Thursday, September 15, 2011

"A Wagner Matinee" by Willa Cather

Source: McDougal Littell Literature, Grade 11 (mp3)
Length: 20 min
Reader: Unlisted

The story: When I first moved to a city for college, I knew I'd never go back to living in a suburb. All around me were art galleries, coffee shops, neighborhood bars, funky stores that sold things I had never seen and restaurants that didn't serve photocopied meals from corporate headquarters. Best of all was the music, not the recorded stuff that passes out of radios, but real live music played by people I could see and touch. I don't go to concerts as much as I did as a student, but I still try to make it to a few concerts every year, be it rock, blues, classical, or choral.

In this story, Willa Cather takes a break from her usual setting of the plains of Nebraska to tell of an old farm wife who visits her nephew in Boston. Knowing that she was once an accomplished musician in Boston, the nephew takes her to the Boston Opera House for a Wagner performance. Cather's description of the aunt's reaction to the music shows the author's great empathy for her characters and understanding of humanity. This is a great short piece about the power of live music and the pain of choices that change our lives forever.

Rating: 7 / 10

The reader: This is a professionally produced recording and narrator, though I can't seem to find the reader's name on the website. The source is from McDougal Littell's webpage for users of its high school literature textbooks, but the audio files are available to the public. There's lots of great stories listed on the page, but most are short summaries with only a few being full-length readings of the stories or poems.

4 comments:

mel u said...

I want to try a Cather Short story soon-maybe this would be a good one-it sounds very interesting

CHE said...

I've never read anything by Willa Cather. This does seem like a good place to start.
Glad to find your blog through Bread Crumb Reads. Happily following you now.

Nan said...

I've had a hard time reading her books, perhaps because of the setting. I found this online, and will read it. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I didnt really understand te story when i first read it and now it makes perfect sense