Summer music listening. In my opinion, this should be purely enjoyable, agenda-free, anything you like. Old friends, in particular, are welcome. Overcome that work ethic for a while if you can!
This summer, I’ve gone back as far as my first semester of freshman year of college, with a music “apreesh” course taught by a certain Mr. Rella. We used Joe Machlis’ The Enjoyment of Music. For years after graduation, I hunted for that book in my mother’s basement, finding it last summer in the nick of time. It’s a gem, and I recommend it.
The musical work we began with, all those years ago, was none other than “The Moldau” by Smetana, from his suite Ma Vlast. It’s a chestnut if ever there was one. And I made sure to download a good performance from Amazon this summer, and I’ve had it on constantly ever since. It’s on as I write this.
Going back this far has been a balm and a tonic–a perfect accompaniment to the hummingbirds and bees outside my window. I have had many memories, and more of them are good and happy than I’d given myself credit for.
So I went farther. I got a full set of the Brandenburgs, which I haven’t troubled to own for some years. Also The Planets by Gustav Holst. (I have a fine LP of the Grand Canyon Suite of Grofé, so I’m set there!). Also, while I was at it, early Bach played by Harald Vogel and by my grand-teacher Wanda Landowska. The Franck symphony and violin sonata. The Schubert impromptus that I lived with as an undergraduate and late bloomer at the piano.
Chestnuts all–but I love chestnuts.
It’s perhaps neither important nor urgent to physically own discs or mp3 files of the “top 40″ of the classical world–perhaps especially if one is a performing classical musician and has other repertoire in mind most of the time. After all, there are streaming services and even some FM stations still offering this fare. Still, it’s good for a professional to examine his music library from time to time to make sure that his feet are still on the ground. It’s as good a grounding exercise as gardening or chopping winter firewood. Trust me on that.
This post was published on Facebook on August 26 at 10:17 AM. I removed it on September 26 at 5:50 PM.