I love all types of music, but the genre I listen to for at least several hours every day is Classical. I have been a hardcore fan of classical music since I was a young adolescent when I discovered Tchaikovsky, whose music continues to enthrall me. At the time I was really only familiar with the Rock music that my family listened to, so when I heard the sounds of Tchaikovsky, it started me on a path of musical enthusiasm that led to me beginning piano lessons, reading music history and composer biographies, and collecting CD after CD.
Every time I discovered a new composer I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about them and listening to as much of their music as I could. Each period of my life was outlined by several composers I was fascinated with at the time. From my Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Vivaldi days, to Bach, Haydn, and Beethoven, then to Dvorak, Brahms, Mahler, Chopin, and Liszt, I could not get enough of their masterpieces. Of course we had no internet in those years so all of my learning and listening was on many dozens of CD’s, books from the library and those given to me as gifts, and CD inserts, which I scoured through voraciously.
So what is it about classical music that entices me so much? In part I believe it is the complexity of musical ideas and the genius of constructing musical scores that attracts me because it gives me the opportunity to pick it apart and analyze it. The sounds of an orchestra are the most invigorating to me, and the power that these composers could write into their music was something I greatly aspired to. I mean, how could someone figure out how to notate a symphony for an entire orchestra on paper and be able to make the tremendous sound that they do? That was something I wanted to find out and started me on my endeavors of being a composer.
To be able to weave incredible intricate sounds and timbres together into a masterpiece that could convey intense emotional outpouring, as well as organize their ideas in a way that could prickle my skin was the most impressive act of creativity I could’ve imagined at the time. Plus, the ability that some of the virtuosi had in writing and performing pushed me harder to try and emulate their prowess, though I was frustrated when my fingers couldn’t move with their dexterity.
My preferred type of classical are the violent works, like the symphonies of Shostakovich and Mahler, the ballets of Stravinsky, and other powerful pieces by Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Prokofiev, and many others. I also love the passionate works by these composers and others. Oh yes, and the playful jests. See, that’s the thing about classical music – there is no typical type because the styles are so diverse and expansive that you can find it dealing with any emotion or structure.
I cannot really narrow down my favorite composers because I have many for various reasons. I like the emotion of Tchaikovsky and Beethoven, the mania of Shostakovich, the intricate mathematics of Bach, the aggression of Liszt, the magic of Mendelssohn and Schubert, the brilliance of Respighi, the terror of Penderecki and Stravinsky, the poetry of Chopin, the divinity of Messaien, and many others who pull on my heart strings in some way or another.
I went through a lot of turbulent personal struggles in my life and classical music was always there to support my spirits, mainly because I knew that many composers had tumultuous lives and personal damages as well. Some were suicidal, addicts, or downright “crazy.” Yet despite their obstacles they created memorable masterpieces for people like me, who admire the creative genius of their art.
I enjoy other genres, but I will have classical music playing in my room all day long while I’m writing, reading, studying, cleaning, exercising, or simply laying down to take in the soundscape. It has inspired much of my writing and with it, I can hear sounds with more awareness and appreciation. The fun of dissecting an orchestral score and looking at the many parts individually and putting them together is my version of puzzle games. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t have found classical music.
Unfortunately I didn’t make it as a professional musician, but it is something I want to work with for the rest of my life, even writing my own pieces in honor of those masters who innovated their way through history and left their sound echoing over the ages. I plan on finishing the pieces I started as a teen and maybe they will go somewhere, but if not, it is still the love of the art that drives me in my everyday life.