Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Would you jump off a bridge just because your friends did?
Yeah, well maybe, if they were attractive friends. And sufficient alcohol were involved.
I’ve been to two parties this season where classical music became a topic of conversation. Beethoven vs Brahms, Debussy vs Ravel, blah, blah, blah. The only thing everyone agreed on was Mozart . Overrated, they said; a necessary step in the evolution of music of course, but too light to travel well. So I, too, gave his corpse a kick.
And have no idea why. I like the guy. I could have said something like, “Please don’t criticize my friends to my face.” But no, I’m a little insecure when it comes to my knowledge and appreciation of the great and notsogreat composers. In this arena I’m the product of self-education and a bad teacher.
When I tell people I grew up in a household that listened only to classical music, that isn’t strictly true. I grew up in a household that barely listened to music at all, but when they accidentally did, the music was classical. By default. The only records the parents had were in these 40 pound albums that must have belonged to grandparents in the old country who didn’t want them either.
So that's the music I played on my Sears stereo. If a dollar or two came my way, likely I’d take it to the drug store and buy a bargain classical album, the cheaper the better. The cheapest usually had a gypsy girl dancing on the cover, don’t ask me why. But the tunes made me happy, sad, sometimes frantic with excitement and energy, other times they kept me safe from night terrors.
All the above still holds true. Beethoven, Debussy, Grieg, Bach, they never get old. Nor does Mozart.
Argerich plays Mozart
(photo from Shorpy's)