Monday, March 14, 2011

The Musician

"What do you do?" I asked the bald man in glasses standing next to me.

"I'm working on a Masters degree in Music History."

"I hope you don't mind me saying this," I said. "But that has absolutely zero appeal to me. Why does it interest you?" I tried not to say this in a mocking tone, but in a way that made him realize I really wanted to understand the allure of music history.

"Well, my goal was to be a concert performer on the bassoon, but I got a recurring tendon problem, so I had to quit. I've always loved music, but I loved it so much more after I studied the lives of different composers and was able to take that knowledge into my listening. Music is constantly changing, and I like to study those changes."

"Like what kind of changes?"

"For example, there was a significant shift in music during WWII. Before the war, composers were very daring and innovative--new trailblazers. But the horrors and catastrophic shock of the war made composers nostalgic for the peace and good-feelings of the past. Their music harked back to older, more classic pieces. In essence, they became more conservative."

That night I turned on some classical piano music while I set the dinner table. I thought about how beautiful the notes are, then made a promise to myself to learn more about the composers' lives. Because every piece of music has hidden notes that make the piece what it is: the flats and sharps of experience, and the minor and major keys of life.

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