Sunday, June 25, 2006
Music has threaded its way through my life, it has nourished my soul, sometimes I realised that, sometimes I didn't. It is something that I might not think about for a few days at a time, then suddenly a vast need and craving wells over me to hear and be uplifted by it. I can surface from sleep, snatches of a melody playing in my mind, anything from a tune from my youth to a snippet of a vast orchestral work. There always seems to be a piece of music that you can listen to that reflects how you feel and what is happening to you in your life at that time.
I can place music in every stage of my life. My earliest memory, is of jigging up and down, not even old enough to dance around properly, at a family gathering to a song popular at the time 'Papa Piccolina'. My father played the piano and my childhood revolves around and is interspersed with Chopin nocturnes, waltzs and mazurkas, coupled with his other great love Gilbert and Sullivan light operas, which I would stand by the piano and sing whilst he played. I can still sing along with these word perfectly if I hear them now, many years later. For eight years I had piano lessons, which I thoroughly enjoyed, with a strict but wonderful music teacher, whose death coupled with teenage truculence, led me to abadoning the instrument. I was told I would regret it, I had won a cup in a local festival and was passing my music exams with flying colours, but heyho I was young and rebellious, so who cares. If I am truthful, I do now, but in retrospect, who could tell your younger self, that because life, to that self is long and there is plenty of time, but how quickly that time flies, and suddenly it is maybe too late to go back for various reasons.
Then there is the music of youth, which can transport you back to a specific time and still give you a rush when you hear those tunes. The last family holiday we all had together, me lying on an English beach 'Yellow Submarine' by The Beatles blaring from my transistor radio that was constantly by me; end of year school dance, finishing with Procul Haram's 'Whiter Shade of Pale'; standing at a music festival soaked to the skin grooving to the Grateful Dead's 'Trucking' and 'Sugar Magnolia'.
There are musical delights that you unexpectedly come across such as walking into a quiet cathedral to look at the architecture and coming upon the organist practising a Bach tocata and fugue that surges and fills the vast space, or walking on a summer night and hearing a violin sonata wending its way out of open windows into the night. There is music that to me is quintessentially English and could be written by no other nationality, like Vaughan Williams, 'Lark Ascending', a piece that restores me if I am sad and always lifts my soul. How can I explain why I feel he is the epitome of Englishness, I can't as I can not explain why, to me, Debussy could be no other nationality than French.
Music is always part of me like breathing, some days I may not take a great deal of notice of it, but if it was not there, I would feel I was not properly alive.