Everyone in Rangoon knew how desperately I was searching for a piano. This was 1952. Shortly after the war, there had been a great exchange of properties and one would find Steinways and Bechsteins in the strangest places. I tried them wherever I found them but all were useless: unplayable, with rusted strings and bloated felts. They were pianos in name only!
As a concert pianist who had come to Burma with my new husband (we were married only 3 months when he was offered an exciting assignment by the U.S. State Department. His job involved joining the AID program in planning and building the much desired and necessary pharmaceutical industry.
This newly formed independent, democratic State desired above all to produce their own medications. Before independence they had imported all from Switzerland or England.
In addition to helping build a pharmaceutical industry, my husband was also required to organize the...
“Tinga ling aling a ling a ling,” touted the insistent telephone early, early on a Sunday morning, awaking us from a deep sleep.
I was going to ignore it but I always feel there may be something special, an emergency, that I must not miss. So I answered. The voice at the other end was a little squeaky and said proudly, “Are you Charlotte White, the pianist? I am Florence Foster Jenkins, the famed soprano. I heard you in concert just the other day and I felt you might be perfect as my accompanist. I have been searching extensively for the right person but of all you are the most interesting. I’m giving a concert tonight at the Park Lane Hotel and I would like to invite you and then perhaps we can go upstairs to my apartment where I live and we can have a talk about what this work involves. Oh yes, by the way, if I should suddenly stop speaking, you’ll know I’m saving my voice so I don’t want to talk too much now. Will you come?”
We thought our members and friends might enjoy reading these reflections written by Charlotte White of some memorable experiences over the course of her varied and fascinating life spanning almost 103 years.