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· Valentine's Day Music ·

 · Three Centuries Old · It's fortunate the instrument Bartolomeo Cristofori invented some three hundred years ago is known nowadays only as the piano. Pianoforte better marks its real appeal, of course — soft and loud — and its proper achievement, hammering home (literally via a technical trick called an "escape mechanism") a new musical experience, one I suspect Prince Ferdinando de'Medici of Florence recognized: the sounds of love and war at once.

I got thinking about all this at my son's piano concert tonight. I'd earlier been following the news. Between Blix and Bush, of course, I'm glad my escape mechanism was just musical. I couldn't help thinking, though, that the distance between love and war — between Debussy's "L'Isle Joyeuse" and Liapunov's "Lezginka," say — isn't really that far. In my generation making love not war seemed the thing, but today "studying war no more" isn't quite our forte.

Still, I'm hopeful that like Suave's encore, we might in fact rest in the piano peace of Grieg's "Arietta."

It really is heartening Valentine's Day Music.

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