If you look, you can find thought-provoking ideas everywhere. For example, the May 2019 issue of National Geographic which has a sketch of Leonardo da Vinci on the cover has this little gem in Claudia Kalb’s article on the great master:
“Leonardo ranked music as second only to painting, higher even than sculpture, describing it as ‘figurazione delle cose invisibili,’ the shaping of the invisible.” Claudia Kalb, National Geographic, May 2019, pg. 92.
This quotation spoke to me. Isn’t that just what great music does? Regardless of the genre? Doesn’t music that speaks to your heart, your mind, your very soul perform its magic by putting something that perhaps you haven’t really formulated into words into melody and harmony? Don’t those lines of music, that particular harmony go to a place within and find there its corresponding chord? And that, my friends, is the reason we leave our everyday lives to witness and enjoy that unique pleasure that is music.
Take a minute to join me in a little meditation on how music works on us. First, perhaps, is association. There is a song performed by the blind tenor, Andrea Boticelli, that from its opening bars brings to mind a remarkable memory of a dear person who has passed away. I always associate that song with him and it always goes straight to my heart. Then there’s memory: sometimes I hear a passage of music that I can’t quite place until I realize that it’s something I learned to play on the piano when I was a child. And of course, there’s just pleasure with no apparent connection to our memories. Sometimes I hear something for the first time and it’s just so pleasurable that I smile and make a mental note to try to find a recording. Music has the power to conjure, just as Leonardo said. Conjure what? Colors, scenes, places, desires, ceremonies; I would love to know what it conjured for Leonardo, wouldn’t you?
Music has the power to conjure, just as Leonardo said. Conjure what? Colors, scenes, places, desires, ceremonies; I would love to know what it conjured for Leonardo, wouldn’t you?
Music is also a pathway to understanding. You might never have thought about or really understood the horror that was Stalin, but when you hear Shostokovich’s Symphony No. 9, you will understand not only the courage of the composer but also the terror he endured. If you want to understand and even visualize the 18th Century world of Vivaldi, you must listen to his music. Think about the court of Versailles: the rustle of satin, the scent of pomanders, the elaborate wigs – and the music of Jean-Baptiste Lully, the composer who, along with Moliére, created the Comédie ballet. Too exotic? How about understanding the 1960’s? Can’t be done without the music of the Beatles.
I hope this just-ended five-concert SACMS season struck that corresponding chord in you. And I invite you to join us for our 2019-2020 season which begins October 6th, 2019, with Apollo’s Fire. Come enrich your musical vocabulary, strike your memory chords, stir your heart.
Happy summer to all our friends!
– E Doyle