Sunday, January 29, 2012

In which that string quartet is stuck in my head.

It's like a romantic comedy: girl meets boy, girl hates boy, girl gets to know boy better and falls deeply in love.

Take out "boy" and add "numerous long-dead classical composers" and you've got my college music career in a nutshell. That's right folks. I never thought I'd say it, but over the last couple of semesters, I've fallen deeply in love with three dead dudes: J.S. Bach, Joseph Haydn, and W.A. Mozart.

 For years, I maintained that Bach was too complicated and calculated for me to enjoy. To all you classical music aficionados, I can only say, "I was young! I was ignorant! I had only ever played Bach Inventions, and a little bit from the Well-Tempered Klavier!" However, last year, I was introduced to (aka forced to learn) an incredible keyboard Toccata and...wow...just...wow. Shortly thereafter I discovered Bach's more awesome organ works, and just last month became enamored of his Mass in B Minor. Powerful stuff. And studying Bach in theory and history classes has absolutely blown my mind...the man was an absolute master of counterpoint. It's ridiculous. His fugues make my heart go pitter-patter.

And then, there's our friend Wolfgang. Smitten with Beethoven and his Romantic brethren, I scorned the lack of grand passion and individual expression inherent in Mozart's music. I took great pride in being the only classical musician I knew who couldn't stand Mozart. And yet...slowly, slowly...I cracked. Maybe it was learning the delicate, lovely, K. 281 piano sonata. Maybe it was seeing "Die Zauberflote" live at the Vienna State Opera or hearing the Requieum in Stephansdom. Maybe it eating Mozart-kugeln in Salzburg. Or maybe it was finally understanding enough theory to realize that composition-wise, Mozart's music is like...flawless. But somehow, in the last year, a soft spot in my heart has been carved for this man. Most days, I still prefer a good Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody or a Chopin nocturne, but when I'm in the right mood, a light, frothy Mozart sonata can hit the spot. And the Jupiter symphony just makes me want to jump and dance and tell everyone how awesome and wonderful life is.

Going into this school year, I was a little bit lost...I didn't hate Bach anymore. My loathing for Mozart had vanished. How could I be a proper music snob without hating at least one composer? So I clung tightly to my dislike of Haydn. I'm...actually not sure why. I'll be honest, I had listened to hardly any of his music, and had rashly and ignorantly given it the label of "boring". In my Form and Analysis class last semester, I had to analyze a lot of Haydn, and while listening to its still didn't impress me, analyzing it did. It always fit the form just perfectly, just how it should...except for maybe one or two chords that were completely unexpected. It started to feel like Haydn was playing with my head, messing with my expectations. And soon I felt like Haydn and I had become great friends, that he was playing these mischievous pranks on me to make me laugh. This semester in Music History, my affection for Haydn was sealed with this string quartet. I might be a complete nerd, but the ending makes me laugh every time (which I guess is why the piece is called "The Joke",) and the melody gets stuck in my head for days at a time. I love it, and I love Haydn.

And the moral of the story is: sometimes all it takes to love something is to learn more about it.

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