The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 21, 2013

St. Peter couple preserves, promotes works of forgotten composer

(Continued)

Michael and Bonnie have spent the last two years researching Cormontan’s life. They found that before coming to America, she had apparently become a music publisher and collected an extensive rental library. From several dates that appear on Cormontan’s compositions, Michael believes she crafted the majority after moving to Minnesota.

So far, the couple has translated and digitized less than 30 of the compositions. Along the way, Michael said he’s gained a level of respect for the composer.

“I think she was strong, determined, very bright and very hard-working,” he said.

Stories of artists who gained their fame posthumously are abundant. So, too, are the stories of those who recognized the value of their art.

Franz Kafka demanded that all his unpublished manuscripts be burned upon his death. Thankfully, his best friend and literary executor, Max Brod, refused the wish. John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “A Confederacy of Dunces” was not published until several years after his suicide when author Walker Percy recognized its merit.

Augustus Caeser ignored Virgil’s wish to destroy “Aeneid.” So did Vladimir Nabakov’s son, who allowed his father’s final manuscript, “The Original of Laura,” to be published in 2009 despite a demand that the unfinished work be burned.

Though there might be a certain philosophical argument to be made against ignoring an author’s libricidal last wishes, those who strive to promote forgotten and forsaken works of art deserve thanks from those of us on the viewing end.

That includes Michael and Bonnie Jorgensen, who have given Cormontan what she was never able to achieve in her lifetime.

“I think she is a really fine composer,” Michael said. “I hope now she can have a full appraisal of her music.”

For more information about Cormontan, visit www.jorgensennotes.com.

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