Saturday, September 25, 2010
First Love: Tonight We Love
On NPR, classical music fans are telling stories about the first piece of classical music that meant something to them.
Here's my story.
Before going to college, I listened exclusively to rock and to music from Broadway musicals. In my house, music was something you found on the radio. I can't remember my parents ever having a record player, but my grandfather bought me one, just a simple turntable so I could listen to the Broadway musicals I loved at ten.
Good music, which was what my parents called classical music, was not played in our house. Music was to dance to. It was background. I took it more seriously and so did my brother a few years later. Rock music, that is.
One night however, I was listening to Lawrence Welk (okay, no need to sneer) and a song came on, played by the Freddie Martin Orchestra. It was called Tonight We Love. I went out and bought a copy of it and played it incessantly.
Flash forward to 1965 when I am off to college. I take this album, along with my Beetles, Supremes, and other such groups. Not a huge selection though. I still heard most of music on the radio.
There was a girl rooming down the hall from me who was more hip than anyone else. A sort of minor league Janis Joplin who played all sorts of cool music, dressed cool, was cool. She stood out at my religious college. She was a beatnik, people said. A hippie.
To impress her with my sophisticated musical tastes, I invited her over to hear my favorite, Tonight We Love." She listened politely and then took me back to her room to share a piece of music. It was, of course, the famous concerto Tonight We Love was taken from: Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto Number One in B Minor. It was a thrilling moment. That the little dollop of music on Tonight We Love blossoming into such an amazing work.
Although I know now that piece of music is not as highly regarded as many other works, it will always be my favorite piece of music because it opened the door to so-called "good music" for me. I am not the huge fan of classical music that my husband is, but I am very content to hear it from across the hall, across the room, in the car, or sitting next to him at a concert hall.
What about you? Can you remember what turned you on to classical music if, in fact, anything did.