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Confessions of a Classical Music Junky

Bedrich Smetana

It is my sincerest wish that this article finds you well.

I have found out that I have phases when it comes to music. I have a Korn phase. I have a Country Music phase. And yes..I have a DISCO phase too. Basically, my phases are music that I like but don’t frequently listen to. And yes, I have a classical phase. But I do not, nor have I ever had, an opera phase. And thank Yaweh for that. Right now, a serious Classical music phase has taken its’ hold. And temptation has lost all control.

Time for a backstory….

During my youth, there was always some music being played on the phonograph at home, especially during dinner. My Father always played Johnny Cash-Live at Folsom Prison. My Mother was a stone-cold Elvis fan. Albeit, my parents were too square to get into the rock after The Beatles. And on occasion, my father would play classical music. To my young mind, this music hit me harder than the oldies but goodies. There was more emotion in this music. The highs were euphoric. The lows moved me to sobs. My father was surprised when I requested that he play more of those “zingy zing-zing songs”. It was those “zingy zing-zing songs” that made me realize at an early age that music meant something to me.

After I reached puberty, classical music lost its’ magical hold. Classical? Pleggh! I couldn’t stand to hear those pussy-ass strings! Give me KISS or give me death! Then punk rock happened. It was all aggression and it was loud. Punk Rock didn’t care if you had studied the oboe or the cello your whole life. All punk rock demanded from you is that you had a pulse and were not happy with the status quo. And I could not get enough of it.

As I aged, there was a void in my musical soul. I kept my emotions on lockdown. Thrash metal was raging in my ears. Moshing was in my legs. One day, as I walked home after work, I passed by this apartment with a street-level open window. So sweet was the music coming out of said window. It was soul-stirring and mournful. I realized then the music was classical and how much I missed it at that point. I stayed for the remainder of the piece and hoped the occupant didn’t think I was a peeping tom.

But I don’t want to take up too much time in the past.

Right now, if a person asked me who my favorite classical composer, I would tell them without hesitation, Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884). My favorite classical music piece would be The Moldau (Ma Vlast). This piece is named after a river in The Czech Republic. And is the undeclared national anthem of said country.

The Moldau starts in silence for a few beats. It starts to perk up like a bubbling spring. The spring melds with a creek and the piece gets moving…..AAAHHGGGHHH! I almost went into a vast, wordy description of the piece. I can guarantee that it would have been absolute crap. Instead, I’ll write about how The Moldau makes me feel.

I am no John Eliot Gardiner. Speaking of, if you should ever feel the need to read the definitive biography of Johannes Sebastian Bach, please read: Bach-Music in The Castle of Heaven. Even if you have zero inkling towards classical music, you will like this book. The author can make the reader feel every sentence. Complete with exhaustive research, this is must-read musical history.

But I digress and thusly get back to the main thesis..Ahem..

A few years ago, I copped a Time-Life Classical Music compendium at the local Saint Vincent de Paul for a paltry sum of $4 for 6 LP’s, I brought it home and played it. All the other pieces and parts from Eastern European operas didn’t do anything for me. But when The Moldau came on, the world stopped for yours truly for exactly 12:03.

When the melody hits, it is a supernatural experience. The listener yearns to be thrust into that melody forever. That melody that allows a mortal soul to mingle with the Gods themselves. That melody is the very thing that compels us to keep on going, even when we have zero reason to do so. That melody never gets old or tiresome. And once you’ve heard it, you can never get it out of your head. Like the bass intro of Hand of Doom by Black Sabbath. But way classier.

Before I called myself a musician or wanted to pick up an instrument, I never used to think about the fact that whatever song (Be it Paranoid Android or Rock Around the Clock.) I was listening to was created by an individual or a group of individuals. Individuals who were focused on their goal and applying their talents towards the end result. Now I do. And that makes everything more unique and mind blowing. There was only one Led Zeppelin. There is only one Get Dead. And yes, there was only one Bedrich Smetana.

Bedrich Smetana. Just a man who channeled the music that he heard in his head and created this wonderful thing. Most likely, he put a lot of work into his creation by burning the midnight oil and such. What was the reward? Music that the human race still wants to hear long after his demise. Music that captivates a listener enough to make him create something. It’s amazing when you think about art from that perspective, isn’t it?

Now I’m done.

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