The performance of The Short Life of Barbara Monk is being dedicated tonight to the Monk family and Dr. Julia Sutton. My dream world focuses on my two favorite musical instruments – the voice and orchestra. And on the black and white visual images of classic film noir. Thelonious Monk is an exception.
I met Barbara Monk, her father, mother, and brother in the early winter of 1960 during a snowstorm. A week later they visited me and my 89-year-old landlady in my New York apartment, which was close to the Apollo Theater, The Church of Sweet Daddy Grace, and Columbia University. I vividly remember the way she and her brother slid down our banisters at the 113th St. apartment where I rented a room. I saw Barbara rather often and then she disappeared from my life when she got a scholarship to attend Windsor Mountain School in the Berkshires. And I felt like I was watching the movie Portrait of Jenny (1948) where the Jennifer Jones figure always becomes a few years older every few weeks.
When I saw Barbara Monk in the late ’60s for a Thanksgiving dinner she was just entering her adolescent phase. And when I moved to the Conservatory she entered adulthood. Her big goal during that period was to get a street named after her father, which did happen upon her death at age 28 — W 63rd Street. Her family and his loyal Kathleen Annie Pannonica de Koenigswarter Rothschild were deeply affected.
The paths of Julia Sutton and Barbara Monk probably did not mingle, at least not on this earth. Both loved the world of dance. Julia would always stay at a very proper tempo when she graced Brown Hall for the many years she taught here; Barbara never kept an even tempo, even during her disco phase. Tonight I will try to stretch both of their worlds and commonality.
So many people on our wonderful faculty have shared many more intimate moments with Julia Sutton. I remember her graceful walk down a west Roxbury neighborhood and the brilliant, strict, but compassionate charm that she displayed at the New England Conservatory. And, best of all, we are blessed with faculty that she brought, such as Anne Hallmark, Peter Row, Greg Smith, and Bob Labaree.
“We’re waltzing in the wonder of why we’re here
Time hurries by, we’re here and we’re gone.”