Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Music to "Inform the Soul"

Gabe and I are finishing up another wonderful symphony season this week. I’ve been lucky to have been exposed to classical music throughout my life, but this passion for the genre has come within the last two years. Honestly, I still feel largely ignorant about the composers, their works, and the different forms. I’m sure we’re among the youngest set of season subscribers. It makes us feel like we’re part of a very exclusive and interesting club with its own language and terminology.

One thing that makes the symphony more enjoyable is attending the pre-performance lectures. This last weekend there was a guest conductor named Larry Rachleff who spoke eloquently and passionately about how classical music is able to reach our deepest emotions. His lecture was fairly spiritual and he concluded by telling the audience how one of the best things they could do for their lives would be to listen to Bach every day for at least 10-15 minutes. He declared passionately that Bach’s music would “inform the soul,” and enhance your entire life. Don’t you just love this idea? Not just about Bach, but about music “informing the soul?”

Here are a few of the pieces that have “informed” my soul this last year:

• Holst: “The Planets,” the Mars movement is my favorite. I can even listen to this piece while I run because it makes me feel like I’m about to march into battle!

• Rachmaninov: “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini,” You can easily find the familiar and gushing 18th variation on itunes, but I recommend the entire piece.

• Vaugh Williams: “The Lark Ascending,” just plain beautiful!

• Orff: “Carmina Burana,” just plain thrilling and fun! You’ll recognize the opening and closing because it has been in all the NBA playoff commercials. Listen to the whole piece for joyful ditties celebrating the return of spring and the pleasures of the senses.


Himni said...

Mars is my favorite movement, too, though Jupiter is also very good. Vaughn Williams is also a favorite among modern composers, though I'm not familiar with that piece. But nothing beats Bach, in my mind.

WendyandGabe said...

Any Bach recommendations? Or other pieces I should know?