Saturday, April 12, 2003

music to her ears

I think that instrumental music should be part and parcel of childhood. Growing up, I was exposed to classical music because of my mother's fondness for Tchaikovsky and several other popular composers. Nikki grew up with modern orchestral master Gershwin - big band but not exactly classical. Sage, on the other hand, has been exposed to our love of Broadway, which really isn't instrumental but is big band.

So what orchestral music to play for Sage?

From the Baroque Period we have Vivaldi and Bach, with their beautiful ornamental music. The Classical Era provides us with Haydyn, Mozart and Beethoven, with more accessible compositions. The Romatics, favored drama, and produced Wagner, my mother's Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Mahler. And in the Modern Era, we have Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Nikki's Gershwin, Copland and the great Bernstein (who, with West Side Story, nicely ties up everthing with a Broadway sound).

And unlike before, when owning classical music was expensive, now we have the internet to download music from great composers. It is no issue to walk into a store and pick up a CD or to order it online. We even have a book that came with samples of music from wonderful composers.

Now all we have to do is to keep playing it, until it becomes part of Sage's everyday environment - not exclusive (like original classical music was written for and performed only for the church or for royalty), but part of her audial surroundings. Available, like the beauty of a sunset.

This afternoon, as Nikki and I listen to everything from Franck's Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major to Grieg's Peer Gynt to the Broadway version of Chicago, I was struck by an ephiphany which answered this question: Why was I a mere classical music appreciator instead of a passionate devotee?

The answer was visual. Being a reader and writer primarily, I find myself impatient with the way music unfolds. Unlike a book which I can read at my pace, I have no control over the pace of the composition's performance. When I listen to new (to me) classical music, I have no idea where a movement is going, unlike text which I am readily comfortable with. To some, this condition may be exactly why they love classical music more than I do. But to me, unless it is a work I am already familiar with, I find myself on unsteady ground. My ear is not well-trained - my taste in classical music is profoundly mundane (I struggle with Stravinsky, what more bolder, rarer and more experimental composers?).

But at the very least Nikki and I aim to provide Sage with a background to at least appreciate non-Pop, non-Technowhatever.

Then she can choose if it is music to her ears.


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