Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The ages of man

I've always liked classical music, even as a pre-teen. However, my tastes have evolved as I have aged.

  • Before age 14 my favorite era was Baroque. Bach was my favorite composer (for example, the Brandenburg Concertos). The patterns and dissonant tension were thrilling to my precocious ears.

  • When I was in high school and college my favorite composer was Mozart. Mozart embodied a kind of genius that captivated me. Mozart is the ultimate smarty pants (but in a good way). I also found some of his music profoundly moving (for example, the Horn Concertos). I got into opera at this time of my life, and the Mozart operas (The Magic Flute and the incomparable Marriage of Figaro) led the way.
  • (Yes, I was a 16-year-old opera fan. Once on a school trip to Paris, I was able to sneak away by myself to the old Paris Opera and hear Jon Vickers sing Otello.)

  • I came out in my late twenties, at age 27 or 28. At about this time my musical tastes began to change again. Although I had always loved Beethoven (especially the symphonies and his chamber music), at this time of my life I became taken over by the passion and emotion of the Romantic era of music. I was unable to concentrate on anything else if Beethoven happened to be playing in the background. Not surprisigly it was during this period that I fell in love for the first time.

  • In my late thirties and early forties, I developed a new passion: Wagner. This appeal of this composer is hard to characterize. He's transcendent. The music of Wagner is a replacement for a belief in God (okay, not really, but you get what I mean). My favorite opera of all time is his Tristan und Isolde. This is definitely a work that you don't understand until you reach midlife. It has passions and tensions that go beyond description.

I don't know why I was thinking about this today. No reason really. It's a funny observation, though, that the evolution of my taste in music follows the chronology of music history pretty well. (Of course, I'm leaving a lot out. There are many, many composers whose work I love, and even now Bach is one of my favorites.)

I do think, and this may sound weird, that I would never have been able to open myself up to Beethoven (and Wagner) if I had not had the experience of sexual maturation that occurred only after I came out. When I was in a mixed-orientation married I was frozen in sexual immaturity. It was only after I opened myself up to the possibility of non-Platonic love that I began to understand the dynamics of our most passionate composers.


Beck said...

"...When I was in a mixed-orientation married I was frozen in sexual immaturity."

Maybe that explains why I'm still stuck on the chamber music of the Baroque era, with Bach being my favorite - though Mozart and Vivaldi are close behind... but I've never gotten into the Romantic era or later... too passionate for me. I guess like with many things, I'm frozen in time.

J G-W said...

In my teens, I adored Débussy, Musorgsky, St. Saens... In my twenties, Wagner, Sibelius, Beethoven.

Now since returning to the LDS Church I can't stop listening to Queen. My absolute, favorite music ever. I come back to it again and again and again, never get bored of it.

MoHoHawaii said...

Hey Beck!!

I think divining personality from musical tastes is like a parlor game or Tarot. It's fun but ultimately a questionable methodology.

May I suggest the Beethoven symphonies (6, 7 and 9) as a coming out exercise? :-)

P.S. You are whole, just as you are.

Hey John!!

Queen. That's soooooo SSA.

Seriously, though, I can picture you in bed with a certain M. Saint-Saëns. Do you also like Satie and Fauré?

J G-W said...

LOL. Fauré yes, Satie I'm not familiar with.

My love of Queen is the one musical taste I have in common with Glen...