Like the hundreds of other people who had gathered at Saint Pius V Church for Dan Horkheimerâ€™s funeral last August, I was moving between despair and disbelief in trying to assimilate the fact of his murder. As I walked into the church, I saw at a distance a familiar faceâ€”Cece Weinkauff, who was playing violin before the Mass. Eleven and a half years earlier when she was 14, Cece played Massenetâ€™s Meditation at Mevâ€™s funeral in the Saint Francis Xavier College Church.
A few weeks later, she and I visited at Kayakâ€™s on Skinker. She enthusiastically recommended a favorite book of hers by Arnold Steinhardt, Violin Dreams. This captivating memoir details his quest for the perfect violin, the making of a world-class violinist, the musings of this servant to J. S. Bachâ€™s Chaconne, the routines and rituals of the man who carried photos of the greats in his violin case to remind him of the nobility of his calling (like Heifetz). Thereâ€™s so much in the book he doesnâ€™t address, as it evidently isnâ€™t relevant to his dream life, his real life, that is, his immersion in violins, their power, pedigrees, â€œpersonalities,â€ and magic.
I came away with a radiant and despairing sense of how much great music there remains to be discovered, explored, and savored! (How blessed Cece is to be able to playâ€”day in and day outâ€”such works!) Among the following to listen to again or buy or download: Bachâ€™s six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, Bartokâ€™s First Rhapsody, Beethovenâ€™s Violin Concerto, Wieniawskiâ€™s Scherzo Tarantella, Ernest Blochâ€™s Baal Shem Suite, Paganiniâ€™s Caprices, Tartiniâ€™s Devilâ€™s Trill Sonata, Mozartâ€™s Divertimento in B Flat, Mozartâ€™s G Minor two-viola quintet, Schubertâ€™s two cello quintet, the song cycles of Schubert and Schumann, Mendelssohnâ€™s octet, and Schubertâ€™s Death and the Maiden, among others.
Bach is a most potent presence in Steinhardtâ€™s memoir, as revealed in the following passages:
I would realize that Bach had actually provided me with a splendid example of improvisation on the movementâ€™s skeletal frameâ€”a collection of scales, arpeggios, fanciful turns, discreet pauses, and a final little cadenza that any decent Baroque fiddler would have been expected to summon up on the spot but that most modern violinists would not or could not. 
My parents had not raised my brother and me with any sense of religion. When I first heard Elman at age eleven, I doubt that I had ever been in a place of worship, and yet that is exactly what the D major section evoked then and nowâ€”a private sanctuary where I could commune with the unknown and unnamed. 
I also hoped that the Chaconne would stay with me as a companion, a point of orientation, and a source of bedrock wisdom. 
Perhaps Bach was a stand-in for the rabbi or protest I never hadâ€”a prophet whose music moved me deeply but seemed nonetheless just beyond my grasp. 
Bach remained a stubborn constant in my life. If I succeeded in playing the sonatas and partitas flawlessly, my technique in general would inevitably improve. If I began to grasp their overall design, my horizons for all music would broaden. 
Bachâ€™s music could be devout, intellectual, complex, but also imaginative, playful, melancholy, daring. 
To me the Chaconne is one of the most beautiful, incredible compositions. On one staff, and for a small instrument, this man pours out a world full of the most profound thoughts and powerful emotion. 
Was it far-fetched to think that Bach, a devout Christian, might have offered the Chaconne as an expression of the Holy Trinity, its bedrock spiritual principle? 
Enough writing! Time to goâ€¦ and listen.