Friday, February 01, 2008


The night before the audition, my mother booked us in to a nearby country house, even though the school was only forty five minute drive from our home in London. A very handsome Australian boy showed us the grounds. My mum said Menuhin cried during my rendition of Kol ni Drei. I'm still not convinced by this. Anyway, he asked me to come to his school.

I was off to the land of midnight feasts! It would be my special place, my own Malory Towers!

'Do you have any brothers or sisters who play?' Menuhin asked.

I eagerly told him about my much more talented younger brother.

'Well he must come to my school too' said the maestro.

Though my brother seemed happy in his current school, which parent could refuse the great man? So, a year after me, my brother also came to the Yehudi Menuhin School.

Several years afterwards, aged seventeen, I started to play with a young orchestra that was thrilling audiences across Europe under the batons of Claudio Abbado, Sascha Schneider and Rudolf Serkin. My first professional gig was a month in Venice. My second, playing Mozart concertos in London with Serkin. It was such a rich experience it was hard to accept the generous fee. I was not a member, but I seemed to be getting a lot of work with the group. Though I didn't technically belong, it felt like home.

'You should hear my brother!' I said.

A year later my brother became a member of The Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

When I moved back to London from my studies in America, I practiced Haydn's D major concerto endlessly for up-coming auditions. Meanwhile, my brother was playingnot only in the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, but also in a quartet with my best friend - from whom I was then briefly estranged - and the girl who was my landlady, and they were rehearsing in our living room. Later he also joined a group with a man with whom I had been in love for ten years but whom I never saw.

Somehow, through no fault of his own, and often through me putting myself down and putting him up on a pedestal, my dear brother seemed to be moving in to every space that I carved out for myself just as I thought I'd found one in which my soul could sing.

Since last spring, here in Provence, I have had a beautiful room of my own overlooking the Mont Ventoux. It is a room which nourishes me, in which my beloved brings me tea or a glass of wine when he comes to check in at the end of his working day, a room from which I descend to our mutual life calmer and more centred, a room where I have my Buddha, my Dogon Horse and Rider and where I can listen to Ragas, or the silence of the starling clouds and can burn incense. In an attempt to lay a floor in his studio, Julian has temporarily (and whilst I am mostly away working) moved his office in to a corner of this room, and is keeping it very neat.

Yesterday, with Radio 4 playing and my husband working briefly in the space, I felt like that little girl, that late teenager, and that woman in her early twenties, all three of whom were desperately in search of a home. Yesterday I forgot not only that that I already have one, but that I also have someone with whom to share it. This post is a love-letter to that person, thanking him for letting my soul sing and excusing myself for the odd wrong note.


Blogger Beth said...

Ruth, I elbowed my husband out of our small bathroom yesterday, and today he returned the favor, elbowing me out of the kitchen. He turned to me and laughed; I got it and for once had the grace not to be annoyed but to laugh too.

I hear you. I was an only child in a big house, but there was never enough privacy with four or five adults watching my every move. I've never stopped craving my own space, and having left a country home where I finally made my own room for meditation, drawing, weeping, writing, thinking, I no longer have that -- but I do have a beautiful apartment overlooking a park in a wonderful city, largely because my own beloved has pushed me out of old patterns. Yes, occasional wrong notes can be forgiven, and I do create many. What you wrote was beautiful, and beautifully said too.

10:44 PM  
Blogger ruth said...

thank you dear Beth!

8:37 AM  
Blogger Rosie said...

Ruth, I have the same need for a personal space and privacy. I am very sensitive to sounds around me since they conflict with whatever happens to be playing on my own mental soundtrack. My teenage childrens' music/television/radio/piano playing and drumming is ever present and perhaps the most difficult part of parenting...apart from endless chauffering...

Family life is hard for an only child like me, who likes her own company.
I have a room at the top of the house where I can be, and I could not manage without it.

I hope that your wrong note was followed by harmony.

10:23 AM  

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