Table of Contents

Classical music

Treasure trove. When I took up partner dancing in the early 90s I stopped listening to classical music. It had been part of life in Boulder, and I kept listening to my favorites from that era after I left. But my obsession with partner dancing strained our relationship. Becoming a DJ put the quietus to it. I'm grateful the pandemic forced me back, made me rediscover the music of my youth. And I've discovered a lot more. It's been a rich time for new discoveries in music.

He was a cool dude. My dad got me listening to classical music in the 50s. I remember staring at the turntable, entranced by its dustiness; maybe he was afraid to clean it? I first heard Grand Canyon Suite and Scheherazade on his hi-fi; I would beg for the donkey song, or the snaky violin. But then stereo became easy to come by and he got all new stuff, tho' he kept the one huge speaker, big enough for me to climb on.

Really just Talking Heads. With stereo came Reader's Digest classical music collections in boxed sets: Music of the World's Greatest Composers, Beethoven's Symphonies, and a collection of classical piano music. As I grew up I got drawn off: Henry Mancini, blues, psychedelic rock, Dire Straits, new wave. But I always came back to classical, expanding my listening into Bach on one end, Russian Romantics on the other.

Tone rows? Gimme a break. The music I love dries up around 1900; I find little that interests me in the 20th Century. Some Debussy & Satie; odd lots like Rodrigo & Piazzolla; individual pieces: Vaughn Williams's Tallis, Barber's adagio. Melody is the essence of music; without that it's not music to me.

Max Richter. But Max Richter has drowned me in delight. For the first time, a classical composer whose work I love is right here with me, making music out of the world I live in. His music is sad, like the state of the world, and profoundly healing. The real value of art is letting me see the world for what it is in a way that makes me a little more grateful to be here. The world is not the way any of us think it should be, and it never will be; it's just the way it is, mixed up and contradictory. A truly gifted artist like Max helps me love the world the way it is, and grasp more deeply that this is the only world there is, the only one I'll ever have a chance to love. I have to love this one or give up on loving.