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January 22, 2011

Music -- the solitary remedy to heal a hurt soul !!

Let me start by asking a trivia - What United Europe long before the EU ?


Well the answer is rather simple -- Opera !! From the medieval times (11-1200 AD) it was the Operas & the Symphonies created by some of the most gifted Composers, the World had ever seen, that united otherwise a very divided continent. Opera is an art form in which Opera singers (Called Divas & Divos and on vocal range further classified into Soprano, Alto, Baritone, Tenor, Bass, Mezzo-Soprano)and musicians (Performing on Piano,Violin, Viola, Cello,double bass, flutes, piccolos, clarinets, oboes, bassoon, trumpets, bass trombone, french horn and in recent times - percussion & keyboards)perform a dramatic work combining text (called a libretto) and musical score (symphony)both written by a Composer. Opera is part of the Western classical music tradition. Acting, dramatization & eleborate stage sets came later in the 20th century.


The Great Classical Composers from the Medieval to the Modern times have found admiration across Europe infact many had more admirers & followers in other countries than their own.It was only the power of Music that could have bridged the rifts otherwise caused by language barriers in Europe. As inspite of the operas being written in Latin, Italian, French or German they were widely performed & applauded across Europe. Greatest Composers : above, from left, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Mozart, Schoenberg, Haydn, and Stravinsky; below, from left, Schumann, Brahms, Schubert, Handel, Bach, and Debussy.



And all these illustrious names fascinated me since School days, but not having even elementary knowledge in workings of the Western Classical music, I could never fully appreciate any symphony. Four Seasons - a composition by Vivaldi performed by Ithzak Perlman & London Philharmonic Orchestra was my first exposure to Western Classical during school days. And even now I enjoy listening to Four Seasons immensely it is timeless musical composition You tube - Video (It is made of 12 different violin sonatas each depicting a different season - the video below one is my favourite - Summer Presto) .In case you want to explore all the 12 pieces of the symphony check this link - Four Seasons




To overcome my musical illiteracy I even attended a concert at the Hollywood Bowl in LA (Sep 09) to see the LA Philaharmonic perform live. But without prior education one can enjoy any Classical music but not fully appreciate it. Ditto for Indian Classical music, without any knowledge of the "ragas" you can enjoy it but not appreciate it holistically.

So I was quite delighted to read an article on the best composers of the Western Classical genre on the NY Times recently. The Greatest

It has made a valiant effort in trying to explain how to appreciate Western Classical music & hoping that this education will certainly help. But in this process I stumbled upon the best symphony I had ever heart Bach's B Min Mass About this symphony someone has rightly said ---- "Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass?".

As I continue on the path of musical discovery would end with a verse by the English poet William Cowper "There is in souls a sympathy with sounds: And as the mind is pitch'd the ear is pleased With melting airs, or martial, brisk or grave; Some chord in unison with what we hear Is touch'd within us, and the heart replies." I love Indian Classical music as well, but our music is distinctly different as the emphasis is on individual - instruments & musicians and not on the entire orchestra or opera. Therefore both Indian & Western Classical have their special place in my Soul.
Enjoy the Summer Presto by Vivaldi & B Min Mass by Bach and the Music score of the Opening credits of the best documentary ever made - People's Centry, composed by Zbigniew Preisner.
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Disclaimer : Picture of the greatest composers in from NY Times article. In several places I have borrowed the text from Wikipedia & Videos from Youtube.

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