Richard Ozanne-St Charles 1959/St Louis (Born May 20th)
Remembering the months after I was born in St. Charles/St. Louis. It is almost a surreal dream to go back in my mind to the very house..or the very yard and remember in quite beautiful but fuzzy detail the sort of arrangements we lived in. My parents were both professors of music and this, during its day was quite a different life than most children had fallen into. The music was surrounding me almost from birth. Patricia Benkman, my mother was of such a deliberate musician that she was back on stage in a solo events soon after my birth- how soon, my mother used to say it was a week. And it was a week before my birth that she had played her last concert- I was born on May 20th 1959, and less than one month both my parents were at Chautauqua teaching on their rigorous schedules. A former landlady, who was retired, offered to take care of me during the summers at Chautauqua...A Mrs. Marie Painter. Every summer until 1976 she returned to Chautauqua to help my parents with the chores of taking care of me, and later just the essentials of cooking meals. As a child she was an interesting influence. Mrs. Painter was a very staunch religious woman who had a dynamic facility with the raising of children in a rather Victorian way. She was also interested in my education and was rather a vital taskmaster when it came to academics, and especially reading, since she had suffered a rather cold education, (typical of the early 20th century, per-depression era where industrial labor and farm work were pushed way ahead of school interests) and wished to see more from the youth of the day.
Of course travels of my parents were constant during my childhood. One can say even as a baby our family was on the road-by car or by airplane. It seemed every couple of months there was a new destination..and of course the summers at Chautauqua where the family would pack the station wagon and boxes of music and head out for the venture to upstate New York, usually in mid June. This was a tour across the country from wherever we lived...
After the summer session 1959 my father and mother were on their way to Boston where my father performed and went on tour with the Boston Pops orchestra. His early recording, one of several that were made...with RCA first titled in a ”Nothing but the Beer”Compilation..Three Concert Gems- Franz Liszt Hungarian Fantasy with the Boston Pops Arthur Fiedler. He played that particular piece on tour with the Liszt Concerto #1 E Flat and Spanish Rhapsody of Busoni (Orchestra Version) practicing diligently a full 6-7 hours a day...seemingly endlessly and going for a week of tour and returning home to resume teaching at Lindenwood College in St Charles. Our house was filled with music. Of course my mother would practice and give lessons at home when not heading off for her duties teaching..Evenings they would work two pianos my mother giving all the readings for my father on second piano of whatever concerto was to be next on the roster of performances, concertos for orchestra that may have been scheduled. Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn,Liszt, Beethoven, Chopin, Kabalevsky, Brahms 1st and 2nd Concertos, Prokofiev 1st 2nd and 3rd, Gershwin- all were practiced and played during the memories of my youth as well as the endless roster of many other pieces that I as a mere fledgeling in this world would absorb and remember in the background through my years.
In early 1960 my parents as well myself were traveling on the across to London and then Amsterdam Europe where my father continued on to concertize and record. I have brief memories of the great Constellation-an transoceanic airliner that spun its way onto the tarmac and the letters KLM , as well as a very concerned stewardess who took me into her arms and cared for me on the way across. What memories could I have at that age. Perhaps only Dutch being spoken..I remember my father walking away, my mother concerned as he was continuing on to the USSR-Russia in a brief interlude to meet Kabalevsky and discuss new revisions of his piano concerto #2 which he had played on continuing concert tours with the Boston Pops.
That year and the following year our family traveled rather extensively, of course as a child I was given equal attention by both parents, and rarely-rarely being cared for by any other person or baby sitter even on tours-my parents would switch and equally take on the duties of taking care of me. In late 1959 and 1960 we eventually made our residence in San Francisco CA with a new post for my mother at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Of course my memories were reinforced via many hours of 8mm my father took of his travels and performances.. At one point-I was held up to the piano and hands placed on the keys...There was a simple question whether this child was going to follow in his parents footsteps and be a pianist or musician, a laymen, or doctor. Several old newspaper articles were interested in my parents choices. Family matters in the late 1950's seemed to be the focus of many reviews and special interest stories of the news. My parents were both in the limelight often. It seemed that there was no end to the news paper articles from that era. Our family also made the papers and news on many occasion-examples still exist of almost “paparazzi' inquiries in the news of the day. The face that I was mentioned in some of them..sometimes was disconcerting, after all the story of Lindbergh was still on the minds of many in the day....to keep a low profile. Of course times were changing slowly and the news, which once concentrated a great deal on the arts and the personalities were beginning to trim back through the 1960's and 70's..to the rather obscure stories of the arts and artists in the 1990's and beyond. Times do change but this was a special time, and a special childhood being around serious music, particular music and great performers. It was the conclusion of my parents before I was born to have a well-rounded child and have he or she discover for themselves the world in which they partake.
All I can remember is being surrounded by music..and this was one gift as I child I could not forget easily.
Of course these early days I can just sketch out with brief memories....
The memories of an “Iron Horse” (a iron pole -statue that was near Lindenwood), and being fully conscious to the music that was being played at that time were my first actual memories, as well as being cared for by my parents in a very unique way.
During this time I recollect a great deal of travel. My father had just made travels to Russia (a brief experience) but commentary for the Kabalevsky Piano Concerto #2 revisions that were made with Arthur Fiedler in Boston during the tour- 1959/60.
Memories of London-Amsterdam, scarcely a child--