Dwyer. The rain had been getting heavier since intermission, and the “outside” listeners were trying to crowd under the edges of the Shed roof. Talk about SRO.
The performance was outstanding. Mrs. Dwyer’s breath control, phrasing, and dynamics were of the first rank. And her playing of the final movement, the Badinerie, was a tour de force. After substantial demonstrations of audience enthusiasm, Dr. Munch signalled for a reprise. And while he lounged on the harpsichord case, Mrs Dwyer led the orchestra as she played the Badinerie yet again.
I have heard many performances of the Bach Suite No. 2, live and recorded. I have heard the pre-eminant flautists of the era. I have heard full orchestral and chamber group versions, including transcriptions for other instruments substituted for thr flute. But none of these have matched what I heard on a rainy night at Tanglewood.
I live with my husband at Linden Ponds in Hingham (a Continuing Care community) and have conducted the Chapel Chorale here for 7 years, and am taking a Sabbatical leave from that position. I, too, turn 75 this year. 50 years ago this summer, I was ready to spend the summer at Tanglewood, to sing in the Festival chorus and study solfege with Roger Voisin. As a "Sabbatical gift" the singers have presented me with 2 tickets to the 75th Gala Concert, because 50 years ago, I decided to stay in Cambridge with the one I was going to marry instead of going to Tanglewood! So, after 50 years (and 3 children and 6 grandchildren) of waiting, I will make it to Tanglewood!
My son and I started going to Tanglewood on Parade when he was in either first or second grade. This was a tradition we kept up until last year when he graduated from the University of Richmond and took up residence in Richmond. During those many years we only missed perhaps two times. One was because of the weather and the other was a family event of some type. Our traditon was to arrive early and stay until the fireworks were over. We eventually had our own "special place" on the lawn in front of the shed. We set up our blanket, chairs and cooler and then roamed the grounds. I remember spending lots of time in the maze and watching the cannons being set up. As he got older we each roamed on our own to our favorite events.
Another traditon that evolved was camping out at the October Forest campground the night before and after On Parade. That eliminated the late night drive back to Westminster or Leominster, where we were living in those years. Lots and lots of great memories spending some really special time with my son. I'm sure neither of us will forget those wonderful days!
The attached image is a sketch that Bert made he made in 1996 while sitting out on the lawn. An interesting follow up to the sketch is that he graduated last year as a Studio Art major and is trying to get himself established as a professional artist. No way of knowing how that will turn out, but if he ever becomes famous, we will have on hand an early work of the artist! The sketch hangs on my office wall, along with the usual diplomas and professional designations and, of course, two Tanglewood prints.
I visited Tanglewood in 1947 with my mother, Mrs. Lucien Wulsin. We were guests of Serge Koussevitzsky at Serenak where Olga, who later became his wife, was hostess. The program that week was all Beethoven - 9 symphonies, 1 violin concerto and 5 piano concerti performed by students and the BSO. Limousines whisked us past the picnikers to the stage door and from there we found our seats in the center box. Post concert receptions at Serenak were exceptional and were attended by many famous artists of the day from all over the world. I still remember the borscht and of course the music. I was 19 at the time and by the last note of the Choral Ninth on the last night I was in tears.
It was in the middle of Beatlemania in 1964 and being age 13 I wasn´t too much into classical music. My father´s car radio always set at AM1330WCRB, so when I could I switched to pop WBZ or WMEX. So when Dad announced in June we would be going to Tanglewood for a few performances, my heart sank. The first performance was not so hard to take, and by the fourth I was beginning to like it. So, when I returned to Tanglewood in the summer of ´65, I began to enjoy classical with the BSO. Then we moved, and I now long for the chance to return, which I guess will be in the next 2 or 3 summers. Most of the time now I listen to classical music, although pop from the sixties and seventies I greatly enjoy too.
Because the memories are now decades ago, they have melded into one pleasant image I refer to often, especially when I try to find the likes of Tanglewood here in north Texas. I do, however have one memory of a date I had with a lady who had one condition for the date: I had to try one picnic menu item I never tried before. What she brought was Gewurtztraminer. YUM! Not only was the music enchanting that evening, (don't remember exactly what it was), but I have been enjoying gewurtz ever since!
A few years ago a friend and I (both senior citizens) were staying at a motel in Lee as we had done for the past 10 years in order to visit Tanglewood for the weekend. I was headed for the pool and a woman came out of the door next to ours. She offered me tickets for the Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon concerts saying the couple planning to come to go with them could not make it. I declined the Friday night tickets because we love to sit on the lawn. The weather was supposed to be bad on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, so I gratefully accepted those tickets. I tried to pay something for the tickets, but she would not take any money, saying she was just happy to have someone use the tickets. The weather Saturday night and Sunday was miserable, heavy rain and lots of lightning. We were so happy to be inside the shed and so grateful to our donors otherwise we would have missed the concerts that weekend after our long drive out there. We still talk about the amazing generosity and kindness of the people who gave us the tickets. I would say this was a story depicting the nature of the people who make up Tanglewood audiences. It is certainly one of our fondest memories of Tanglewood.
In the summer of 1971, the Orchestra of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute rehearsed in the Chamber Music Hall out back by the Hawthorne Road. On a hot day in July, we opened the sliding doors to get some air circulating, but still we sweated like pigs. We were rehearsing the first movement of Debussy's La Mer -- the movement subtitled "De l'aube à midi sur la mer"; the music builds to a climax, then closes on three great chords. Precisely at that moment there is a clap of thunder, the heavens open, a gust of wind blows through the hall and ruffles the pages on our music stands; with a spontaneous "Ah!" everyone in the orchestra looks around and remarks on the perfection of it all.
Today, 6/8 is my first niece's 54th birthday. Six weeks after she was born in 1958, I came to Boston from my home in New Orleans to visit my oldest brother and his wife. He had just graduated from MIT with his Bachelor's degree, and was in a 5 year program to get his Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering. I was 17. He planned a weekend camping trip at the state park near Tanglewood, so we could go hear the Boston Symphony there. My brother Bob, his wife Toni, and their 6 week old infant daughter Stephanie, another couple, and one of my brother's MIT friends, who was supposed to be my date, camped out in sleeping bags (no tent) under the stars and cooked over a open camp fire, so we could afford to attend Tanglewood that weekend. The other couple was supposed to bring the food, and they failed to bring enough. Because we were all broke students and very hungry, we had to miss one of the planned concerts so we could buy some more food. It was my first very memorable trip to Tanglewood, and also the first for my niece, although she was far too young to remember it! (I just sent this story to my niece in a Birthday email message, then I saw this request for Tanglewood stories. Ironic!)
Where to begin....as a preteen some 55 years ago I began attending with my father who was an usher. Fast forward to 1964 and Allen Sherman and the Boston Pops...then there was Arthur Fiedler coming in on the fire truck. Tanglewood on Parade was a mostly women only tradition for me and my friends for many, many years! I remember the year the "1812" was NOT played and people were NOT happy!
I have attended Tanglewood through many conductors both of the Pops and of the BSO and feel very blessed to have this in my back yard. I remember attending one of the first James Taylor and the Pops when it took over an hour to get from the monument down to the Lion's gate...in fact we didn't make it....they had to open another parking lot...and the concert started late because the orchestra members could not get back from dinner. Then there's the annual Prairie Home Companion show, and last but far from least my graduation ceremony form Berkshire Community College was held at Tanglewood! Oh, and I remember when the restrooms were limited and were at the corners of the shed! Time to stop! Happy for the trip down memory lane....
I have two initial tales, neither of which took place during a concert, although we have many memorable experiences.
My first memory took place on a Monday morning in early July when I stopped by while on a cycle tour of MA and CT. Walking around the grounds I was drawn to the Shed by a violen and there is the middle of the seating was a young girl, maybe 14 or so, totally lost in playing her violin with such intensity and sweetness, it clearly made a lasting memory.
My second tale took place again on a weekday morning when my wife and I decided to take some pictures and enjoy the quiet. Off to the side near the main house were several singers singing in front of James Levine, who showed such a caring attitude towards his pupils. It was such a personal moment.
I have many, many but two stand out. I was camping on a hill nearby with a baby and an infant. We sat on the lawn for Beethoven's 6th. During the storm section we were soaked by a huge thunderstorm Everything went to the laundromat to be dried. I was also there for Bernstein's Mass performed by Indiana U. with Lenny in attendance (not long before he died). We sat right behind him and my wife touched his arm!
I sang at Tanglewood at the end of the 1978 season, in Haydn's oratorio The Seasons. The weather turned gray and drippy right after I got there, and stayed so through a piano rehearsal and the first orchestra rehearsal -- which the ailing tenor soloist did not sing at. The next morning, when a replacement tenor stood up to sing about the sun, it came out for the first time in almost three days. Thank you, Seth McCoy, for bringing us good weather for the concert. (His duet with Phyllis Bryn-Julson was also brilliant.)
Some years ago my brother Charles, an amateur cellist visited us with his family from England. Yo-Yo Ma was playing that week. So I bought tickets and drove Charles' family out to Tanglewood and, to make the trip even more memorable, I reserved a room at Bascom Lodge located on the summit of Mount Greylock.
I had not realized this was to be an experimental concert with Yo-Yo hooked up to a computer. The cello to computer link was faulty so the music was, well, difficult, a thunderstorm crashed hail on the shed during the concert further reducing what beauty there was in the "music." People walked out in tears.
Afterwards fog descended as we made our way in the dark up to Bascom Lodge; Charles had to walk in front of our car to keep us from going off the edge of the single lane road. We found the lodge had been taken over by Appalachian Trail hikers seeking refuge from the weather and the lodge door was locked. Inside we found our room and beds occupied by wet hikers.
At breakfast next day, in the hikers log book, we read "Gravity was very strong yesterday." Yes it was! But we will not forget our visit to Tanglewood or our night on Mount Greylock.