Monday, 19 December 2011

Classical Music

It is often a matter of regret to us that we dismiss, and even ridicule, early in our lives some things which, in retrospect, could have been of value and benefit to our lives. Such an approach is sometimes based on ignorance, and at other times born of peer pressure or plain cowardice or lack of backbone.

In my teens, I had a music teacher at school who always strove to enthuse his pupils with his own love for classical music. His tutelage had some effect on me, and the music began to enter my consciousness, in particular the work of Zoltan Kodaly and Jean Sibelius.

In any sane world, classical music would from then on have become part and parcel of my leisure time, enriching my life. But, of course, in adolescence we are subject to forces which often preclude such cultural departures, including the fear of mockery and the clamour to conform and belong. So, classical music was shoved into the background of my life, as I ran with the crowd.

It was only around two years ago that I truly rediscovered classical music, and then almost by accident. A thread on an internet forum prompted me to revisit some of the music from those school music classes. This renewed curiosity opened up a whole new vista of entertainment, cultural stimuli and spirituality. The music "spoke" to me to such an extent that I felt a genuine tinge of disappointment that my quality of life could have benefited had I not so summarily banished it all those years previously.

The particular sub-types of classical music which I have been drawn to are those which have a real emotional pull and resonance, and which have the capacity to stir the soul.   So Gustav Mahler, Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt and my old friend Sibelius tend to be favoured, and even the operas of Puccini are also beginning to make their presence felt.

With my "re-conversion" to the glories of classical music, I could perhaps have been forgiven for seeing some rock and pop music in a different light, belittling it as somehow hollow or superficial. However, my regard for my favourite rock artists has barely altered.  After all has been said and done, music is music, and much of it has the power to delight and stimulate, no matter when it was written or originally performed. I have simply become conscious once more of the ability of some classical music to accomplish this role.

Oddly enough, as my tastes in classical have tilted towards Romantic and post-Romantic composers, it is the music of the eras preceding these movements which I have had trouble getting worked up about!  After listening to Mahler, Wagner et al, even some of the works of Mozart, Bach and Haydn have appeared slightly "fluffy" and lightweight to me!

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