Newsletter #2: How I rediscovered my great grandfather’s long lost opera

Posted on

I wanted to give you an update on my odd little project– bringing my great grandfather’s long lost opera to life. Last month I sent an email about how I’m just starting this journey. I was overwhelmed by the number of people who emailed me back to wish me good luck, and by the people who liked the little Facebook page that I set up for the project.

One question that people asked me over and over again was: How did you learn that your great grandfather left behind this old opera manuscript to begin with?

It’s a great question, so I thought for this month’s email update, I’d share the story with you. Not long ago, my mom called me and said she found something I needed to see. “Go to Google” she told me, “And type in your great grandfather’s name.”

Whoa. My great grandpa is on the Internet. Or at least his music is.

It turns out, there are a bunch of videos of people performing a song that my great grandfather wrote for the marimba. Nobody in my family had ever heard his music before– we thought none of it was ever recorded. But there it was, on YouTube!

If you’d like to hear that song, “Bolero,” check out this video, where it is performed by a group of high school percussion students. Crazy, right? And there’s tons of videos just like that one.

That’s the discovery that got the ball rolling. We wondered: if one of his songs was apparently good enough to still be performed a century after he wrote it, what is the rest of his music like? What if we brought some of that to life?

And that led us to a box in my aunt’s basement that held a faded opera manuscript.

Next month, I’ll share some more of this journey with you, including the steps we’ve been taking to finally bring this opera to life, albeit 80 years late. I think you’ll really get a kick out of it.

Until then, if you want, you can follow the Facebook page I’ve set up for this project. I just posted two neat old photos that we discovered hidden away in dusty boxes.

Arlen