My Tante Hanny’s book is one of my most treasured gifts. She was my Dad’s father’s older sister. In her book, My Heritage is Yours, she mentioned my birth:
“On December 16, 1975, Lisa Marie Verkley was born to John and Anne Marie. She was the first grandchild of Peter and Gesina, and that happy event made Mother a great-grandmother! On Beethoven’s birthday. May she have a happy life!”
I always thought it was peculiar that someone would know what day Beethoven was born on. Then over the years, I’ve learned more about what Beethoven meant to my family.
In my Tante Hanny’s book, she wrote about music in her life as a child:
“I loved so much to hear my Father playing the piano. When I was in bed at night and he played, I always had my ear clear out of the blankets so as not to miss a note! I listened to the waltzes of Brahms, Liszt’s Second Rhapsody, Bach, Sonates of Mozart, not to forget Beethoven, all the sonatas. Four hands if there were more players. He made my world rich, more than money could do. I loved my Dad. I felt the same as he did. However, I was not half as talented as he was. We sang the lieder of Schuman and Schubert together. Often he was practicing for the organ. The toccata of Dubois. The organ concert of Alec Guilmant, the organ concerto of Widor, and so many more. Never will I forget the sonate Opus 109 from Beethoven. That was his favorite and mine. It was quite difficult to play, but it sounded like flowing water when he did it. This sonata was dedicated by Beehoven to Maximiliane von Brentano with the words, and I quote,” A dedication! This is not one like those that are misused in great numbers, it is the spirit which holds noble and good people together on this earth and which time cannot destroy.” Forty years later I found the record and bought it. When I play the record I close my eyes and see my Father playing the sonata and drink in the music.”
The Verkley family farm in Holland is called Brentano. How neat is that!
Anyway, I told Dad about this piece being a favourite of his aunt’s and grandfather’s a few years back. I thought I should mention it here too for the rest of the family.
Here is the matching piece, as far as I can tell. The second part is my favourite.
If I’ve navigated our family photos correctly, here’s a picture of my great-grandfather playing music:
My Grandfather is in the back, on the left.