Thoughts (2017)

Our mind’s capability of spanning extremely fast in all directions in a very short time goes far longer and extensively in proportion to the passage of physical Time in our lifetime. We are physically unable to do things as fast as our brains, but strangely enough, though Time doesn’t change as it always goes at the same pace, we have the sensation that when we are young Time goes slow and then gradually of Time going seemingly faster and faster. This incongruence of the brain’s ability to go fast, the sense of physical Time going slow and then faster, but still not as fast as that of the brain, is very strange.  Since we accumulate notions, though some get selected and others discarded, as time passes there seem to be fewer and fewer novelties to discover and assimilate and we spend more time elaborating one thing at a time which seems to fill less space in our lives and the time-lapse seems shorter and shorter. The more you do or think in a day, the more it seems that your life is longer.


I do not have much time to read books other than classical literature. Life is too short. At the moment I am reading Anna Karennina on trams and buses and when a pupil doesn’t come to a lesson. 

To say the truth, I am not interested in the musical world anymore. As a young woman I went to many concerts of Avant-garde music for 15 years and then I told myself that I had done my duty of knowing what the contemporary world was like and that I had had enough! I do not care about Minimalism either. Somehow there isn’t a composer that I know of that I really, really like. I hope an exceptional composer will come to the forefront one day, but these are hard times to emerge, above all from the Avant-garde world. Very tough indeed!  

I like flowers and plants very much and I have a wonderful terrace in Milan. Everyone admires it and also because it’s continuously changing. I have also 29 palms of various sizes and one has grown six large flowers which have opened to show the white fruits. They have all planted themselves from seeds in the wind, except for the tallest one which was left on the terrace by the previous owner of my house. My terrace is very varied and colourful. My husband is interested in herbs. He cooks very well and uses herbs and spices in all his dishes. I am very lucky because I never have to cook since I do not have very good health.

28th May 2017

The Costa Jews in my family

My grandmother was born a Costa. I do not know where they originally came from though I know that there are three main possible branches, the ones who directly settled in Italy after the 2nd siege of the Temple of Jerusalem by the Romans, the ones from Germany, the Ashkenazi, a group that had emigrated through the Western Mediterranean countries, and the Sephardim, from Spain and Portugal, a group that had emigrated through Africa. Costa means coast and as far as I can go back, the father of my grandmother came from Sperlonga which is on the coast. His wife was called Filomena Agrestini was Catholic and both of them had settled in Rome, though she came from nearby Gaeta. She had to have her 10 children baptized secretly in the Basilica of Maria Aracoeli in front of the Rome ghetto because he didn’t want to do so for some reason or other. He was a Mazzinian Republican, a Mason and probably an atheist, or maybe he still had some Jewishness in him, who knows. He was a fishmonger, representative of all the fishmongers at the Roman Portico d’Ottavia in Rome and served the Royal Family before WW1. At a certain time, he had a real shop with a cashier instead of a bench under the Roman arch, he dressed well and had a golden ring on each little finger. My aunt told me that one day he was on the main road of the ghetto and a poor man went up to him begging desperately. My great grandfather took off one of his rings and gave it to him. He managed to find work for most of his children. One had another fish shop, and one had a restaurant which is still a restaurant now and is still named after him. There are two little plaques on the wall, one saying that Goethe liked to go and eat there and the other saying that this was a famous restaurant once called Trattoria Angelino. He also sold wine. I met my Great Uncle Angelino, my grandmother’s older brother, with my parents when I was a young girl in my teens and I remember him very well. Now I realise why my father had so much Jewishness in him, though very little Jewish blood left. He would never talk about this matter and when I asked questions he would smile knowingly. When he died, I found out the above facts from his brother and sister. I am glad to have some Jewish blood in me, but I don’t know exactly why. A Jewish friend of mine asked me why and what I would define as a Jewish character at its best. To sum it up: Never trust anybody, not even your family, be precise, careful, proud, on the lookout, become of tough character, never giving up, read and study, keep your head low but aim for the highest achievements. This is not enough because there is a look on some Jewish people’s faces that is indescribable. It goes beyond the usual facial particularities that people look for, like a big or aquiline nose, thicker lips, inquisitive piercing eyes etc. and one understands this only by experience.

27th May 2017

Having done a DNA test, I have found only 3.1% Ashkenazi blood so my great grandfather Ernesto Costa’s mother Maria Trani could not have been Jewish. Only his grandfather could have been purely Jewish. My father would have been approximately 6.25. Grandma Olga 12.50, great grandfather Ernesto 25%, great great grandfather Giovanni 50% but I do not know the name of his father who should have been 100% Jewish.


All the students of the Avant-gardists are fanatics as their teachers. Probably, I am a fanatic too in the opposite sense! Let’s hope that time isolates them so much that they slowly disappear. However, a few days ago there was the end-of-year student concert. For the first time, I had the general impression of an overall heterogeneous musical picture. Styles of all genres. From lieder for voice and piano, tonal to the maximum, little more than scholastic but still beautiful, to the usual pieces of avant-garde students. I must say that I was very happy with my three students, all completely different from one another and far from being scholastic. Fortunately, I believe in maximum freedom of expression and I am only happy when I see that my students do not take anything from me and are all different. Well! I firmly believe that this concert was a start towards a new historical path in our Conservatorio. I hope that the young pupils of all other classes will gradually convert!

June 2017

I was wrong!

It has all become worse. I see that even my former students who wanted to be composers are taking paths far from mine and others are only teaching. I don’t recognize them anymore.

19th February 2022