I can’t remember a time when music was not part of my life. I’m told I could sing before I could speak. My parents sang. Their friends sang. Most also played several instruments. I knew everyone not only by name, but also by their voice part. Aunt Wanda was a soprano. Uncle Andrew and Uncle John were basses. My parents: alto and tenor.
I would wake up to Schubert, Chopin or Beethoven, who (I was convinced) lived inside our transistor radio. Classical music set the tempo as I got ready for school. In the evenings, radio concerts would be our backdrop for supper. Mom’s serenades would gently put me to sleep.
The song and cheer offered an escape from the communist hardship and the grayness around us. Outside there were tanks pointed at people, inside we felt sheltered by the power of friendship. Outside the air was heavy with lies, inside we discussed unbiased news from ‘underground’ publications. Outside they played military marches for communist parades, inside we lost ourselves in the gallop of William Tell or the waves of The Blue Danube.
No matter how bad or dangerous the world was, music was our shield.