According to her father, her mother had chosen the name Sumire. She loved the Mozart song of the same name and had decided long before that if she had a daughter that would be her name. On a shelf in their living room was a record of Mozart’s songs, doubtless the one her mother had listened to, and when she was a child, Sumire would carefully lay this heavy LP on the turntable and listen to the song over and over. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was the soprano, Walter Gieseking on piano. Sumire didn’t understand the lyrics, but from the graceful motif she felt sure the song was a paean to beautiful violets blooming in a field. Sumire loved that image.
In junior high, though, she ran across a Japanese translation of the song in her school library and was shocked. The lyrics told of a callous shepherd’s daugther trampling down a hapless little violet in a field. The girl didn’t even notice she’d flattened the flower. It was based on a Goethe poem, and Sumire found nothing redeeming about it, no lesson to be learned.
—Haruki Murakami
(from Sputnik Sweetheart)

“Das Veilchen,” K.476
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano
Walter Gieseking, piano

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