'One Last Goodbye'
November 9th, 2022
By Chris Farnsworth
The death of a loved one can inspire all sorts of reactions. When Vermont author and songwriter Nancy L. Hassett-Dahm lost her husband, Alfons Dahm, in August 2021, her grief pushed her to try something she had never attempted: writing a piece of classical music.
Dahm, 74, spent time in her youth as a professional singer and songwriter, then became a hospice nurse. Even after writing her 2001 book, Mind, Body, and Soul: A Guide to Living With Cancer, Dahm never really lost the songwriting bug, composing country songs such as "I'm Not Done Yet" and "The Devil Came Down to Texas."
After Alfons died, Dahm was overwhelmed with grief. Yet she was determined to compose a piece of music to honor a man whom she described by email as someone "who worked hard all his life, was a father, and a good husband."
"My Departed Love" is Dahm's classical music debut, a gorgeous, elegiac piece of music that eulogizes the love of her life. Though she never learned to read music, Dahm spent months painstakingly learning to play the song that she had written in a matter of hours. She initially recorded the song at André Maquera's West Street Digital studios in St. Albans earlier this year; Vermont musician Will Patton wrote the score for piano.
Since then, she's taken it up a notch, enlisting the Capellen Orchestra to perform and record "My Departed Love." The orchestra, composed of musicians from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary and led by conductor Petr Pololáník, has scored films and TV shows such as "The Tudors." Its rendition of Dahm's composition is something to behold, a mesmerizing take on a song she calls "a powerful statement of loss and eternal love." A video of the Capellen Orchestra's performance of the piece is up now at mydepartedlove.com.
It's not every day you retain a renowned orchestra to perform your first-ever classical piece, but Dahm feels that she is just getting started. "What I hope people will take from this is that you can do anything your heart desires, at any age," she wrote. "Age isn't a limiting factor, and where there is a will, there is a way."