Having fortunately been exposed to the sound at a young age, I have always loved classical music. My friend Tim is a devotee and we attended many memorable concerts together.
But there have been many long “dry” periods when I turned to other sorts of music which I also love in a totally different way.
Each time I go back to classical, I ask myself how I can have deprived myself for such a long time.
It’s a good question.
There is the joy of re-discovery.
Except that the sounds have never been forgotten. They just need re-awakening and then I cannot get enough.
It has been decades since I went to a concert but now we have the great benefit of YouTube.
Some modern luxuries are truly a gift.
Classical music was always my inspiration because as I listened, images unfolded. When my father chose Tchaikovsky, I closed my eyes and saw myself dancing in the corps de ballet.
With Dvorak’s #9, I could see the sweeping plains of America. I pictured myself galloping on a horse there, in that vast and beautiful land.
Sometimes I just wanted to dance. Sometimes I did. Not that anyone would have recognised it as dance. I had abandoned ballet classes, bored because I didn’t want to learn all those elementary steps.
No, I wanted to be on my points!
A friend of my mother’s had encouraged her to enroll me in the classes, but I think Mum was relieved when I expressed no interest. I was severely asthmatic, so that was the excuse for my withdrawal.
My mother’s friend was ten or so years older than she. My brother and I called her Aunty May. She had met my mother in London during the War in which she had lost everything. That war made special friendships.
Aunty May had been well connected. I believe her life was quite a story, but I only know the tiniest bits. She never complained about her reduced circumstances and she seemed to take joy in many little things.
May took up work as a ladies companion, basically looking after elderly women, which she was obliged to do until she herself was quite old.
As a little girl, I found Aunty May fussy in the way that kids feel about older relatives. But I remember her once taking me to a park. It had been snowing and she showed me how animals make tracks. She bent down and made marks in the snow with her mitten. I can still see her smiling face as she did it.
We left England in 1956 and I only saw Aunty May once afterwards, many years later, but she wrote to me frequently and as I grew up I realised that she was a good friend. It was she who offered advice when I had my first experience with boys. She was the only person I thought I could ask.
When I got travel benefits from my airline job, I went to visit May in Edinburgh where she was living in one room of a shared residence.
She was still the same, still smiling and she seemed so pleased to see me. I think she had been concerned about my brother and I but maybe particularly me because I was younger and female. We were the children she didn’t have.
How I have wished I could have had a chance to get to know that lovely lady properly! She had so much to offer. So much that I needed.
This is perhaps why I often go for long periods without classical music. It is so passionate and it makes me terribly emotional.
Then I remember things that make me sad.
It doesn’t hurt to let it out once in a while but when you are by nature a melancholy person, you need to put the cap back on pretty fast.