Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 3:15:24 AM
When I was in kindergarten, my mother asked me if I would like to play the violin. I simply thought that playing an instrument just like my grandfather would be fun. At the time I did not know it, but I was developing a love for music. By the time I entered fourth grade, it was obvious that I loved music. My cousin and I had joined a small youth orchestra together. It was during this time that my mother brought me the most inspirational book I have read: "7oo Years of Classical Treasures" by Jaime Almeida. This unique book combines writing about classical music history, art, and eight CDs of the music. As a young elementary student, I was amazed by the variety of music found among the pages of the book from the middle ages to the twentieth century. I cannot say that I enjoyed all of the music at the time; it took several years to develop a taste for the Gregorian chants from the 1300s. Nevertheless, I was fascinated by all the music and the composers. I read each of the composers' short biographies while listening to their music, trying to establish a connection between a name, life, and sound. I began going to the public library almost religiously to borrow the maximum ten CDs, normally about fifteen hours of music. I listened to every recording of Mendelssohn, Bach, Mozart, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saëns, and Brahms. I begged my parents for a stereo for Christmas in order to play all the music in my room. My life was immersed in classical music, and I loved it.
Despite this love for music, I felt a bit isolated from my peers. I felt that I could not subscribe to the culture's interest in the popular music. I found no pleasure in listening to a repetitive song about something about which I would never care. I did not and still do not enjoy the music blasted from huge speakers in the quad. My love for classical music was shared by very few. For a time, it seemed as though only my music teachers, mother, and cousin understood my obsession. Not even my father really valued classical music. At times I felt alone and sad that my interests seemed incompatible with those of the people I met at school. I loved "700 Years" and the happiness it brought me, but I began to hate the way it had separated me from others. In high school I finally found friends who loved classical music the same way I did. I felt relief to be able to be taken seriously when I talked about the phrasing in a recording of Tchaikovsky's "Symphony No. 4" or about the life of Mozart. Although there are certainly other books and recordings I enjoy very much, I still come back to "700 Years of Classical Treasures" for its inspiring words and music frequently, remembering where it has led me and thinking about where it might take me.