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In the middle of all the tsores, we went out three times this past week. We feel like rich socialites. But there was a free lecture, a free concert, and one concert for which one of us got in free. The first lecture and concert were by Charles Rosen, a great pianist and musicologist. It was the Yoda effect -- this shambling, short old man with his shirt hanging out of his pants who suddenly sounded like God the moments his hands touched the keyboard. He made me like Chopin, a feat no one has hitherto accomplished. His lecture rambled like crazy, but nobody cared because it was so interesting. It was about the annus mirabilis of 1811, around which a new generation of great composers (Liszt, Chopin, etc.) was born. I don't think I'll ever see anyone of Rosen's knowledge or capacity speak or play again. This was made especially evident at the last concert we went to, which was Christopher O'Riley, the host of NPR's "From the Top," doing a live version of the radio show with local musicians. FTT is a show in which he introduces, interviews, and accompanies young classical musicians. We love the show, and he was just as good in person. He played some of the Beethoven Diabelli variations and kicked ass. The meat of the show, though, was the local kids he introduced, and they were on the whole abysmal. The talent pool in our schools is about as deep as the 2010 KC Royals bullpen. And it's just going to get worse from here. Build up your record libraries now, folks, because classical music is going to go away in twenty years. (Mr. O'Riley himself has hedged his bets by building his own career on his piano arrangements of bands like Radiohead.) In the meantime, though, the trick will be to get out and enjoy ourselves as much as we can.

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