One of the fruits of forming a Short Story Book group, is meeting people who not only share an embrace of fine literature, but who might also enjoy a strong connection to the music world.
Judith and Stan Jacobs fit nicely into this dual universe, having become members of my shrinking degrees of separation literary and musical repository. Their emigration from Ann Arbor Michigan to the East Bay (CA) last Spring had released my welled-up memories of the Interlochen Arts Academy that drew my interest as a 1960’s era violin student. At the time, I’d thumbed through colorful brochures with appealing photos of uniformed Junior Orchestra members who tapped into my ardent desire to attend the Ann Arbor-based summer camp, but tight finances impeded a journey to the Midwest. As it happened, I traveled to Oberlin, Ohio five years later which encapsulated my Midwestern experience. (Degrees of separation seemed to vanish when Judith Jacobs mentioned a forte pianist and a harpsichord professor who were her personal ties to the Oberlin Conservatory)
My eventual emigration to Berkeley came with an outreach to the social/literary realm of MEET-UP, and by a quirk of fate, my newly arrived “friends” Stan and Judith Jacobs, drawn to my Short Story group, brought an additional gift the table.
Stan a retired, Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences, University of Michigan, and his wife, Judith, a digital artist, bestowed a living literary tribute to their late daughter, Natalie, who authored a beautiful tome dedicated to the life of Franz Schubert.
When Your Song Breaks the Silence is a lyrically written book in the creative nonfiction genre that is without doubt, meticulously researched and wrapped in finite detail, yet it remains a marvel of inspired artistic creation.
One of my favorite quotes:
“Reimagined as music, Wilhelm Müller’s twelve poems sang in twelve different voices, telling the story of love frozen and shattered on the hard stone of winter. “Winterreise,” “Winter’s Journey,” they were called, and the first song set the pace with its walking rhythm that took the angry and bitter wanderer from the door of his former lover’s house. From there, the wanderer pushed on further and further into the cold and dark, and the music froze and wept and whirled like the bitter wind.”
Judith provided a beautiful AFTERWORD about her daughter’s life, and how her Schubert-framed writing was discovered posthumously on a computer that a friend acquired and downloaded.
“Natalie Jane Jacobs was a gifted writer from a very early age. She once confessed a special affinity “with Franz Schubert.”
“When she was eleven, she wrote a story about the composer as a young child trying myopically—she too was very nearsighted—to interact with his family and surroundings. Like him, although confident of her creative gifts, she was unsure of herself and hesitant to bring her writing to a wider audience.
“While writing was always very important to her, she did not intend it to be a career. Instead, she completed several years of midwifery training and planned to practice it.
“Natalie died suddenly of viral myocarditis in 2008 at age 35. After her death we gave her computer to a longtime friend in Portland, OR where Natalie had moved from her native Ann Arbor, MI. A short time later, her friend told us of a body of writing she had discovered on its hard disk. To our great surprise, Natalie had left the manuscripts of several short stories, a novella set in contemporary England, and a full-length historical novel about Schubert…”
(Excerpt From: Natalie Jacobs. “When Your Song Breaks the Silence.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/L_CiG.l)
Enriched by my friendship with Natalie’s parents, and having enjoyed the posthumous acquaintance of Natalie through her beloved writing, I can confidently recommend this dip into Schubert’s life, wrapped in unswerving love for the composer and his music.
Natalie’s mother’s artistic universe: