11 February 2011

Classical Cassette Tapes.

Glenn Gould image found here.

Classical Cassette Tapes.
Part One in a series of Memoirs on Music

Do you remember how grocery stores used to sell things totally un-grocery related? Maybe they still do, but I don't notice it. When I was a kid I remember randomly seeing special things like, a matching set of Christmas Dishes, or a multi-volume Encyclopedia set, or random music collections brought to you on cassette tapes.

The collection that caught my interest was cassettes of Classical composer's greatest hits. Kinda weird for a 9 or 10 year old kid from the sticks, but for some reason I had to have them. I bought a Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky tape. Who knows where I got the money for those, especially considering we were not the wealthiest of families by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe it was with birthday money, or maybe one of my grandparents forked over the cash because they thought it was a worthy purchase.

Whatever the case was, I was super excited about these cassettes. I listened to them all the time. Especially the Mozart and Beethoven ones. I memorized every little nuance in the performances, to the point where even now, when I hear a piece of music that was on one of those tapes I can tell that it is a different recording based on minor adaptations of notes and tempo.

I used to listen to them over and over, and fancy myself a little conductor, I would swing my arms and bob my head to the tempo, and act out different scenarios with my barbie dolls where they were classical musicians, and of course they were very famous and wealthy. I would pantomime piano playing, envisioning myself as some grand master piano player, when in reality I never really learned to play anything very complicated in the 5 odd years in which I took lessons off and on.

I still love classical music, and listen to it regularly. I feel very much an amateur though, my knowledge of the classical world is very small. I know I love piano sonatas, I know that much, but I really have no knowledge of who or what I like outside of Moonlight Sonata. I recently watched this incredible program on PBS about Glenn Gould (which I totally recommend watching, it's amazing), and fell in love with him. He was like, the rock star of classical musicians, he was talented, obsessive, quirky, strange, eccentric, brilliant. I fall in love with anyone that loves their craft that much.

But other than those three composers I had on cassette tape, I've really only picked up Vivaldi, Bach, and Leonard Bernstein (thanks to my love of old movies) albums since. I really need to expand my knowledge though. I owe it to my childhood self.

And now for a completely unrelated movie quote (from the hit film Empire Records)
Lucas: Warren, look what you took.
[going through the CD's that Warren stole from the store]

Lucas: Rap... metal... rap... metal... And Whitney Houston.

Warren: It's for my girlfriend, okay?

Lucas: Suuure it is. You know, someone like you needs to diminish their criminal impulses, not magnify them. Maybe some jazz or some classical.
Warren: Maybe you bite me.

So how about you, do you like classical music? Any recommendations of classical composers or musicians?

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