So I’m picking up some sliced turkey at the Safeway deli counter. The conversation usually goes this way: (1) the counter person asks me what I would like, (2) I place my order, and there is some chitchat about this variety vs. that variety, whether I want cheese or not, and perhaps whether I’d like a sample or some salads also, and then (3) “So, how’s your day been going for you?” So, today, just at the cue for (3), the counter person, a young man I did not recognize, asked—without greeting me by name, or letting on that he knew anything about me other than my current interest in a half-pound of sliced hickory-smoked turkey: “In the Mozart clarinet concerto, if I see four whole notes in a row, is that a sign to improvise and fill in, or what?”
WELL. Without asking who he was (a side issue, at that point), I put down my basket and explained: the figuration is set up beforehand, you need to assume Mozart was using a kind of compositional shorthand, fill in the lines with appropriate passagework using the notated notes as terminus points in each direction, and so on. He nodded, said it probably should be done in the right style—right; of course—and I offered to look over anything he came up with.For all I know, he might have been set up by a roommate to surprise me, or something like that—an affectionate prank. I don’t know, though. All I can say at the moment is that it was a hell of an invigorating conversation to have at the end of a pretty fun day; my editor at Oxford sent me an E-Mail saying she’s seen the book and it’s really beautiful…
So, how’s YOUR day been going for you?