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Kathleen Battle
Childhood Music

My earliest memories of music are of my grandmother singing “Once in Royal David City,” as she drove me the half-hour from our house to her apartment, and of listening to my mother’s classical record colllection. The minute I took ballet, my friends and I played her 33-rpm recording of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” and “Nutcracker Suite,” and performed in our dining room, where the table was kept to the side. We marched to clear red plastic 45-rpm recordings of John Philip Sousa and sang endlessly Gilbert and Sullivan’s “I’m Called Little Buttercup” from records with pictures printed on them. I learned the Morse code for...

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