Berceuse from Jocelyn is part of an opera in four acts that was composed by Benjamin Godard (1849-1895). It was first performed on February 25, 1888 in Brussels, Belgium.

It begins with two musical notes slowly played on the piano.

I took my small, thin, young fingers and thoughtfully hit those two piano keys. I fell in love with the beauty and simplicity of the piece.

Four half notes in one measure. Then several eighth notes in the second. Nothing difficult. Nothing showy. The other piano students picked the fast, attention-grabbing pieces for the recital.

I sat at the piano in front of the hundred-plus people seated in the auditorium. They varied in age from two years to ninety-two. The crowd was silent except for the star pupil seated in the first row.

I heard him ask the guy next to him.

  “Which song is that?” Was he possibly grabbed by the two beginning notes as I was? Was there someone else that appreciated the beauty and the simplicity of Berceuse?

Prior to the recital, Mrs. Francesca encouraged me to play the piece faster. We worked on the piece for weeks.

When it was time for the recital, I played the song as I felt it – slowly. All of my squelching emotions were wrapped in that music. My hand position was thoughtful. My posture. The volume at the beginning and at the end. It had all been practiced over and over.

The better pianists began the recital. The fast-paced “Spinning Song” was at the beginning. The student did not miss a note. This was the time their parents could sit in the audience and glow at their child’s talents and hard work, not to mention their own sacrifice of money which was hard to come by for most of the lower middle-class families who lived in El Paso.

I was listed in the program, not at the end or the beginning but in the middle. I saved that recital program for decades – a piece of paper with my name next to Berceuse from Jocelyn.

I shared my naked soul with the audience that evening. When I was finished, I quietly sat next to my parents. It was only one of a handful of times the three of us sat in public together.

The crowd was hushed as the next musician prepared for his song.

The quiet was broken by my father’s voice, “Why didn’t you pick a better piece?! Why that one?!”

Berceuse from Jocelyn held all of my emotions, the fears, the failures, the trips to Big Springs to pick up my mother from the mental hospital multiple times. It held all of my anxiety and stress of growing up with trauma.

The silence was broken.

The feelings were shared without one…… single….. word……. being uttered.

Slow down a bit today and listen to the beautiful music.


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