A Very Personal Introduction to Classical Music
In my late teens and twenties, it was my turn to hate The World that I felt so disconnected from. All of the eighties pop stars who seemed too jolly for my emotional turmoil. I had my hair scraped back and my fake Ray Bans on. I had a long dark green trench-coat from the Army Surplus Shop and a look on my face that said “I’m too cool to be spoken to”.
I had my CD Walkman and a headful of conversations that I needed to dissect for deeper meaning. I wasn’t carrying around a boom-box like a briefcase with disco music at full blast. However, I wanted everybody to know that I was having a good time inside my headphones. I was playing super-cool tunes and nodding my head as I strutted to Woolworth. 🎧
Unfortunately, as much as I like Blondie, Debbie Harry’s voice is not conducive to finding my inner peace. I couldn’t concentrate with “I’m Gonna Love You Too” interrupting my thoughts. It was also very inconvenient to stop in the middle of the high street and change my CD for another one that I had in my overcoat pocket. In my head, I was like Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider; wearing a canvas duster and getting ready to draw. However, in reality there was a lot of blundering around and extracting one CD whilst trying to load a new disc – a lot of faff which often required the use of a public bench.
Classical music sounded better to me the more times I heard it and therefore, I didn’t need to change the disc so often. I found that the violins could reach a note that would lift me out of any funky spell that I had fallen into. They swirled around my head and my step became lighter as I completed my errands through town. Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor accompanied me while I carried out postmortems on my life. They shook me out of it and opened the gateway to a lifetime’s enjoyment of centuries-old composers.
There was a resurgence of interest in classic music in the 1980’s and this was reflected in television adverts. My favourites were Hamlet Cigars (Bach’s Air on a G String), Old Spice (Carl Orff, Carmina Burana) and Tweed Perfume (Beethoven’s 6th Symphony “Pastoral”). The plan is for the Lotus Eaters’ Cafe in Stoke on Trent to play a variety of music including Rock, Pop, Classical, Blues and Jazz and for it to be a cool place to chill out, purchase and listen to music; some that will be familiar, others that may inspire new interests.
My mood doesn’t have to be maudlin to enjoy a bit of Chopin or Strauss’ Trout Quintet. I’m grateful to these ditties for getting me through university. I could shut out all internal and external noise and focus, however reluctantly, on the task at hand. I will often find myself humming opera music including a snippet from Bizet’s Carmen or Verdi’s La Traviata. I haven’t got a clue what they’re singing about and I will never claim to be an expert but I do enjoy the melody.
I would suggest to anyone looking for a way of getting into any new genre, go for it. Try something new and different and enjoy!