Sunday, July 4, 2010

Give Me Liberty (and also Chopin)

My cousin Tiru was a scientist from India who came to America in the late 1960's. He tutored me in physics, piano, star-gazing and PG Wodehouse. He died suddenly 3 years ago, but I recall his July 4th story.

He lived alone in a small house in La Habra, outside of Los Angeles. When not figuring out how to protect astronauts from space radiation (his day job), he played a gorgeous 19th-century Steinway that he rebuilt.

On July 4th, fireworks were in full, noisy bloom. There was a muffled bump at the door. He opened it, and there stood a large grey dog.

Tiru looked up and down the street - no owner in sight. The dog let himself in. He lapped up the bit of ice cream my cousin offered. Then Tiru went back to playing the piano. Chopin Nocturnes were his favorite. The dog settled under the piano, listening peacefully.

When the fireworks were over, the dog got up, and walked to the door. Tiru let him out, and the dog went on his way.

Dogs don't like fireworks. But they do like Chopin.

Happy July 4th.

Tiru took me to see Artur Rubinstein in his 90's at Orchestra Hall in Chicago. I remember Mayor Richard Daley (the elder) gave the great pianist a special plaque. Funny seeing the two of them on stage together! Here's Rubinstein playing a Nocturne that I once played for my much-loved and admired cousin:


  1. A lovely story, and it's always a pleasure to hear a Chopin nocturne (whether from a master or a keen amateur). Welcome to the blogging world, Hudsonette!

  2. What a beautiful story. I forgot all about it. I still can't listen to Chopin Nocturnes without feeling so sad.

  3. What a wonderful story. I am looking forward to more.

  4. Lovely story, beautiful music. Yay for you on the blog!

  5. Great story. Great music. Just great!

  6. You heard Artur Rubinstein play Chopin live?!

    I'm so jealous. :-)

    I have his complete recordings of the Nocturnes, but it's not the same.