Amazing to think that John Field, an eighteenth century Irish composer, travelled all the way to Russia, braving all the hardships associated with long distance travel at that time, settled there, married and had an illegitimate son (Leon Leonov) later a famous tenor as well as a pianist son, Adrian, by his wife, Adelaide percheron, a French pianist and former pupil.
He had moved to London by 1793, where he became a pupil of Muzio Clementi (1752-1832) and travelled with him to Paris, Vienna and St Petersburg, where Clementi left, and Field settled in Moscow.
We tend to associate nocturnes with Chopin (1810-1849) and Liszt (1811-1886) but they had been very much influenced by Field’s work – his 18 nocturnes in particular.
As well as going back to Bach’s Prelude and Fugue No II, I have started to play Field’s delightful Nocturne No 5. Not difficult to play, but hard to play well.
Middle of August – time for last minute booking at one of the Further Education Colleges. When I first retired, I was taking eight classes a week – though one was a ‘cook and eat’ course. Next term I’ve only enrolled for three – Literature at the CityLit and at the Mary Ward Centre in Queen Square I’ve enrolled for Photoshop and Photography – the latter two to help me with this blog. I’m still of course taking private piano lesson with my rather dishy tutor.
I’m not very good at painting or drawing but had a great time taking art classes at the CityLit when the art classes were on the top floor of the old Victorian School on the site where the new building now stands. Not only were there lots of stairs but being built for children the steps were lower than normal and climbing felt really odd – even before I broke my hip.
it’s that time of year – when the Further Education colleges publish their prospectuses for the coming year. Of course the fees have gone up again, while there are always threats to reduce government funding. The powers-that-be don’t seem to realise how much the NHS saves in anti-depressants and other medication by getting retired people out of the house.
I had an excellent dressmaking tutor – very strict and fussy. Everything had to be sewn carefully and finished well. I must have made at least half a dozen pairs of trousers from that pattern. The trouble with clothes you make yourself out of good quality fabric is that they won’t wear out and you’ve no excuse to visit GAP to buy new.
From my memoir Woman in a White Coat
After I retired I signed up for lots of classes, some at one Further Education college and some at another – painting, drawing, cooking, history of art, Spanish, creative writing, pottery, dressmaking – everything I hadn’t had time for when I was working. It wasn’t just that I hadn’t had the time, I hadn’t had the desire. My mind was always so full of work. Even when I was at the theatre, I would find myself thinking about a difficult diagnosis or a hiccup in our research.
I enjoyed the freedom of doing things that weren’t important, things that weren’t a matter of life and death.
‘It’s wonderful,’ I said to my art teacher. ‘Nothing I do now is critical. If my drawing of the model looks like a human being, great. If not, at least I produced something. If my new cookery dishes taste good or if I can’t eat them and have to throw them out, if I manage to remember whether Rubens came first or Constable, it just doesn’t matter. You can’t imagine the relief and feeling of freedom. My life is no longer constantly punctuated by drama, by death, by irrevocable mistakes – where every word I put in a report is crucial. It would have been devastating if what I said in my report was misinterpreted by the surgeons and the wrong treatment given.
Knitted this tribute to Vivienne Westwood so long ago, I don’t remember how I did it all. Machine knitting was one of the many classes I went to after I retired besides writing. Over the years I went to art history, drawing. painting, cooking, dressmaking, music theory. piano. Spanish, Basque, philosophy and more.
I made a couple of jumpers on my knitting machine but mainly knitted lengths of knitting using pure wool. I then felted it in the washing machine and used the fabric to make myself and my partner fleeces that were light but very warm. I sold my knitting machines some years ago and don’t miss them. The clothes you make yourself seem to last forever. You wish they would wear out so you could buy new ones. Now I mainly use my sewing machines for repairs but recently I did make a complete new set of cushion covers for out living room .