Early piano (perhaps played in the time of Schumann or Grieg), photo by Sally Buffington


Welcoming Joan Behrens-Bergman

Persimmon Tree welcomes as Guest Music Editor Joan Behrens-Bergman, a multitalented musician, administrator, teacher, and aficionado of the visual arts. A celebrated pianist from age 14, Behrens-Bergman has long been steeped in the world of musical performance. She has brought her rich and varied experience, expertise, and deep appreciation for the musical arts to this issue of Persimmon Tree, presenting to our readers a selection of superb performances, enhanced by her telling commentary.



Early piano (perhaps played in the time of Schumann or Grieg), photo by Sally Buffington



Our Guest Editor’s Music Picks


Helene Grimaud

Former model, brilliant musician, and passionate animal lover describe and define only one woman—the lovely Helene Grimaud. A gifted pianist with a successful performing career, she founded the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York, and currently divides her time between the two commitments.

Born in Aix-en-Provence, France, Grimaud received her music education at the Conservatoire de Paris. I have selected her recording of the “Piano Concerto in A minor” by Robert Schumann because the performance offers definitive Grimaud. The work, completed in 1845 and the composer’s only piano concerto, is an ideal musical canvas for Grimaud’s intensity, poetic sensitivity to dynamic color, and subtle nuance.

Robert Schumann “Piano Concerto in A minor” with soloist Helene Grimaud and conductor Thomas Hengelbrock, NDR Klassik





Marilyn Horne

Equally at home on the concert stage singing the early American folk song “Beautiful Dreamer” by nineteeth-century composer Stephen Foster and in the world of opera as Adalgisa in Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma (1831), the great American mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne hails from Bradford, Pennsylvania. Her distinctive, rich, and creamy voice glows in the Foster, and the technical demands of the operatic literature are easily met by her remarkable vocal facility in the Bellini. She is well known for her interpretation of Adalgisa in performance with soprano Joan Sutherland in the opera’s title role.

Marilyn Horne sings Beautiful Dreamer (



Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne “Mira, o Norma” from Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma





Julia Fischer

The extraordinary Julia Fischer was born in Munich, Germany, in 1983. A rare musician who is equally gifted as a violinist and pianist, she is a remarkably versatile virtuoso on both instruments. She began her music education at the Leopold Mozart Conservatory in Augsburg and subsequently was admitted to the Munich University of Music and Performing Arts at the age of nine. 

Internationally prominent and active as both soloist and chamber ensemble performer, Fischer is one of the finest musicians of her generation, with deep musical sensibilities and brilliant technical facility. Her playing exudes energy and joy—qualities fully evident in  her performances of the Brahms D major violin concerto and the Grieg piano concerto that I have selected.

Grieg Piano Concerto, Mov 3 by Julia Fischer, Pintscher, JDP 2008



Johannes Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major with Michael Tilson Thomas/NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester




A Place Like This
Finding Myself in a Cape Cod Cottage
by Sally W. Buffington
A book for anyone who's ever loved a house.
When newly engaged Sally Buffington is introduced to Craigville, she meets an expansive Cape Cod cottage that is virtually a family member itself. She quickly finds herself competing for airtime among the talkative, assured band of brothers—and her new mother-in-law, the cottage’s lively and confounding matriarch. Sally, a Cape Cod local, soon wonders how she’ll ever maintain her independence, let alone her sense of self when the day’s agenda and every detail is already set in stone. But she navigates her new life with quiet persistence and a boundless curiosity that guides her to explore life through the creative lens of her camera and her pen. Sally writes with a whimsical candor that is both honest and humorous. Through poetic prose and heartfelt reflection, A Place Like This reveals the beauty of Cape Cod and shows us that sometimes the simplest of moments brings us the most lasting joy. Sally Buffington is a writer and photographer, also a classically trained musician. From her home in southern California, she migrates back to native ground in Massachusetts, especially her spiritual homeland of Cape Cod. Writing lyrically and imaginatively, ever aware of sensory experience and memory, Buffington takes the reader into her thoughts wherever she finds herself. Buffington can “see things other people don’t see” in everyday scenes and find them beautiful. But her prose is where that ability most shines through. This memoir paints a vivid and lasting memory of a home with as much personality as the family who lived there.
- Book Life
"Punctuated by sensory delights, the author’s prose can prove particularly mouthwatering" …. "An elegantly observant account that transports readers to a beloved place."
- Kirkus
To learn more, and order the book, go to Amazon,,, or your local bookstore.


Joan Behrens-Bergman has enjoyed a distinguished career as teacher, administrator, and performer. Executive Director of the Hoff-Barthelson Music School in Scarsdale, New York (1991-2017), she is a former piano and piano pedagogy faculty member of the Mannes College of Music College Division in New York City, where she was the director of the Conservatory’s Preparatory Division for eight years. She has appeared as piano soloist in recitals, guest artist with orchestras, pianist/lecturer on live radio broadcasts—and is known worldwide for her inspiring master classes, as well as her pedagogy seminars for teachers. She is listed in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.

A Gold Medal Winner of the International Recording Festival, Behrens-Bergman made her debut as a pianist at the age of 14 in New York City’s Town Hall and was immediately hailed by the critics for her “performances of unusual beauty and insight.” Her early musical training was guided by Cecile Jahiel of the Paris Conservatoire and Rudolf Ganz at Chicago Musical College. She was a student of the legendary Rosina Lhavinne at the Juilliard School and holds B.M. and M. M. Degrees in piano performance. From 1980 through 1983 she served as chamber music coordinator and orchestra pianist of the Domaine School and Orchestra of the Pierre Monteux Memorial Festival in Maine. Behrens-Bergman also has an extensive background in art history and has presented a lecture series, “Parallels of Twentieth Century Music and Art,” at Marymount Manhattan College. 

Sally Buffington is a writer and photographer and author of a memoir A Place Like This: Finding Myself In a Cape Cod House. She writes lyrically and imaginatively about food, place, books, nature, memory, and photography. To see more of her work, go to and purchase it through ArtsMart.

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