A Little-Known Fact About Me. You Just May be Very Surprised!

You know that I’m pretty-much an open book. I have no secrets.  But there’s stuff about me that you may not know.  It’s funny how little tidbits about a person come to fruition.

It happened over the weekend while Bonaparte and I were having dinner.  We listen to classical music when we dine.

And we listen to classical music via the TV!  The MC channels play nothing but music!

You can rest assured that this was the way my Frenchman was raised.  His stepfather was a classical concert pianist, Jean Casadesus. And in their Paris apartment, there was not one Baby Grand piano but there were two!

Bonaparte’s step dad, Jean.  I died the first time I saw the photo. An unlit cigarette as a prop!  God bless the French!

Let’s just say that my Frenchman grew up without a TV but with plenty of live music!

Bonaparte’s family was very refined but I don’t think his stepdad dressed like this every night to play at home..

But he DID have a great sense of humor. Here is is modeling Evie’s hat while playing a tune!

And while he was whiling away the hours listening to the tinkering of piano keys, I was listening to other music (Hold on a minute—I wasn’t even born yet!)

The house I grew up in was also filled with music. As early as I can remember, my mother always had the radio on.  When I was very young, I can remember her watching the black & white version of American Bandstand. And some of my best memories of my mother were dancing with her as we watched this show.  We would do The Stroll in the living room.  And the music continued as I got older.

Now THIS is what I remember from my very young days.  American Bandstand in the old-school days.  

On Saturday afternoons, Clay Cole would be on the TV and we would watch the Brits invade the USA with their rock music. Mick Jagger was always a fave!

Clay Cole with the Stones.  Who knew Satisfaction would become a modern day version of classical music?

My dad loved his Irish music.  When I was ten years old, my favorite Christmas present was the Broadway Soundtrack of Oliver.  I can still belt out those songs.

And now that I’m back on Weight Watchers, my favorite song from Oliver is “Food, Glorious Food”  I was singing it when I looked at a bag of unopened Tostito’s in the pantry!

But, classical music was never a part of our listening repertoire.

But then something happened to me one night.  And I’ll tell you all about the music that changed my life!

For money, I used to babysit.  I started at the age of 12. Back then babysitting at twelve years old wasn’t a crime.  Paying the twelve-year-old fifty cents an hour was more of a crime.  Anyway, I used to babysit for a couple’s children.  The couple was very—let’s say, conservative in their lifestyle.  The husband, was an ex-priest and the wife, an ex-nun.  They had two girls.  And whenever I went to their home to babysit, the girls, most of the time, were asleep.  A few times they were up, and they were really great kids!

Now, this wasn’t a family with a big TV—not like the house I grew up in where we had multiple TV’s and zero attention spans.  In fact, their TV set was so small, and my crossed eyes so bad that I couldn’t even watch it.

Usually, I did my homework.  But one night I got bored.  I went over to their console stereo and opened the bottom cabinet to see what kinds of music they had.   (Was I really expecting The Kinks?)  There was nothing of interest to me.  But then, I spotted a boxed set of record albums. This piqued my interest.  On the cover was a scene from a Renoir painting.  I became more interested.

The boxed set was The Reader’s Digest Collection of Light Classical Music.  With nothing to eat that would satisfy an almost thirteen-year old girl, I decided to listen to one of the records in the set.

Little did I know what an impact this boxed set of classical music would have on my life!

My musical epiphany struck me like a bolt of lightening that just about uncrossed my eyes.  The song was Zigeunerweisen, better known as “Gypsy Airs.”  The beautiful homage to the Roma was composed by Pablo de Sarasate in 1878.

But this was the first time I really listened to it and was blown away.

This guy–and he was quite cute as well!

And these notes blew my mind more than Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love!

So blown away, in fact, that the next day, I rode my bike down to the Brightwaters Public Library to see if they had the boxed set. They did.  I took it out and renewed it multiple times. I also made sure I was available for babysitting services whenever the McGovern’s needed me.

Best library on Long Island.  I spent many hours here growing up!

The impact that set of records had on me was astounding.  Since then, I’ve always loved classical music.

But it goes deeper than that.  Classical music is so soothing. It’s so beautiful. It’s so melodic.  And each composer has his own personality.

My favorite composer of all time is Franz Schubert.  His Ballet Music No. 2 from Rosamunde always puts such a smile on my face! His music is just so sweet—I have a hard time coming to terms that he died of syphilis!  What a naughty man!

From the way Franz died, he ate a lot more than Viennese pastries!

My kids were raised on classic rock and classical music.  When we lived in NYC, I would have classical music on the car radio. I thought it was a good way for the boys to unwind after a day of learning!

And yes—this  conversation all happened over dinner with Bonaparte.  As we were listening to music he was unsure of a certain composer whose music was playing.  I mentioned it was Haydn. He doubted me.  And when he found out I was correct, he was pleasantly surprised!  I know my classics!

Image result for classical composer haydn

What’s with the name Franz anyway?  It’s such a popular composer name.  Haydn wears a wig better than I do!

And if you are ever interested in some fun entertainment—try watching movies about the composers.

My favorite is Amadeus.  I swear I’ve seen it at least twenty times at home but the biggest thrill was seeing it on the big screen two weeks ago. I was in heaven!!!!!

The music of Mozart–and those costumes!  Amadeus is tied with Amelie as my favorite movie of all time.  

Related image

And Wolfie was fun!!!!!!

One movie that’s eluded me is “Lisztomania”.  Roger Daltry as Franz Liszt would have been fun to see but I heard it wasn’t that good. I’d still give it a go!

I seriously have to look for this movie!!!!

The pathetic thing is that I learned about Franz Liszt from Tom and Jerry cartoons.  It where my love of the Hungarian Rhapsodies began.

This cartoon cat is more classy than I am! How sad is that???

Another one of my faves was “Impromptu” about Chopin.  It was the first time I ever saw Hugh Grant and I must say, he is a rather handsome version of the sickly composer!  The film also focused on his relation with Georges Sand, played by the great Judy Davis!   This was such a great movie!

This. Movie. Was. Greatness!

Hugh Grant made Chopin look healthier than he was..

The poor guy was so sickly but he produced some of the most beautiful music!

I swear when my kids were younger, I would wake up early on the weekends to watch a series of kid’s shows about the classical composers.  Each week the focus was on a different composer and I cannot remember the name of the show. I think it was either on PBS or Nickelodeon!

I’m pretty sure these are the TV shows I watched with my kids.  I need to look for these because Bonaparte’s granddaughter would love this stuff!

And that’s the fact Jack!  I’ll bet you didn’t know that I’m quite fond of classical music.  BTW, Bonaparte is concerned because he thinks classical music is dying a slow death.  I don’t quite agree with him.

What’s your thoughts?  Do you think classical music is dying?  Do you like classical music? Thoughts please!

And for your listening pleasure, here is Itzhak Perlman with the composition that started it all for me.  Gypsy Airs!

About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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25 Responses to A Little-Known Fact About Me. You Just May be Very Surprised!

  1. hipchick66 says:

    I was 6 years old when my Dad took me to see Fantasia, and my love of classical music began. I still own the album and the DVD of the movie. I also own many other recordings and listen to the classical music radio station. I even played classical piano when I was young and wish I would have stayed with it. No, I don’t think it will ever die…it’s classic after all!!

  2. Christine D says:

    Oh thank goodness for music……..I like it all except heavy metal, hard rock.
    My favorite is singer/songwriter because they tell stories in most poetic way. I like classical, the Catholic school I went to, (vicious as Roman rule) was big on classical. A lot of the movies we grew up on too had classical in background. I love Joshua Bell and his classical violin playing. Of course Perleman is supreme. I got to see Placido Domingo once……heavenly.
    Like singer Shawn Colvin says, “if there were no music, I would not get by”. Says it all for me.
    I do like to sing too, I have belonged to a few groups over the years and it was a great fun and challenge.
    When I was kid I would sing and record myself and playback so I could improve.
    Funny thing is when I was about 13, my parents got me guitar lessons. Well the teacher was about
    20 year old hunk of meat, and I couldn’t think around him, I would simply melt with admiration and
    die inside over my embarrassing attraction to him. So cute.i did not learn how to play guitar, needless to say.
    You are always good for trip down memory lane……Thanks!
    Chris d

    • Catherine says:

      Hey Christine. You are quite welcome!! The nuns who taught me were more into Simon and Garfunkle and 1960’s folk songs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sang “A Hundred Miles” and “He’s Got The Whole World In His HAnds”. Regardless–at least the nuns got us thinking about music at all! I fear kids today are being robbed of the great music we were subjected to!!!! XOXOXOXO!!!

  3. Judy says:

    Music has always been around for my family, all types of it. And OMG, Catherine, Amadeus was such a fabulous film! The stage show is on at the moment in London, at the National Theatre on the South Bank, and we have tickets for next Wednesday, April 4th, we are so looking forward to it!
    I love the variety of your posts. Great stuff! Thank you!

    • Catherine says:

      Judy! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG!!! I wish I was in London right now–I would make sure I had tickets for Amadeus!! You are so Lucky. Please tell me how it was!! You are sure to have a fantastic time!!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!!

  4. Fiona says:

    I grew up listening to my mum’s classical LP’s, she usually played them on a Sunday morning while cooking the roast dinner. I still love hearing this music, although I’m not great on who composed what! I’m a great music lover although I can’t stand rap! (I don’t class that as music anyway, it’s just a dreadful noise IMO.) Have a great Easter weekend. Xxx

    • Catherine says:

      Fiona. I’m not a fan of rap either unless it’s Eminem–or old school hip-hop–it’s more rhythmic! But classical makes me swoon. I have to admit–I miss the Sunday Roast dinner. I grew up with it. And it ran the gamut of: Roast beef; fresh ham; leg of lamb and roast chicken. Every Sunday at noon!!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!!

  5. Catherine, one thing that I earned about you from reading your blog is that you are full of surprises. The fact that you love classical music from a young age is just another fun Catherine fact.
    My classical music background, aside from cartoons and movies, didn’t come until my Frenchie entered my life. As with your Frenchie, mine grew up listening to the genre, along with opera, while I grew up with more books than music (though my parents were big band, crooners, etc), my brother had a fantastic music collection and stereo in our living room.
    Anyway…for the past 2 years now, we have purchased 3/99 subscriptions for the PHL Orchestra. Last year was the most wonderful music I have ever heard. Yannick Nezet-Sequin did a series of French composers including Natalie Boulanger, among others, and spent time educating the audience about these wonderful people. My favorite piece from last year was Carmina Burana. I just LOVED it!
    To change Bonaparte’s idea that classical is a dying genre, next year check out the performances by the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra and Philadelphia Sinfonia, if you haven’t already. These are kids playing at world class level. Truly wonderful performances!
    Thanks to my Frenchie, and classical music, most everything else sounds like noise to me now..WRTI classical is my go to station. Even though I don’t know what I’m listening to and can’t identify the instruments, I love it!
    Best wishes et Bonne Pacques!

    • Catherine says:

      Hey Maribeth!!! What is it with the Frenchmen??????? Their musical tastes are just so refined!!!!! Truth be told, there’s nothing more beautiful and melodic than a great listen to the classic genre!!! I’ll take your lead and look into the Philly Youth Orchestra and Philly Sinfonia!!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!!

  6. Amelia says:

    Ahhh Catherine, love it when you decides to go classical on us. You are a multifaceted lady. It’s nice to see you let your serious side comes out to play. Although you still give it to us with your signature wits and humor. It doesn’t mean that I like it any less when when you waxed lyrical about hair, makeup, clothes and shoes.

    I wasn’t a true convert to classical music until my late thirties. By then, my taste in music were slowly changing. Some of my classical favorites are: Vivaldi “Four Seasons”; Emmanuel Chabrier “Espana & Habanera”; Maurice Ravelo “Borelo” London Symphony Ochestra conducted by Valery Gergiev; Saint-Saens “The Swan”; Mendelssohn “Spring”; Offenbach “Barcarolle”, Bach, Mozart, Strauss; METALLICA….hahaha, just trying to see if you’re still reading. My son freaked out when he found out I like some of his music. He was in his teens. Moms aren’t allowed to listen to heavy metal. How about Leonard Cohen? Can he be elevated to classical status now he’s gone. I love his music and poetry.

    Great memories of you and your mom dancing to American Bandstand. I watched Dick Clark and AB in the 70s on up. Love the pictures of Bonaparte’s step-dad playing piano at home in his tux. A clue to a privileged background. Wasn’t his dad a painter?
    Good luck with WW, hopes the pounds are melting away. 🙂 XOXO Amelia

    • Catherine says:

      LOL–Amelia, you have great taste in the classics–although I’m not big on heavy metal, I DO love Led Zepplin–Robert Plant has the greatest set of lungs ever! My HM band of choice is Anthrax believe it or not!! Music is just so important to me! I love Bizet’s Carillon–it’s great ding-dong Christmas music! And Leonard Cohen–I’ve loved him since I was a sullen high school girl!!!

      Oh…that tux. Yeah, in my house my dad wore tee shirts and baggy shorts. We are worlds apart but it works!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

      • Amelia says:

        My dad was a musician of the guitar, steel guitar, mandolin, ukulele and cello variety.
        I can only remember seeing him in a pair of tux twice and both from a tuxedo rental place.
        I’m so proud to say that in my sixth decade. I’ve out grown my taste for philistine music.
        A term coined by my grandma…or maybe she borrowed it from some else. My paternal grandma played the organ in church and taught piano and music. Some of her favorite classical composers include Edvard Grieg, Jean Sibelius, Wagner, Mozart, Bach….and the list goes on. Wish I have her old metronome. Oh yeah love Led Zepplin (Stairway to Heaven, Ship of Fools…). Robert Plants love him :). XO Amelia

  7. Sandra says:

    Lovely post. I remember my Mom dancing to the Pony with the vacuum cleaner while watching “Bandstand” with me! 🙂

    We’ve had subscriptions over the years to the NY Philharmonic and Westchester Philharmonic and the average age of audience members was definitely north of 55! I do not think classical music will disappear, but the audience is certainly shrinking.

    Camille Saint-Saens is my favorite composer. Classic soul music by day, classical music at night. 🙂
    Enjoyable post, Cathy.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Sandra!!! A little fact, my husband’s great grandfather was Andre Messager, the French composer (check him out on Wiki), was a student of Saint-Saens for a while. My son Roman loves Saint-Saens and so does Bonaparte. I’m a fan but need to learn more about him. Oh, if I was still living in NYC, I would belong to the NY Philharmonic. I used to live for the concerts in the park back when I was in my twenties!!!! XOXOXOXO

  8. The Lakewoman says:

    Cathe….we listened to classic during dinner when my boys were growing. They used to tell people we listened to “cartoon music” during dinner.

  9. Q.D says:

    I love the fact you describe your Ex-Priest, Ex-Nun married couple as conservative, yet just the combo of “ex priest”, “ex nun” and “married” is such a glorious scandal! There is a story there that I want to know!!!

  10. Thanks for the classical suggestions! I would like to listen to more classical music but just don’t know what is good. I listen to a lot of oldies, Sinatra, Ella, etc. LOL re the Oliver soundtrack – it was the first album I ever bought (the movie soundtrack) at age eleven and I was obsessed with it! I still have it downloaded on my Ipod.

  11. Juliet says:

    I’ll give almost any music a chance – pop, early 20th century, impressionist (Debussy – swoooooon) and I especially like early music, Tallis for instance. I also love Handel – as much for his music as his social conscience – google the Foundling Hospital in London and Handel… 🙂

  12. Tine says:

    Hi Catherine, great blog! You never fail to put a smile on my face – I have been following you for at while, but this is my first comment =).
    I absolutely love classical music – Chopin, Bach and Vivaldi just to mention a few. I especially love Yo Yo Ma´s rendering of Bach, but then there’s Goldberg Variations as well. This is probably in the lighter end of classical, but it might actually be a good place to start for classical “beginners”.
    Anyway – thanks again for always lighting up my day – have a great one =)

  13. Haylee says:

    I love classical music and have done since a school trip to hear Peter and the Wolf, when I was 8. But it’s only in the last ten years that I’ve felt I’ve reached an age for it to be acceptable to listen to it – which is ridiculous of course. But I used to switch the radio over if anyone under the age of 30 used to get in my car, so I didn’t seem uncool!! I regularly put it on for relaxation sessions at school now though. I’ve just started listening to a new podcast – Case Notes by Classic Fm. Quite interesting if you want to know a little more about the composers, but centred around crimes involved with them. The first episode is about Haydn’s missing head, you should give it a listen!

  14. Sandra says:

    My father always made us watch The Firestone Hour on TV. Plus we had album of “The Nutcracker Suite” I used to dance to it all the time. When I took piano lessons it was to classical music. So I’ve loved Calssical music my whole life long. When I’d paint I’d listen to operas and again classical music. Love Amadeus. Plus I adore Mozart. So I’m right there with you!

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