Some of the Dear Readers of These Pages may recall Adonis and his obsession with harpsichords. Anytime he heard a harpsichord-- whether in a symphony or on a CD-- he would grow very, very still and then the questions would start:
What is that mechanical sound?
What is making that tinkling?
What is that sound like a music box?
And finally-- as luck would have it, Japan's most famous harpsichordist, the great Masaaki Suzuki came and gave a performance in Tochigi. A solo performance, it was an intimate-- salon style-- concert with only about 50 seats available. While among the most child-friendly people in the world, still the other concert goers did raise a few eyebrows as 6 year old Adonis marched in and took a seat in the very front-- right smack in the center!
He was absolutely entranced.
During the performance he did his usual conducting and half way through the Maestro kept looking over and smiling and winking at the Kid as the Maestro played Bach (and the kid conducted Bach). Almost more than the music, Adonis was fascinated by the tuning of the instrument and an elaborate tuning operation was conducted not once, but twice by a man with a very long red necktie and a huge toolbox. Both times, Adonis would leap to his feet and race up on the stage and poke his little nose right up there by the tools until the man with the ridiculously long necktie had to wave him back.
This all, of course, started a music box obsession-- since to his ears, the harpsichord and the sound of a music box were connected.
Many might be aware that Japan is one of the world's great music box-loving countries. The sound of music box music can be heard in famous movies, in department stores and doctor's offices-- and I cannot even count how many small music box museums are located here. And Sankyo is a world-leader in the production of the devices.
This was exactly a year ago, when a few weeks after the harpsichord concert , we were off to a department store in search of a new game cartridge for his Nintendo DS when right off the escalator he spotted a Mashiko-yaki exhibition with a windmill, which on careful inspection contained a musicbox. The nintendo game completely forgotten he said, "please, can I have it?" and carrying it home, he would put it by his futon every night so that first thing in the morning-- as soon as he opened his eyes-- he could listen to its song.
This is the thing with kids... If not for Adonis and his peculiar predilections, I might never have given music boxes a second thought. It's true when I was about 10, we were up in Solvang-- the little Dutch town north of Santa Barbara, which is famous for its music box shops and I saw a music box that so captured my heart-- and just like Kazuya, I pleaded to anyone within earshot: "please!" Luckily, my Grandmother was there with us and must have sensed how desparately I wanted it: a lacquer music box with orange bamboo.
Anway... I had almost completely forgotten the way a music box can cause such delight.
Mine was just a little 18 note music box hidden in a jewelry box.... just like Adonis' in his windmill.
Not even a month after he had gotten his windmill, we were back in Los Angeles and when his Grammy asked him what he wanted for his birthday, he stunned her by announcing that he wanted a music box where you could see the music box movements.
And so we headed to Solvang again-- 30 years later.
It was a different shop but the Kid made a beeline for this.
Poor Grammy....she asked, "isn't it a bit much? A $390 music box for a 7 year old?"
And, he looked so heart-broken when I told him he was too young for something so nice. (Unfair since he takes such good care of everything he has)... But still...
Luckily, another music box that played his favorite fur elise and had a California sea turtle on the box case caught his little eagle eye, and we were off the hook.
Adonis adores his music boxes and he constantly is at his desk winding them up and listening to them. He has probably all but forgotten the charming little piano music box. But, isn't it funny how I cannot seem to get it out of my mind. As his birthday is rolling around again, I thought I'd poke around the Japanese auction sights and lo and behold. Only in Japan! I found it for sale in 5 minutes. In perfect condition for an affordable price. And now it is mine.... I wonder if I will be able to contain myself till his birthday?
I personally am holding out for this one with 75 notes. And for ultimate music box bliss, this: the world's first 100 note music box played on two combs. To be delighted.
For more, see Adonis and the Harpsichord.