20. May 2010 · Comments Off on Generosity · Categories: Links

A couple, Alvin and Ellen Cohen, have donated over 1,500 compact disks to the College of Southern Maryland. Alvin, who appears to be the collector, never purchased more than one performance or interpretation of a composition. Amazing. So this is quite a collection!

In reading the article I hurt to read this:

As a child growing up over his family’s grocery store in Southeast Washington, D.C., Alvin Cohen begged his parents for piano lessons.

Following two years of lessons, his music teacher informed his mother, “You are wasting your money he will never, ever learn to play,” he recalled, adding that the lessons stopped abruptly — but his love of classical music did not.

Ouch. I just refuse to say “never, ever” to anyone. I might say something to university students about the possibility of success if it seems quite impossible for them to become professionals, but “never ever” to a child? Nope. I just can’t do it.

It’s interesting to note that this didn’t discourage Mr. Cohen’s love of music. A relief to read it too.

I love, too, the story of how they met:

During a luncheon at the Chilean-American Institute in Santiago, while he was there studying economic development on a Fulbright grant, he met his wife, Ellen, whose family had emigrated from Germany to Chile in 1939.

During the lunch, she learned of his love of music and offered him a ticket to join her at a local performance of the opera “Il Trovatore.”

“It was comical, but they didn’t mean for it to be,” Ellen Cohen said, explaining that the leading man kept stepping on his sword. “I was proud that I could offer this ticket, but then I felt awkward because [the performance] was so terrible,” she said.

“The voices were lovely, but it was incongruous. Every time [the leading man] took his hat off and turned, he would step on his sword. And when [the leading lady] was turning around, she was stepping on the hem of her gown. It was difficult not to laugh, but you had to laugh,” Alvin Cohen said.

And so the Cohens’ courtship began.


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