A few years ago, while talking with my cousin, I mentioned something about attending a symphony concert. He said, “UGH. Classical music is BORING!” Then he made a choke-gagging sound and pretended to die, complete with tongue lolling out and glassy eyes fixed vacantly into space.
I guess he forgot that I have a master’s degree in music performance. My main instrument is the viola, but I also play violin pretty well and can massacre a few easy songs on guitar and piano. Oh, and I sing. In fact, I am the best singer in the entire world. (For realz; my kids told me I am.)
I don’t really care that my cousin was insensitive. I get it; people have opinions. But I feel like, when it comes to Classical music, the public’s apathy towards it is not simply a matter of opinion; it is a matter of ignorance. Maybe I’m an odd bird, or perhaps I was born with the musical inclinations of an 88 year old. (But if that’s the case, then why do I like rap music?)
I just cannot imagine a person listening to some of this stuff (Classical music) and not being moved, either to tears or into a fit of ecstasy (OMG I CANNOT spell that word. Took me five tries GRRR). I have a few favorites that drive me to the point of wanting to fling myself out a window or go dry hump the nearest available human. Is it seriously just me? People who say Classical music is boring, I’m sorry, but I don’t think you’re doing it right.
But who can blame a person for being ignorant about a type of music that has been evolving for the last five centuries? Even if a person is curious to know more, where would one begin?
Right here, mutha fucka. I can enlighten you. The truth is, I’ve been selfish. All this time I’ve been writing about PMS, marriage, ADHD and girly parts, I’ve been withholding this soul-shifting music from you. You ought to be pissed, really.
Now please get someplace where you can turn on your volume and won’t be embarrassed if you’re discovered having an existential nervous breakdown.
We’ll start with a dude name Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Pronounced “Bock” except you have to gag a little on the “ck,” because, German. Stuff was building up for a couple hundred years before him, but he’s considered the God Father of Classical music. No bloody horse heads for him, though. He was mostly a straight arrow, always writing music for the church or the noblemen he worked for (that’s how it was back then), but he was a huge music snob (rightly so) and kept getting “dismissed” from or quitting various positions, often because he wasn’t happy with the quality of the performers with regards to the music he was composing. He even went to jail over it for a little while. And by the way, Bach had 20 kids with two different wives (not sister wives; that would have been frowned upon), only 10 of whom survived to adulthood. Crazy, right?
But Bach wrote what is, in my opinion, the most beautiful piece of music ever written: The Chaconne. This piece is hardly even mentioned in the description of Bach on Wikipedia, which only serves to confirm my distaste for that site. The Chaconne, itself 15 minutes long, is actually the last part of a larger violin piece that Bach wrote, since, back then, music was SUPER-HOLY-SHIT long because there were no TVs or smart phones to distract people or make them impatient. In those days, people had time to sit around for hours and let their hearts fall apart over a piece of music.
Imagine being from a tiny town on the country side, never having heard much music other than maybe some folk tunes on an out-of-tune harpsichord, played by your grandmother in a mediocre fashion… and then, for whatever reason, you get the opportunity to travel into town and attend a recital, and what you hear is this (The Chaconne):
(If you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing, just listen from 4:38 – that’s where I get all verklempt and, if I’m PMSing, snot-cry.)
Bach also wrote the cello suites (suite = a larger piece encompassing several smaller pieces), which were virtually undiscovered for 200 years until a Spanish cellist by the name of Pablo Cassals (1876-1973) picked up the suites and made them famous. Everyone – even people who claim Classical music is lame – knows the first movement of Bach’s first cello suite:
By the way, I think it’s ridiculous that Yo-Yo Ma is randomly playing cello in the snow in this video. It makes me think of a lingerie commercial (Nobody actually does that!). Also, this happens to be the piece I played for my audition that won me a scholarship to the Aspen Festival of Music. 😉
So, that’s a little bit of Bach. What do you think? Did you have a musicgasm? Were you at least slightly moved? A tiny bit? Eh… maybe it’s just me. But if you guys enjoy my little diversions into Classical music, I’ll do a post like this every so often. If you don’t enjoy them, that’s just fine, I suppose, but you should know I will probably respond to this rejection by listening to the last act of Puccini’s Tosca on YouTube while sobbing over the state of the world and pulling my hair out in clumps. I’ll be like Leeloo from Fifth Element when she learns about war. Don’t do that to me, you guys.