WITH ALL MY LOVE
CATHY BERBERIAN (1925-1983)
describes her life with music
I fell down the long rabbit hole into the wonderland of music when I
was about seven years old. I came across a pile of '78' records in an unused
Victrola (how's that for a dated word?) and I remember first and foremost
the voice of Tito Schipa singing the Cavatina from The Barber of Seville,
and I was hooked! From then on music meant mostly singing, and at first
mostly Opera. At around the same time, I secretly vowed to be a singer.
Music was the only world to which I could escape from the banality of
a lower middle-class existence. In the privacy of my room, I could be an
African princess, or a fiery gypsy, or a courtesan with a heart of gold
(don't tell my mum!).
Later, when I began to sing along with the Opera stars, it was my chance
to express those blurred, but primordial feelings I had bottled-up inside
a thin, nondescript physique.
Little by little, music gave me an identity -- all mine -- not just somebody's
daughter, sister or niece. Music gave me a profession. It brought me a great
love and, when it ended, it filled the void with an incentive to live more
fully as a person, not an appendix. It liberated me as a woman, it forged
my independence of mind and spirit. Music stimulated my creativity and gave
me a sense of confidence and inner serenity.
Music is the air I breathe and the planet I inhabit. The only way I can
pay my debt to music is by bringing it to others, with all my love.
Copyright © 1983 Cathy Berberian
(reprinted with permission)