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Someone asked me recently, “Is music one of those things that you just like more and more the more you know about it?” Indeed.
I started in one of those classes where the teacher brings in a lot of different music instruments (mostly percussion) and lets the kids play with them a while, creating a terrible raucous of a noise. This was the second grade, and somewhere around that point or slightly after, we were all given the choice of instruments. For me, for some reason, it was the clarinet or the saxophone. At the time, it had the closest relation to popular music through its association with jazz. My parents (my whole family, really) love music, mostly the kid of stuff that would have been on the radio in the 70s, to make a generalization. I grew up around quite a wide range of what would be considered contemporary or adult rock or pop, and it’s in my blood to be unable not to sing along, even with only a tenuous grasp of the lyrics. That was as far as my musical exposure had gotten. From the standpoint of someone else my age, by middle school, I’d learned to enjoy and appreciate music my peers had never heard. By the same token, though, I didn’t have any older siblings, so I came around much later to enjoying stuff my peers did, and I thoroughly enjoyed pop music and radio stuff, but real music people, you know, find stuff that’s not on the radio, stuff that the mainstream doesn’t play, and that’s when you feel like a cool kid.
My initial focus on classical music began when I finally started taking piano lessons, after having moved halfway around the world, so ended up taking lessons in Chinese, but the idea came to me… that I’d like to know as much as possible about this centuries-long history of music, to hear something and know not just who it might be, but what piece it is, and when it was written, and for whom, and why, etc.
That’s quite a tall order, but as I said at the beginning, the more you know about something, it seems, the more you appreciate it, and that is certainly the case here. What began as listening to some Chopin and Rachmaninoff or Schumann sonatas while walking the dog eventually turned into this: more than 600 articles, now including concert reviews, a podcast, and having met some very cool people, and listened to a ton of music, but with the feeling that I still haven’t even begun.
Some of my album purchases happen in the same manner you’d go to the grocery store hungry and throw all kinds of expensive delicious looking stuff in your basket and maybe forget you have it.
The short version of the story, then, is that I am not a musician in any manner, and that in the practical, real-world arena of doing something with music (conducting, writing, performing), I am wholly incapable. My hope then, can only be that some interest, curiosity, enjoyment, passion, can be contagious, spread around a bit, to introduce something to somebody that they’ll love, so go check out some of the pieces and see if there’s not something incredible to be found.
13 thoughts on “About & Contact”
“I didn’t have any older siblings, so I came around much later to enjoying stuff my peers did.”
I can relate to that.
You have perfected an approach to sharing classical music, and I am amazed it has taken this long for me to have discovered your site. I operate a classical music radio program on a small community station in Arlington, VA. The program is called Classical Explorations, is one hour a week, and has managed to broadcast more than 100 programs. I also have no practical experience as performer, teacher, etc. Just a love for the music and a hope to introduce, to that small population that is interested in classical music, works that might have escaped their attention. I am excited about the ability to explore the wealth of information you have assembled and made available.
Hello again; just wondering whether you’d ever listened to any music by Daniel Jones, arguably Wales’s greatest symphonist (certainly in terms of number – he wrote one for every note of the chromatic scale, plus a 13th that he was commissioned to write late in life – although some might rate Alun Hoddinott, Grace Williams or William Mathias more highly). Symphonies 1-5 and 9-13 are all available on either Spotify or YouTube (albeit of decidedly patchy recording quality in the case of the latter), and I have plenty of time for 1-2, 4, 8-11 and 13 (for my money, he squanders promising ideas early in the others by trying to be too clever). No. 1 is kind of his “Schnittke 0” – engaging and easy on the ear, but atypically conventional in its approach to both harmony and form). As for my other picks, I have a feeling that the appreciator of Simpson and Rubbra’s thematic transformations in you would respond favourably to them. 4 (a memorial for Dylan Thomas, a childhood friend of Jones’s) and 9 are probably the best introductions to Jones’s dark and light(er) side respectively.
Thank you for this information. Jones and Hoddinott have been on a number of lists of mine, but I just never got around to figuring out where to start. Problem solved I guess! I’ll give them a listen this week.
Williams isn’t just in there in the interests of political correctness, by the way: I find her 2nd Symphony (she was very self-critical, and withdrew her 1st) to be superior to most of Jones’s and Hoddinott’s.
Everything OK? You haven’t posted anything for over a month; very unlike you.
Hi! Thanks for checking in, and sorry for the belated reply. I’m taking a little time off, a little break after five and a half years, and hope to get back to writing, maybe with a slightly different approach, after a little while. Thanks!
No hurry! 🙂 I just wanted to reassure myself that nothing awful had happened to you.
Do hope the crazy last 2 years have treated you well. I’m late to this blog and sad it seems to ended but thanks all the same. Cheers
The idea of starting to write again has been a persistent one, but nothing has yet come of it (at least here). We shall see. Thanks for the kind words!
Your ideia of interviewing every musician of the orchestra is great. It is helpful to know what the players like to play (or don’t mind to play).
Your ideia of interviewing each musician of the orchestra is great. It is helpful to know what they like to play (or don’t mind to play).