What would you do if you had to cash in your chips early? For me, it felt right to take some time to clear my head – it ended up being about a year. For income, I retained my teaching jobs, and collected some disability through the Musicians Union, as well as a disability policy I had bought years before. Yes, you should buy disability insurance when you are young! The Social Security Administration says, “the sobering fact for 20-year-olds is that more than 1-in-4 of them becomes (fully) disabled before reaching retirement age”. The New York Times reports, “that if you’re 25 years old, you have an 80 percent chance of experiencing a disability before age 65 that will keep you out of work for 90 days or more”. In a nutshell, I had the luxury of being able to just sit quietly for a while to figure out my next move.
I looked around, and applied for several jobs outside of music. The most notable, was several interviews with Merrill Lynch investments. They seemed very interested, but stopped calling after an interview where all I could talk about was music. I accepted that it had to be music after all, but what?
Since I retired so late in the season, it was too late to apply for any of the summer conducting programs that could potentially move that part of my life forward. In the spring of 1999, I had a good conversation with Murry Sidlin, one of the conducting faculty in Aspen, and he suggested that I apply for the Academy of Conducting the following summer. I was starting to feel like there might be a direction for me there. The following fall, I submitted my application for the summer of 2000. It was the first year of a new program they had rolled out, and I was so pleased to be accepted. It was a whirlwind 9 weeks, but I learned so much from my peers as well as the 1,000 or so musicians in attendance that summer. Little did I know this would create a major shift in my life, musically, socially and spiritually.
Ok, I'm just going to say it. The best reason to travel, besides the interesting people, unusual foods and architecture that you could never see at home, is the art. There, I said it. Let's say you loved Picasso as I do and wanted to see all of his works? Well, you'd have to do quite a bit of traveling. His works can be found in Paris, Boston, Barcelona and St. Petersburg, to name just a few cities. Let's say you liked Gustav Klimt? In Boston, we had one piece travel to the MFA a few years ago, but otherwise, we don't own one in Boston. If you go to the Belvedere in Vienna though, you can see 18 of his largest prints in one room!
Sadly, most works of art don't travel.
On my recent visit to the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice, I was able to see several works of art that I had never seen before. For example, of the 10 pieces that Picasso worked on in 1911, all are dispersed around the world in New York, Venice, Prague and Switzerland as well as in several private collections. Le poète (below) was painted in 1911 along with themes on Guitar, Violin, Mandolin and Clarinet in the same year. All are considered part of his cubism period. Too bad none of my peers ever met Picasso. Maybe there would be a L'homme et le trombone!
La Baignade (On the Beach) (below), from 1937, is so obscure that it doesn't show up in a complete listing of his works. It is full of humor and playfulness. Qualities that show up in much of Picasso's works.
I had never seen Gino Severini's work before. His Sea = Dancer below reminds me of the work of Georges Braque and others from the futurist movement in Paris in the early 1900's.
I am continually amazed at what is available to us in our travels. So with that said, my final words from this visit to Venice are the following: Go to the Peggy Guggenheim collection. She had exquisite taste and you'll get to enjoy it in only about an hour of your day. È per la venezia. Da qui a Firenze! (That's it for Venice. Onwards to Florence!)