Sometimes I get tired of listening to music via Spotify because I have the free version and get interrupted during my playlists by ads. The worst part is that the ads are always louder than the music, so it’s more of an intrusion than normal. When that happens, I switch to listening to music on YouTube, and it’s always classical music. You can find long versions of classical music pieces, and that way, I can focus on writing with that in the background rather than worrying about ads or switching songs.
All of that to say, that got me thinking about my love of classical music. I’ve had an affinity for classical music for as long as I can remember. Unlike books or writing, though, I don’t have a specific memory of my first time listening to classical music or what drew me into classical music or even what age I was when I first remember hearing a piece of classical music. If I had to guess, I would say around the age of 15. That’s when I had my own laptop for the first time and began discovering broader music than what was featured on the radio.
When I was a vending machine attendant and truck driver in my 20s, I also would turn to the classical music station on my way to work at 3:30 in the morning. I would get to work a few minutes early so I could close my eyes and enjoy the classical music a few more extra beats before going into the monotony of work. Something beautiful before something drab.
There are people far more well-versed in classical music than I am, and could rattle off composers and symphonies, and obscure names I don’t know anything about. They could also interpret the music itself better than I ever could. I’m not smart enough, for the most part, to understand and interpret classical music, as I could music with lyrics.
But I always come back to the cliche answer, and I don’t care that it’s cliche: Ludwig van Beethoven. That’s my guy.
I don’t know if it’s his story coming out of a dysfunctional home life as a prodigy to become one of the most known composers in the history of music. I don’t know if it’s the image of him as this angry recluse because of his illnesses. I don’t know if it’s the juxtaposition of someone creating such beautiful music while also being nearly completely deaf. I do know that his name is cool, and has always stuck with me.
See? That’s the level of classical music analysis you’ll get from me: He has a cool name.
But what I also know is that I’ve always connected with his music. Much like other music I’m into, a lot of his more known pieces, like, “Für Elise,” “Funeral March,” and “Moonlight Sonata,” all have a dark undercurrent to them, and the way I like to describe it: As if Beethoven is smashing the keys, angered, and roaring against the world. I mean figuratively, of course, as the music is anything but “smashing keys.” Although, my ignorance about classical music is coming to the forefront. I didn’t realize that Frédéric Chopin is most associated with the “Funeral March.” I always thought it was Beethoven’s, but dare I say, Chopin’s is better! Well, darn.
Chopin, Mozart, Bach, Debussy, Wagner, Verdi, Vivaldi, and Liszt, to name a few, are also great listens, but there’s something about Beethoven I return to and for which they all lack. Again, someone smarter than I am about this stuff may be able to tell me what that is. And if that’s you, tell me!
Of course, Beethoven isn’t all doom and gloom, as another one of my favorites of his is “Ode to Joy,” and I can only associate that with Die Hard now. Yup, there is indeed a throughline between a 19th century composer and a 20th century action film.
Classical music is like musical poetry, and as I’ve mentioned, poetry hits me on a different level, and therefore, classical music hits me on a different level than regular music. It blows my mind that human beings can make such beautiful sounds from instruments and then arrange those sounds into something so pleasing to the ear.
Humans are pretty cool, huh?
Goodness that’s beautiful. I’d never heard this rendition before, and she plays it with such passion and heart.
And I think that’s the other thing that gets me about these famous composers: Hundreds of years later, their music lives on, immortal. Beautiful music is timeless. Beauty is timeless. Imagine being able to create something so profound that generations of other human beings, like a ginger in the year 21st century, connects with it. That’s an achievement that’s hard to wrap my brain around. Gah!
What do you think? Are you into classical music, and if so who, and which pieces do you like from them? I’m always looking for more to listen to! Beyond the piano, I love the violin and the harp!