So many stories.
So many moments of happiness…sadness…nostalgia…comfort…power…and so much more that our storytellers are willing to share with us.
This is why we enjoy interviewing people like you about the music you love. Through gentle conversation, we try to understand what your music means to you. We believe that one person’s experiences can resonate for many other people. Maybe it will also make them reflect on the music they love, music that has moved them for particular reasons or at particular times. Maybe it will make them curious to explore the new musical territory described so vividly by others.
What strikes us in these conversations is the passion people typically express when they use the words My Music. Everyone’s taste in music is extremely individual and personal. It may remain the same throughout life. Or someone may have a sudden revelation or “opening,” like the Rock critic who stumbled into a classical concert (click on this link).
What also strikes us is how excited people become when they’re encouraged to talk about the music they love. So often they have unexpected new insights right during our conversation. We and they feel a genuine delight in being able to share thoughts and feelings about their music.
Consider joining us in our mind-expanding quest to demonstrate the value of music very clearly and concretely through music lovers’ stories. All you have to do is use our Contact Page here or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will set up a phone or skype session with you at your convenience. We will not use your name or identifying information in anything we publish. Your privacy is assured.
So what are you waiting for? Join the conversation!
To kick off the stories, we’re going to start with one close to home. This is the only case where we will use real names.
We once heard a musician say that he thought most people form their musical tastes around age 14. That is, the musical pieces they loved then remain their core favorite pieces no matter how old they are. True for you?
It is for Josh, co-author of this blog. Life in Cape Town, South Africa wasn’t easy after his father died suddenly when he was 10. His much older siblings were gone from the house. His mother became depressed and couldn’t cope with a young child. Their economic status dropped drastically. He had been raised on classical music in the home and started playing the violin when he was quite young, so it was natural for him to turn to music for solace as a teenager. When he was about 14 he heard Felix Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony for the first time. It quickly became one of his favorite pieces.
It has been described by an eminent British musicologist, the late Sir Donald Francis Tovey, as “one of Mendelssohn’s most perfect works.” Inspired by his visit to Italy in 1830-31 (Mendelssohn was all of 21 years old when he journeyed through Venice, Rome, Florence, and Naples), he himself gave the work its name. As he exulted in a letter of the time: “This is Italy. What I have been looking forward to all my life as the greatest happiness is now begun, and I am basking in it. ..The whole country had such a festive air that I felt as if I were a young prince making his entry.”
As he talked about it in a mini-interview with Lynne, Josh suddenly realized how much this vibrant music had lifted his spirits at 14. He could feel like a young prince too as he listened. It offered an escape from darker emotions. In a sense, it saved his life.
This winter of 2013-14 has been as brutal in the Northeast U.S. as in other parts of the world. Sub-zero temperatures have been reported almost daily in January, making outdoor physical activities often dangerous. But we know how essential aerobic exercise is for brain health and total wellbeing. So running indoors, boring though it is, has become the easiest way to stay fit. One of Josh’s favorite pieces for indoor running is–you guessed it–Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony.
Why is it good running music? He explains:
“The first movement, an Allegro vivace–it’s in an irresistible cantering rhythm with some gently rocking contrasting melody– has me pumping away in sweats and sneakers, running from room to room.
The next movement, Andante con moto, suggesting a religious procession, allows me to slow down slightly, but still maintain a steady pace.
I feel a wonderful warmth in the following gently melodic movement, as I sense the blood coursing through my veins, my breathing steady and sure.
To top everything off, and release all those wonderful endorphins, I relish the push of the Saltarello finale, a Presto movement with an infectious skipping figure. Mendelssohn said it reflected the hectic fun he experienced at the Roman Carnival.”
Here is Mendelssohn’s own description of that youthful experience:
“I arrived at the Corso…and was thinking of nothing, when suddenly I was assailed by a shower of sugar candies. I looked up and saw some ladies whom I had occasionally seen at balls, but scarcely knew; and when in my embarrassment, I took off my hat to bow to them, the pelting began in earnest…I grew desperate, and clutching the sugar comfits, I flung them back bravely…..And thus what with all the pelting and being pelted, amid a thousand jests and the most extravagant masquerade costumes, the day ended with horse races.”
Josh again: “In just under 30 minutes I can go from feeling down to feeling up–energized, joyful and exuberant, when I move to this music. The connection didn’t really occur to me until now, but I see that I keep coming back to it because it has so many positive associations for me from when I was a young teen.” He smiles. “I guess it’s still saving my life.”
Try moving your body to this rousing performance of one of Josh’s all-time favorite pieces, conducted by the brilliant young Gustavo Dudamel.
SOME READERS SHARE THEIR OWN RESPONSES:
When I was 12 or so my mother and I were enjoying the “Italian” together. It was glorious in Atlanta – azaleas, dogwood, daffodils. I decided then it was the perfect music for spring.
Years later in a dark time, Mom sent me a recording in the spring, with the note, “Do you remember?” Then finally it was my turn, as her memory began to fail, to send it to her. “Do you remember?” And we listened together when I saw her.
~~~ Much later I heard Dudamel’s first LA Phil performance of the “Italian” in the Disney Hall before he took it on tour. Many streams in my life converged on that unforgettable night.
~~~And just one more response to this moving post: Try one of my own favorite treadmill accompaniments – Sibelius Symphony #2 – especially in the winter. Thank you for all.
How original. I paused and smiled remembering my dad. Daddy worked 18 hours most days, getting out our local newspaper, The Harrington Journal, in Harrington, Delaware. Every morning, he would take me to get breakfast with him at the small mom and pop restaurant just down the street from the printing office. Money was tight, but we savored our time together.
My dad LOVED to dance more than anything else, and he love ALL music. Not surprising in high school music was my #1 aptitude.
My great joy was when Daddy would smile and hand me a quarter, a big sum back in my day, and tell me to play whatever I wanted. We both loved C-7, Blueberry Hill. Yes, indeed, I found my thrill, and so did he, on Blueberry Hill! I was 6 or 7. Sometimes we would even dance to it! What a sight we must have been at 7:30 a.m.! Back then, I had no awareness people didn’t dance at a restaurant let alone in the morning. What fun.
Yes, I still love music, all forms, though I am STILL trying to understand the culture of rap, truth be told. Thanks for the positive reminiscing. Great post.