Monday, January 10, 2011

Go Wolfgang

Everything has its own food, and music is the food of the spirit.

In the former, primitive, pre transistor, pre CD days the only way to get music, if you didn't make your own, was either on a cumbersome record player with vulnerable analogue disks or through a radio with tubes. But anyone who was hungry for the songs of the day had a portable AM radio which they carried next to their ear. There were plenty of yelling top 40 DJs supplying the air with all the latest hits.

If, like myself, you were a classical music lover, the opportunities were very slim. It was a hunting game. There was the station in New York where I was growing up, but it went off the air at midnight. Switch over to another Music Till Dawn station and then another one for the Saturday afternoon opera broadcast from the Met which happened only for part of the year. It was a stuggle.

But it was a struggle that was worth it. As more and more people were discovering the classical arena of music, musical education was improving in the schools and the United States was beginning to produce great musicians of its own, not having to rely completely on the gifted artists of Europe.

I like to compare classical musicians to Grand Prix drivers. Those people can drive anything, from a tractor on up, in any kind of traffic. In a recent interview a member of the New York Philharmonic said the orchestra was so good it could play any kind of music set before it. Unfortunately there is still some prejudice against "serious" music, even from some "popular" musicians. But the prejudice doesn't usually go the other way. Real musicians can not only play any kind of music, they can also appreciate it, even simple music. Shostakovich, the great Russian composer of symphonies and string quartets, also wrote some children's songs.

Some people have their favorites, the bombast of the 1812 Overture, the grand Hallelujah Chorus, Beethoven's Fifth and so on, but they don't venture into music they don't know. And when most people think of music they think of songs, lyrics, words. In pure music there are no words, or rather, there are words and ideas expressed in a language people aren't familiar with and don't learn.

That was my big discovery as a child with my radio hugged to my ear. I heard the language of music and have been a music lover ever since. If you want to know where the truth is it's in all the music of Bach, the late Beethoven string quartets and the Mozart piano concertos.

Now here is something you must do before the year is out and the sooner the better. Even if you don't like classical music, even if you hate it, you must listen to Alfred Brendel perform the Mozart Piano Concerto number 23 in A major K. 488. Buy, borrow or steal it (no don't steal it). Don't do anything else but listen. Concentrate, hear every note and let it talk to you. Listen to it twice through, at least. Don't intellectualize about it, Climb its ladders and swim in its streams. Hear the gentle rain, hear the warm sun. It is a grand, loving, work of genius and pure spirituality. It sings, dances, weeps, laughs, swirls and jumps with joy. It is life affirming, world changing, a gift from heaven to an as yet undeserving human race. Hear it, enjoy it. That's an order.

DB - The Vagabond

(This is not a contest)

What was the most significant event that happened in 2010?

Only 1 response so far

I await your answer.


pacifica62 said...

I do remember those days with the tiny AM radios but most of us were trying to find big city radio stations that played Top 40 music. Our local station sure did not. Seems you were the opposite looking for good classical music. Ironic that you ended up working for a radio station which played the classics. I was raised with light classical music and the Texaco Saturday afternoon at the Metropolitan Opera. I liked to listen even though I had no clue what they were singing. When I listened to the classics on Disk Drive on CBC Radio 2 in the afternoon I would often discover new music I liked and knew of a music store that could tell me what I had heard and sell it to me. I did listen to part of the Brendel Mozart $23 in A K488. A beautiful piece for sure and perhaps I will listen to all of it one day soon. Music like that (as with most classics) does not need words or lyrics. It is the feelings and emotons that come through in the listener's experience. It is almost like there are words, but there are none as the music flows from one feeling to another and my imagination fills in the rest.

Rose~* said...

I'm listening to it right now, courtesy of You Tube. I prefer music like this when I like to soak in my bubble-bath filled tub. Thanks for sharing.