Image from Albert Innaurato’s fantastical blog “Mrs. John Claggart’s Sad Life”

I wept when I heard the news. Albert… I had such affection for him, his generosity of spirit in sharing all that he knew about practically everything in the world, was rarely matched by anyone I have ever known, ever. 

But music! Music! He knew about it pretty much more than anyone I have ever read or known. He loved it, lived it, understood it, and made others understand it. It wasn’t just his great, genius, and deep musical sense you understood that he had, but his psychological grasp of the meanings, intents and purposes of even the most obscure compositions I don’t think many could equal within hailing distance of the level he did. His insights were beyond and above – again – than practically anyone I have ever known.

I first got acquainted with him through an opera discussion group, and I read all of his contributions, enthralled, thrilled, and captivated. Often, what he wrote put me into this odd state of being deep in thought: he made you think on whatever he had written. Always there were revelations, providing me with new, and lasting impressions on many things I had never considered before. Brilliant, brilliant man, and that word hardly suffices.

I began exchanging e mails with him. Mostly, to praise him. Some questions, which he always answered, wonderfully detailed. Always so kind to me, grateful I took the time to write to him. Offered me some advice from time to time; he understood too, the human condition.

All too well!

Albert was a tormented soul, one of those supreme geniuses who grasped everything perhaps too well, and found life difficult. He knew too well the pain of it. But it gave him that beautiful depth of knowledge. Yet I longed for him to have peace.

His public skirmishes and feuds were well-known. He was often difficult, and could be hurtful and insulting. But you see, a lot of the geniuses throughout the ages had a difficult time in life, and were dissonant figures in society as a whole. They had dimensions and complexities unknown to the average person. Different ways of seeing things, different ways of thinking. Complacency, sweeping pronouncements and mediocrity of thought enraged him; and he was easily hurt. No one felt more deeply than he did. No one cared about things that were beautiful, and sacred – art – than he did.

He created at times a great deal of enmity and downright hostility in online discussions. I never once joined in on these feuds. I cringed at what transpired, but I did not get involved.  I regarded Albert as one of those kind of people you felt privileged to be privy to the kind of mind and insights he had. What he had to say was so much more valuable than the behaviors he exhibited from time to time. That is how it is with geniuses like him; something so exalting and out of this world he had in him, you didn’t want to miss anything he offered. Others chose to see the ugly, that’s their prerogative; I only saw the beauty of Albert.

He was sort of the Brando of music.

Other thoughts of him: the wickedest, most wonderfully salacious wit. The most colorful invective. Incapable of a dull, commonplace statement or thought. Disallowing of generalizations, fanatical hagiography, and the “common,” accepted, universal overviews; and when he explained why he dissented, he was often right. Eerie, bulls-eye observations on anything. Despite his cynicism and wariness, he could, I sensed, weep at things that were truly pure at heart, because in the center of his being, I think that is really what he had. No one who could love music as much as he did could be without purity of heart.

Rest in peace, dear Albert. Thank you for all that I learned from you, your kindnesses to me, and for allowing me to know you, and most of all, for influencing me in so many profound ways.