Today I helped bury Reinhold Wladyslaw Bezinski, the man who saved me from becoming an embittered, second-rate French horn player, I once thought telling this story would pay my debt to him. Fifteen years have passed since our brief weeks of lessons, but only today, in a sunny, cool cemetery in the Bronx, did I fully realize that I will never be done with him.

  Bezinski didn’t know how deep lay the roots of my musical malady. It wasn’t decided I’d be a musician, but always assumed. My grandparents were borne to this country from Ukrainian ghettoes on money wrung from fiddles and keyboards by desperate, precocious fingers. There were two famous virtuosi and several distinguished professionals. The greatest was Sasha, a grand artist of his generation; he died before my birth but lived vividly through my mother. We listened to his records together, and she tirelessly told me how brilliant, sensitive, handsome, rich... I think I always sensed that he had been her first, perhaps her deepest love. Handsome?

I examined the photos; Sasha alone, with Serkin, Bing Crosby, Einstein. They showed a rather short, slender, balding man with a sensual little mouth and haunted eyes. The brow domed mysteriously high, the eyes were deep-set but light—not blue, like mine, said mother, but almost violet. My father shrugged, wisecracked about “the underslung violinist.” The photo did show short legs and lordosis. My father knew the enemy when he saw him. He was in watch parts, wholesale.