November 18
by Anita Rosen

I believe music lends beauty and solemnity to otherwise mundane occasions. I believe music has the power to unify diverse populations: Observe the effect of the 1812 Overture every Fourth of July on the Boston Esplanade or the singing of our national anthem anywhere, anytime. One need experience only once the swell and passion of Handel’s Messiah to understand the power of music.

Music always has been here. Well before Guttenberg tinkered with his printing press, humans were telling their stories through cadenced chanting. Prenatally, we tune in to the maternal pulse, establishing a primal knowledge of rhythm.

My early musical memories centered on the Philco in our living room and connect me to baby boomers everywhere. That radio played all day, everything from classical selections to the tight harmonies of the Andrew Sisters and the Mills Brothers. After that, it was an easy leap to Elvis, Paul Anka, the Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry and infinite numbers of one-hit, doo-wap groups. The ’60s ushered in the Beatles, folk rock, protest songs and the mind-stretching, story-telling lyrics of Billy Joel, Don McLean, Elton John and Paul Simon. Music defines the eras in which we live.

I believe music brings us together, whether it is to perform or simply to enjoy. Our family sang, starting with uncomplicated tunes which morphed, along with our children, into complex melodies. We are fortunate to have a son who enjoys music and a daughter who, through an amazing vocal gift, continues to add exponentially to the family’s lyrical delight. Now, we witness the repetition of this musical waltz: As our children become singers of lullabies, we watch them teach their children to cherish these same melodies.

William Congreve wrote in “The Mourning Bride”: Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast. Music helped my father leave this world. Upon his illness, our daughter Ami sent her grandfather a tape of her singing his favorite songs, a tape so personal that, upon his death, she reclaimed it. Watching him listen to this tape was the last time I saw my father smile. As he slipped into a coma, Ami arrived from Israel, and, together with my sister, we sang a song that remains close to me today. I believe this music provided a gentle exit for a man much loved and helped us put our sorrow into perspective.