Preamble: Usually I blog about a themed concert either before or just after giving it. This year is the first time that I’ve managed to “stick around” to celebrate Mother’s Day on Maui. In addition to playing music relevant to this special day, I added a few pieces to entertain my 76-year old mother who was present in the audience.
Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of each May. Anna Jarvis is credited for her effort to get US President Wilson to issue a proclamation to recognize this day. Shortly after giving this special concert at Roselani Place on May 10, I read that my friend Connie is related to Anna Jarvis. This made my research even more relevant!
When I think of music for Mother’s Day, I immediately remember a song I came across when I was a teenager on Okinawa. “Mother of Mine” has a sticky melody with lyrics that, when sung, always causes my eyes to moisten. The only sheet music I managed to find online was, luckily free, a transcription on Musescore of Mother of Mine.
Another song high on my list of “Mother’s Day” tributes is ABBA’s Mamma Mia. Not only is it one of ABBA’s greatest hits, the title is also known as the name of the broadway musical and subsequent movie (2008) that continues to attract middle-aged women, in particular. I recall attending the preview of the musical in a packed theatre in London in 1999. After resisting singing out loud, my colleagues and I finally jumped from our seats and burst into song at the end, when we were told that we could sing along to “Waterloo!” We all stared at the lone man still seated and thought to ourselves, “he shouldn’t be here.”
The instrumental theme from the film “Terms of Endearment” (1983) reminds me of the love and struggle between mother and daughter. There are several solo piano transcriptions of Michael Gore’s music to the movie online, including the one below.
As with all my free concerts for the elderly audience, I use the dim sum or tapas approach — a little bit of everything. This view of “variety as the spice of life” is simply portfolio diversification to minimize risk. If the audience is not familiar with “Mother of Mine” or “Mamma Mia” or “Terms of Endearment” it is time to return to the classics.
Brahm’s famous lullaby conjures up images of a mother rocking her baby to sleep in a cradle. Wiegenlied, or “Cradle Song” is Johannes Brahms’ Opus 49 No. 4 in Eb major. I simply played various piano transcriptions I found in my collection, one after another, long enough to put someone to sleep. Here’s a solo arrangement with a long cadenza towards the end. As I type this, I keep finding more arrangements!
Finally I tell the story of Mozart and his mother. While much is known about Mozart and his father who played a major role in his musical career, little is known about his mother. She accompanied Mozart on a trip that was planned for Munich and Paris because his father could not leave his job. Mozart and his mother left Salzburg in September 1777, but he alone returned 16 months later in January 1779. Anna Maria Mozart fell ill, bed-ridden, and into a coma. Three weeks later, she died in July 1778. Mozart’s father accused him of killing her.
While grieving, Mozart wrote two sonatas in minor keys during this time: Violin Sonata No. 21 in E minor (K 304) and Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor. The second movement of the piano sonata, in F major, is particularly poignant. I’m not entirely sure if the 9-year old pianist in the following video understands the background of the piece. Every note is a teardrop from Mozart, andante cantabile con espressione. [Download the free sheet music from IMSLP.]
Next Mother’s Day Concert, I will play the theme from Angela’s Ashes and Paul Simon’s “Mother and Child Reunion.” Maybe I’ll be lucky to find a singer for the following titles:
- Mama’s Song by Carrie Underwood and others
- A Song for Mama by Boys II Men
- That Wonderful Mother of Mine by Clyde Hager and Walter Goodwin
- A Mother’s Day by Tom Douglas
ADDED June 28, 2015