On my mother’s side of the family, my siblings and I come from a long line of musicians. My maternal great grandmother, Elizabeth Stevens Bakowska, an American of English descent, who was a Daughter of the American Revolution, was a pianist. Her daughter, Veronique Bakowska, was my grandmother. She, too, was a pianist who was classically trained at the Sorbonne. While in Paris studying music, she fell in love with and married one of her professors, Jean Paul Morel. Morel was best known as a conductor of the New York City Opera (1946-51) and later as Chief Conductor of French Repertoire (1956-71) of New York’s Metropolitan Opera. It is no wonder that the only child of Veronique and Jean Morel, my mother Veronica, was also a classical pianist.

Then came my generation. Though there was a piano in the house, my siblings and I followed one another into the rhythmic...

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