I spent a happy hour or three last summer having drinks in London with the finest American music critic of my time, the infinitely engaging Tim Page. Tim is, of course, so much more than a music critic. He’s the leading authority on the novelist Dawn Powell, a movie polymath, a professor at USC and a brilliantly astute observer of the human condition. We had a whale of a time.
A few weeks after our conversation, Tim was found lying senseless on a Connecticut railway platform.
He was rushed to hospital, underwent brain surgery and has battled valiantly ever since to recover his physical and mental equilibrium. Friends could only watch in admiration as he put his life and mind back together again.
Now Tim has written an essay on his year of recovery. It is essential reading.
Music still astounds and renews me, although it demands more solitary concentration than ever before and I can no longer “swim” in it as I did from earliest childhood. But I’ve found a new therapy: part of each day is spent listening to complicated pieces that I know fairly well but not too well – large amounts of Bach, Beethoven’s “Diabelli” Variations and late quartets, symphonies by Mahler and Bruckner, “Die Meistersinger” — and I concentrate deeply, often with my eyes shut. Well-known, technically “simple” works bring pleasure but don’t seem to be furrowing the same neural paths that I sense from more extended challenges. Such exploration takes me back to my childhood, and the wonder I used to feel when wandering the woods around the University of Connecticut, pushing aside the branches of budding trees, finding out what paths led to what streets and, eventually, which one of those streets would lead me home.
Read on here.