In the following lines, I will write about how to fully enjoy music. It may sound pretty arrogant, I know, but ask you a few minutes of your precious time to read what I have you to tell. I promise you won’t regret it.
As a classical musician who grew up in a non musical ambient, I have a lot of friends who know next to nothing about classical music. “Classical music is boring!” I heard it often and after a few minutes, people who say that usually confess that they have never really listened to it. In my opinion, it is a shame that centuries of wonderful music are so underrated because of commonplace prejudices. All my non musician friends I brought to attend a classical concert or recital were amazed by the music. None of them regret going to those concerts. So I reached a conclusion: Classical “academic” music is not popular only because people do not know what it actually is.
But once we know that, we get to the next problem: if we don’t know anything about that music and that world, how do we know what we have to pay attention to when we listen to classical music? That is a very important question when we approach a genre of music we are not acquainted with, and it also works for music from other cultures or any kind of art we aren’t used to. Why was that created? As curiously clever people, when we find something we don’t know about, we should try to understand it. As clever listeners, we also should try it. In fact, looking for new and different things is always good, so we can learn about ourselves, the world and the human being in general. So we can sit comfortably without worrying about music and art, and only listen to what mainstream offers, or we can stand up and say, “Hey! I want to look for other kinds of music and find out what I really want!” If you choose the second option, I will be very pleased to help you to understand any kind of music by bringing you the keys to listen and understand music as a professional musician does, thus expanding your sound experience in ways you would never have thought possible.
Our musical trip starts with the Spanish Capriccio, composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. It is very easy to find on internet, on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, etc. It is a relatively short work for orchestra, in which the composer uses Spanish themes to create this wonderful piece. Let me introduce Rimsky-Korsakov to you: He is a Russian composer of the 19th century, known for being the best orchestrator of his time. He fully mastered the orchestral writing, and he uses every instrument in the correct time, for the correct purpose. And this music, the Spanish Capriccio, is actually a treatise on orchestration itself. When we listen to it we should pay attention to the role of every instrument in the orchestra.
The first step to fully enjoy it is to close our eyes and concentrate on our ears. While the colorful Spanish music begins, we will start to hear some details. The different timbres perfectly combined by Rimsky-Korsakov, the different textures, the brave moments, the calm ones. Every time you listen you will discover a new detail, a new light, a new color, and every listening session will be different and new! I could fill pages and pages talking about this piece, but I think it is better if you listen to it and find your own conclusions. Personally, I like the Zubin Mehta version.
Once you have listened, you are free to choose: give up and never listen to classical music again or start thinking classical music it is not as boring as people say and surf the internet to find out why Rimsky-Korsakov wrote this piece because you were amazed by the music and you want to know something else about it. If you choose one of the two last options, I recommend you listen to Scherezade (also by Rimsky-Korsakov), In the Steppes of Central Asia (Borodin). There are many other orchestral compositions you will surely enjoy. Today we have opened a door which can lead us to many different worlds, so let’s walk further into it!