Courage at Twilight: Reading with Villa-Lobos

Dad’s hobby is reading.  He is the smartest man I know, reading biography, theology, philosophy, history, fiction, science, etc.  He indulges his hobby from 10:30 p.m. until at least 2:00 a.m., every night.  One night’s literary fare may be the Book of Mormon, the Bible, or other scripture.  Another night may be The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency novels or Rumpole of the Bailey stories.  Often he reads the World Book Encyclopedia, the next day telling me everything he learned during the night.  Did you know nectarines spontaneously appeared on a peach tree in China over two millennia ago?  Other days he reads books his children gave him for his birthday or Christmas, when book gifts are a sure thing.  During those late-night reading hours, Dad listens to the music of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, particularly his Bachianas Brasileiras (my translation: Brazilian musical pieces after the manner of Johann Sebastian Bach).  Having been a missionary, post-graduate student, minister, and international lawyer in Brazil, he loves Brazilian music.  And he loves the Brazilian people.  In 1971, while finishing the sweat equity on the new Baker house in New Jersey, a cassette tape of the Bachianas kept him company.  At a particular point in Bachiana No. 7, an electrifying sensation suddenly swept through him, a visit from a spiritual plane, and he knew somehow that he would be asked the following year to take his family to Brazil to oversee the Church’s missionary work.  The impression came to pass, and our little family went to Brazil for three years— I was eight years old.  I, too, love the Brazilian people, and the food, and the language, and the music.  Villa-Lobos—what a cool-sounding name—and it has a fun meaning as well: city of wolves.  Heitor City of Wolves.  Bachiana No. 7—at counter 16:55 in the Tocata/Desafio.  World Book Encyclopedia: N for Nectarine.  Two a.m. and all is well.

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