Posted by Elizabeth Devereux

…that Condoleezza Rice plays piano?  Not only was she the first African-American woman Secretary of State under George W. Bush, she is also a highly accomplished concert pianist.  Here she is after performing with the Philadelphia Orchestra last summer at the Mann Center in Fairmount Park:

Condoleezza was bound to be good at music: even her name grew out of musical terms!  Her parents combined the musical terms con dulcezza, meaning “with sweetness”, to make the name “Condoleezza”.  Her mother was a music teacher, and by the age of 10, Condoleezza was accepted to study piano at the Birmingham Southern Conservatory of Music, in her hometown, Birmingham, Alabama–she was the first black student accepted to the conservatory!  (She’s been lots of firsts in her lifetime.)

When Condoleezza was 13, her family moved to Denver, Colorado.  Condoleezza kept studying piano seriously, hoping to be a professional concert pianist when she grew up.  When she was 15, she won a competition that allowed her to play Mozart’s Piano Concert No. 20 in D minor with the Denver Symphony.

Condoleezza kept playing piano seriously even after she decided not to pursue a career in music, instead pursuing a career in political science and later politics.  Even while she was serving as Secretary of State for George W. Bush, she still made time to play chamber music with other amateur musicians in Washington.  And just last summer, Condoleezza played the SAME Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20–the one she won the competition on at age 15–with the Philadelphia Orchestra at their summer stage!  At the same concert, she also accompanied the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.  The two women, along with the Philadelphia Orchestra, managed to raise about $580,000 for music charities for children in Philadelphia and Detroit.

WOW!  They have my R-E-S-P-E-C-T!


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