Near 500 Words: Treat Yourself to a Year of Wonder in 2019

Year of Wonder: Classical Music to Enjoy Day By Day by Clemency Burton-Hill Published by Harper-Collins 2018

I came to “classical” music late. It was the early 1980s and I was dissatisfied with much of the music I was hearing. I’d loved rock ‘n’ roll and I’d loved folk music. There wasn’t much coming round the bend that I cared for.

In the past, I had avoided “classical” music the way I avoided Shakespeare. Like the plague. The fans of “classical” music drove me away by their devotion to this artist or that artist playing this composer or that composer. So-and-so had mastered Chopin but Such-and-such couldn’t play Shostakovich worth a hill of dirt. Only they wouldn’t say, “Hill of dirt.” What did I know about “classical” music other than I had heard it as the soundtrack of cartoons I grew up with?

Then I found myself being drawn to the Philips series “Set Your Life to Music” and CDs like “Bach for Breakfast,” “Baroque at Bathtime” and “Beethoven for Book Lovers.” They seemed to be saying, “Try this. It won’t hurt.” It was a way into the music without being scared off. The more of the CDs I listened to the more I liked the music. I ended up purchasing something like ten CDs from the series. This led me to a series of Adagio CDs put out by Decca that included “Baroque Adagios,” “Romantic Adagios,” and “Mozart’s Adagios”

During this time, I also saw Milos Forman’s film of “Amadeus.” Though it’s a fictional take on the life of Mozart, it humanizes the great man and took him out of the clouds and brought him down to earth where the rest of us mortals live. The best part of the movie was the soundtrack. The music was intertwined into the film to make the music accessible. Then I found a book that was helpful. The Vintage Guide to Classical Music: An Indispensable Guide for Understanding and Enjoying Classical Music by Jan Swafford was an excellent field guide.

This journey led me to find wonderful musicians, playing some of the most beautiful music ever produced by mortals: Joshua Bell, Carol Rosenberger and Barbara Bonney’s performance of Schubert’s Lieder. When John Adams’ “On the Transmigration of Souls” honoring the 9/11 victims was released, I purchased it and was deeply moved by Adams’ tribute.

Recently I was in Barnes and Noble and rummaging among the books on music when my eyes stumbled upon Year of Wonder by the musician, columnist and novelist Clemency Burton-Hill. Each day of the year she gives a suggested composition. The suggestions range from the earliest compositions to the most recent. Even if you have a background in “classical” music, you might just find some surprises. If you don’t have the background, this is wonderful way to expose yourself to some great music.

If there’s one thing I learned about “classical” music, it is this. “Classical” music is like rock ‘n’ roll or country or rap or jazz or whatever music we listen to. There are those pieces of music I am going to love and there are those I won’t care for.

So dip your toes into the river we call “classical” music and try it. You  might just find some pieces you’ll like, and maybe even love. Make 2019 a year of wonder.

Here’s today’s selection:

 

 

 

 

The Uncle Bardie Plan for New Year’s Resolutin’

To resolution or not to resolution. That is the $64,000 question.

Every New Year’s we sit down and make a list of all those bad behaviors we don’t like about ourselves. Or all those things we want to do. Then we resolve to do something about what’s on the list. That becomes our New Year’s Resolution List.

Like aiming for perfect, that is an exercise in frustration. Deep down we already know we probably won’t succeed with any of them.

As soon as we break them, it’s Humpty Dumpty all over again. Once you break that egg, there ain’t no way you’re going to put it back together again. You won’t be able to find all the pieces. And you’re left with nothing but a bad taste in your mouth.

So here’s Uncle Bardie’s Cure for New Year’s Resolution-itis. Goals.

When you set a Goal, you put a time on it. Then you come up with a strategy to achieve it. If you don’t achieve it by that time, you re-evaluate. Then re-set.

Example: I resolve to write every day in 2017. Then I miss one day. Man, what a bummer. Since I broke my resolution, I give up on the plan. If it had been a goal, my response would be, “No biggie, I will just keep trying.” Then I pick myself up and write the first thing the next morning. Miss the resolution, there’s guilt. Miss the goal, remind myself it was a goal and keep on trying. That’s the Uncle Bardie Way.