Music is the theme that binds our society together. It connects our lives through time and space to better times. This old record has been sitting on my shelf for weeks. Yet it brought a moment of happiness to two people.
I use to collect old vinyl record albums, and now I can't seem to get rid of them. I don't listen to them. I just like looking at them. I have them piled in my doctor's office, hidden away in cabinets. On a monthly rotation, I pull out a few to display. The artwork makes me happy. Someone will look at my album and will see The Pretenders, for example, and think back to the time when they first heard it.
An old Russian woman was in my office today. We were going over her blood pressure medications. She looked over and saw one of my vinyl records, a 1978 recording of Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Concerto Nos. 1 and 2, performed by the Moscow Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra.
"Is that Maxim?" she asks in a very broken English.
"Is that Maxim? Who is the conductor?"
I flipped over the record (the front was covered at the bottom) to reveal the conductor's name, Maxim Shostakovich.
"That's Dimitri's son," she says. In the most humble Russian voice you can imagine, "I know him. I made a film about him. He's living in America now."
She is no longer an old Russian widow with blood pressure problems. She is young Miročka, a journalist and well-known film producer. Her life is good. It is the 1960s. She is living with her husband in an apartment in Moscow.
She smiles at me with a young smile, and wishes me a good day, "Good health to you."
A few hours later a 91-year-old man was in my office. I had cared for his wife. He lives alone now. He has plenty of free time these days, now that he's widowed. I keep meaning to have lunch with him, sometime. I'm too busy at work. He was a professor in a biochemistry lab where he married his lab assistant. They'd been married over 50 years.
He looked over at my vinyl records. He sees the Shostakovich.
"Jeannie and I saw the premier of his 7th Symphony. It was in Chicago before the war."
I replied, "I don't think I've ever listened to that record, or if I have I don't remember. I just like the artwork."
"You should. I think his music is on YouTube. It's very powerful."
And then he starts singing it. He sings the 7th Symphony. In that moment, he's the young scientist on a date with his beautiful lab assistant. The music stirs his soul and he is happy.
I look at my schedule and realize I am busy the rest of the week. Perhaps we can have lunch next week.