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Doing the Floors

Nadia Boulanger, pianist and teacher, in Wisdom for our Time, edited by James Nelson (Norton)

There is nothing boring in life except ourselves. The most humble work does not have to be boring. I remember Madame Duval, the old woman who cleaned the floor in my place in Gargenville. I think of her with profound respect and reverence. She was 80 years old. One day she knocked at my door and said, "Mademoiselle, I know you don't like to be disturbed, but the floor, come and see it; it shines!"

In my mind, Stravinsky and Madame Duval will appear before the Lord for the same reason. Each had done what he does with all his consciousness. When I said this to Stravinsky, who knew Madame Duval, he said, "How you flatter me, for when I do something, I have something to gain. But she, she has only the work to be well done."