Sunday, December 18, 2005

Fifteen Things About....


Yes, I'm swiping the "Fifteen Things" format, from the books and writing ones, and making one about music. This is brand new. I'm breaking totally new territory here. Blazin' a trail, all my own. Whoop!

1. The earliest music I remember hearing is my parents' record player, with stuff like the original cast album of The Music Man, some Neil Diamond and John Denver ("Song Sung Blue" and "Country Roads", to name two songs in particular), the Frank Sinatra album A Man Apart, and some old country stuff.

2. I remember really digging the song "Afternoon Delight", when I was something like two years old. Now that I know what that damn song is about, I can only imagine that my parents found this absolutely hilarious.

3. My sister, who is six years older than me, started listening to classical music at some point, probably while she was taking piano lessons. I don't remember any works, but I remember the sounds of orchestral music from her bedroom. (Coupled, later on, with groups like The Doors.)

4. The first record album I ever bought with my own money was the soundtrack to The Empire Strikes Back. I wore that old double-LP out over the next seven or eight years. I've never gotten over my love of John Williams.

5. I bought nothing but film score records until I was in high school, when rock and classical took over. Another very early film music purchase was Jerry Goldsmith's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which also led to a lifetime love of that particular composer.

6. As I note here, coming to Hector Berlioz took some work, but I love his music like no other composer now.

7. Beethoven's Symphony #9 and Rachmaninov's Symphony #2 both hit me right between the eyes.

8. My favorite rock band is either Van Halen or Pink Floyd (depending on what day you ask me).

9. My first instrument was the French horn, but I switched a year later to the cornet, and finally made the transition to the trumpet two years later. (The cornet and the trumpet are nearly the same instrument, really, so moving between them is basically a matter of whichever one you happen to pick up at any given moment.) I sucked at the trumpet for about two years, when I then decided that I didn't want to suck at it anymore, and actually started practicing. I got pretty friggin' good after that.

10. I really tried to convince myself that I could play jazz well, but I finally had to admit that I just couldn't. My ear for improv was never more than "slightly better than a rank beginner", and my temperament was far less to "jamming" than to symphonic playing.

11. With all due respect to Haydn and Hummel, my favorite concerto for the trumpet is Arutunian's. Of the works I actually got to perform, my favorite trumpet parts were for the opening movement of the Mahler Symphony #5 (we had an outstanding transcription for wind ensemble in college), Hanson's Symphony #2, Bizet's suites from Carmen, and "The Trumpet Shall Sound" from Handel's Messiah. Of the works I never got to perform, my favorite trumpet parts are in Strauss's Alpensinfonie, Scriabin's Poem of Ecstasy, Saint-Saens's "Organ" Symphony, Stravinsky's Petrouchka, and the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth.

12. I fell in love with Celtic music during a chance hearing, on NPR, of "Thistle and Shamrock" back in 1990 or so. It really was pure luck.

13. People who look disparagingly at the wind ensemble (or concert band) as a viable music ensemble piss me off. If you're willing to take string quartets or piano sextets or any other combination of players seriously, then the wind ensemble shouldn't be off limits to serious musicmaking, either.

14. People who look down at film music also piss me off. Form isn't the whole ballgame, folks.

15. I hate hate hate hate hate the idea that classical music should be seen as the musical equivalent of caviar, Dom Perignon champagne, or any of the other "finer things" that should only be accessible by the elite who are capable of truly appreciating them. Given the choice between seeing Kleinhans Music Hall half-filled for a Buffalo Philharmonic concert by people in formal wear, and seeing it sold out to people in polo shirts and khakis, I'll take the latter, every time.

OK, that's that.

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