Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Priceless Books

Today while going through some boxes of books I was reminded of how blessed I am to have these music books.

The books that impress this on me the most are two oversized books that I used as an undergraduate student.

The Historical Anthology of Music, Volumes 1 and 2

These books have been taking up space and gathering dust for, well, about 30 years.


That is a long time to be in the way.


A few years ago while taking a graduate class my classmates and I decided to get our visiting professor from Hungary a token of our appreciation.

I gave money but did not have a part in choosing the gift.

If I had I would have tried to get my professor something else.

If I had I would have been so very wrong.


The last day of the course we had a luncheon.

We presented our teacher with the gift.

She eagerly opened the heavy package.

I couldn't imagine what it was so I was almost as eager as she.

I had to stifle a groan as I saw her pull out the two volumes of the anthology.

I thought to myself:


I gave money for those?!?!

I would have given her mine?!?!

Of course this was an inward conversation with myself.

I was not prepared for this stereotypical strong, stern Eastern European woman who, upon seeing the books, burst into tears.

Fearing we had offended her, a friend quickly said, "We can exchange it if it is not to your liking!"

She hugged the books to her chest and groaned tearfully, "No!"

When she had composed herself she explained to us that the only copies of these books in Hungary were in the Hungarian National Library and that if one wanted to use them a librarian with white gloves on sat next to you and turned the pages in the book. You were not allowed to actually touch the book.  They were so very rare and thus priceless.

We were all relieved she liked, no LOVED, the gift.

I was a bit humbled that I had thought so little of the books - until I heard her story.

Today, as I unpacked those two books I was so very proud to place them on the shelf.

So very proud to own my own copies.

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