As I mentioned in an earlier post, A Berkshire Tale started out as a single children’s book. My husband Charley and I enjoyed many memorable afternoons and evenings on the lawn at Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. One evening, listening to the lovely violinist, Anne-Sophie Mutter play Mozart, we became enthralled. I decided to write about it through the eyes of a kitten hearing music from the stage for the first time. The little tabby, ZuZu, falls in love with Mozart and is given a memento of her very first concert; the cloth Anne-Sophie used to rest the violin on her shoulder. ZuZu brings it back to her loft bed and declares that this has been the best night of her whole, entire life.
I imagine this reaction is one that many young people have when they hear their first live performance on a stage. It started me thinking about the wonderful places Charley and I had visited in the Berkshires and I decided I wanted to share them with others, particularly children.
With me, it’s all about the place. I am captivated by settings. Tanglewood is a particularly magical one. Listening to concerts on a summer’s evening, a cool breeze carrying the orchestra’s notes through the Koussevitzky Music Shed on to the lawn to an audience of thousands is inspiring. All of the senses are actively involved in creating such an awesome experience. I remember my own first concert at Tanglewood. The final piece was Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture – Seiji Ozawa conducting, church bells wildly pealing, cymbals clashing, cannons blasting out on the grass, fireworks overhead. Magnificent!
Since then, there have been many other concerts, but it was Anne-Sophie Mutter’s Mozart violin concertos that stirred me to begin writing what would become the first of the ten tales contained in A Berkshire Tale.
Nathaniel Hawthorne once lived on the property where he wrote his own Tanglewood Tales. The name for the summer home of the BSO originated from this title and it was the reason I chose to call my book A Berkshire Tale. It’s a place that stirs the imagination and invites creativity to enter in. Like a book, it can be a sanctuary where one can safely dwell and enjoy beauty as it unfolds. It is a wonderful setting for children to first experience the thrill of a live concert. Maybe, like ZuZu, they will even fall in love with Mozart.