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Classical Notes

Classical Notes: April 20, 2007 Archive

Life's too short not to live it elegantly

Posted at 12:46 PM on April 20, 2007 by Alison Young

You know when your friends offer the advice "Life's too short?" It's usually followed by "Don't sweat the small stuff," or "Let it go and move on," or "Follow your bliss!" For one concert pianist in Australia, time really is running out. 30-year old Aaron McMillan has brain cancer, and is doing all he can to use his remaining time to assemble his past 12 years of concertizing into a 9-CD collection. Aaron can’t get out of bed now, so his hospice room has become a literal production office.

His amazing story illustrates the sheer perseverance of the human spirit. Reading it, for me, is like the exercise of writing your own epitaph. What do you want to be remembered for? What really matters to you? What would you do if these were the last months, weeks, days of your life?

Aaron McMillan doesn't talk about the inevitable and instead is using his time to compose a piano concerto “in the style of Schubert," who died at 31 without having written one. I am particularly moved by Aaron's words of a few years back, words that echo Victor Frankl and some of the great minds in human psychology: "I want to find elegant ways through everything."

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