Monday, March 21, 2005

Happy Birthday, Bach!

Johann Sebastian Bach was born on this day 320 years ago. In honor of his birthday WQXR played my favorite Brandenburg concerto (No. 5) this morning as I was driving to work. What a nice way to brighten up the ugly, damp day!

It's always fun when you're listening to the classical station and they announce a piece that you know really well.

This concerto is special to me because it was the very first piece of music I listened to in my very first college-level music class. This was before I even considered becoming a music major; it was simply a required core class. I walked into "Music Hum" and sat in a front seat next to a nice looking girl (who ended up becoming a close friend). Unbeknownst to us we had picked one of the most auspicious sections for the course as our professor turned out to be Prof. Elaine Sisman. She walked into the class in her very sophisticated manner, did not say a word, and simply turned on the music. We listened to the first movement and by the end of it I couldn't help but feel deeply moved. It was the perfect beginning to what turned out to be one of the greatest learning experiences in my entire college career. By the end of the course little old me was able to identify composers, styles, and individual pieces from all eras. I was able to talk (at least semi) intelligently about elements of music. This pivotal class was the impetus for my changing my major to music at the end of that semester. And it all started with Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5.

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