Giuoco delle coppie Garby Leon

game of the pairs
I'm pretty accustomed to writing small stuff over the passing of friends and family.  The older one gets, the more the opportunity presents itself.  It helps me get through deaths and losses so don't expect any great "The sun, for sorrowwill not show his head. Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things" type of thing.   

Hubert Francis "Garby" Leon died the other day.  He was about 67 and had a fairly remarkable life and career. More so, he had friends.  Some are pretty smart and talented folks and others not so much.  I don't think that mattered to him.  A grand trait.  More on that later.

Fifty odd years ago, there was a batch of recordings of Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra.  It was the rage. Garby had a phonograph in his room and we would listen to it.  I didn't know Bartok from Adam at the time. He did; mostly through piano pieces but he had the score to this one and I had the opportunity to learn it and we talked about it for long stretches over board games of Gettysburg.

Wasington School - the playground was on the other side
We lived in a small town in Michigan.  At the time, we attended Washington Intermediate.  The school had
just a couple rooms each for grades 5-8. Pairs. Our band (he played oboe) numbered perhaps 45 players 16 of whom went on to be professional musicians, music teachers and performers. He wasn't much of an oboist but everyone recognized him as being a good person, very bright, and with a musical bag of tricks...well...a really deep bag.  I envied his potential with all that talent.  My mother loved him because we were "safe" together.

I put up a jpeg of the first page of the second movement of the Bartok work because, in my mind, that is him in a nutshell.  The drum introduction - certainly a different drummer played in his mind - and to the point "Giuoco delle coppie" of the pairs.

I looked at the comments on Garby's Facebook page and tracked out those who posted after learning of his death.  They are an assorted lot of musicians, film industry folks, friends from his various colleges, roommates, and an occasional "not-assigned". But, you see that was his "game of the pairs".  He paired with all comers.  He danced with everyone and found a purchase no matter. His was the same tune with different instruments.

See you soon my friend.  Wait up.


  1. Thank you for "friending" me, Harold House. The photo of the old Washington school is great. I remember kindergarten through 2nd there and the day everyone left that big old crickety school with its high ceilings and time-stained rooms, and we walked over to the new Jefferson school. That kindergarten room, and teacher, were the same for my father.

    Your writing, above, is fine. You got him. Nice to know those extra moments of his life. The Bartok. Thank you.



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