Classical music — some adore it, others hate it. But what about the rest of us, who didn’t grow up with pianos or violins in our houses but who are willing to give good sounds a chance? Can’t we mix classical music with some rock and punk and get away with it? I think that we not only can, but that we should.
Some people are born in an environment where classical music is held in high esteem. They have a piano in the house, or at least a violin. They are bred on it and it becomes a part of their lives. The rest of us grow up with MTV instead and the randomness of local rock concerts. This doesn’t mean that it’s only their music, or that you have to be an intellectual to go classical.
I remember once being in a romantic setting with a girl who adored music in general, but did not care an eyelash for classical music. I somehow got her to listen to Eric Satie’s Gnossienne No. 1: Lent one evening with her eyes closed, more as a challenge than anything else, and that magical bit of piano led us with the sweet boldness of its notes and their elusive flights into one of the most intense kisses on this side of the moon.
More than a romantic backdrop, classical music invites relaxation and can even provide emotional therapy. There are even studies which show that classical music, notably Mozart’s sonatas, improves cognitive performance. More than providing relaxation, classical music can help you work more productively.
I can’t always make the difference between Schumann and Schubert, and I’m not going to lie that I can remember the complicated titles (often in French, Italian, or some other language) of every sonata or improptu I like, and don’t even ask me to explain the scales. But that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of classical music, and on many days, it is the perfect accompaniment to the quiet and serenity not only of the world around me, but of my inner self.
Classical music is something anyone of us can enjoy, regardless of age or music education, if we open ourselves to it. Whatever genre you prefer, however remote it is from classical music, it shouldn’t stop you from discovering this other side of music.
Classic music is there for anyone to enjoy. We only have to make a small effort to discover it. It’s like talking to a stranger we don’t know and making friends with him or her. The pleasures classic music unravels are slow ones, and its long-drawn delights are different from the emotional highs (or lows) that contemporary music give us (all genres included). That’s what makes it special, and beautiful.
Classical music can be a treat for the open-minded and the patient. Yes, the patient, because in our day and age, classical music is an act of patience. It sings to us without words, and so we have to listen to it not only with our ears, but with our presence.
If you don’t listen to classical music already, I invite you to try at least once, as a new experience. A good way to start is to listen to it while you use your computer.
What’s your relationship to classical music? Do you have a favorite piece or composer that will delight our ears?