“O! this learning, what a thing it is.”

~William Shakespeare

Had a memory flashback a few mornings ago. I was surfing my four pre-set radio stations—classic rock, new rock, jazz, and the local university’s classical station—and caught the end of Mendelssohn's overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream. The first time I heard it was (wait, let me pull out one of my many lists) in 1995, near the beginning of what I call my Personal Renaissance. There I was, in my early thirties. I’d never heard one live orchestral performance, never seen one Shakespeare play, never read anything by Hemingway or Hawthorne or Homer (gotta show off my alliteration skills). In the mid-nineties, though, some friends took pity and re-introduced me to, among other things, classical music. I say re-introduced, because as a teen, and while taking piano lessons, I did appreciate some of the pieces I played, like Rachmaninoff's “Prelude in C sharp minor” (which, to this day, my hands are too small to hit every note in those massive chords on the last two pages). My appreciation cooled, though, when I stopped taking lessons. My renewed interest led me to buy on a whim a CD of Mendelssohn's music. It wasn't a very good recording. I didn’t know Deutsche Grammophon existed then. But, as I listened to the overture, I fell in love. I played it again and again and again. I loved it so much, I decided I should see the play it was based on. I discovered that the library carried video productions of Shakespeare’s plays (who knew?), and I proudly brought home a copy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As I watched it that afternoon, my kids (ages 5 to 12 at the time) wandered in and out. At some point, I think it was when Helena says, "No, no, I am as ugly as a bear," my oldest two wandered in and stayed and, with no encouragement from me, became instant little Shakespeare fans (it wasn't until we later watched Much Ado that my youngest two were converted). Now, to my memory. The day after watching the play, my 12-yr-old stood on top of the swing set slide and shouted to the sky, "Oh, what fools these mortals be!" To my knowledge, it was the first time in the history of my family that anyone had quoted a line from Shakespeare—voluntarily. It seems that image will always be linked to the music. Sweet.

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