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May 9, 2010

A musical bouquet of roses for Mother's Day

I couldn’t let Mother’s Day pass without some appropriate music.

Instead of finding a song with “mother” in it, I started thinking about flowers, since they're such a part of the day -- and which I sure hope someone else got for my mother, ‘cause Robert and I are only bearing food when we head down to Northern Virginia to spend the day with her and the rest of the small clan at Chez Smith. And, since my mother’s given name happens to be Rose, that got me to thinking about one of the loveliest of all ballads, “Roses of Picardy.”

I’ve had a soft spot for sentimental tunes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries since I was a teen – go figure – and I still find them impossible to resist, at least when sensitively sung. And I think “Roses of Picardy” represents a perfect fusion of words and melody. These lines seem particularly appropriate today:

Roses are shining in Picardy

In the hush of the silvery dew,

Roses are flow'ring in Picardy,

But there's never a rose like you.

Here, then, a bouquet of sonic roses for my mother -- there's never been a Rose like her -- and for all treasured mothers on this day. To deliver this bouquet, I chose the exquisite voice of Richard Tauber, who gives this song a particularly eloquent touch:

Posted by Tim Smith at 7:41 AM | | Comments (0)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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