Thursday, June 11, 2009

Nordlinger on Listening to the Great Composers

Music critic Jay Nordlinger offers his music suggestions in his latest Impromptus article. Here's how he starts:
There is plenty to read about music — plenty of good books, and articles. But music isn’t really meant to be written or read about. (How’s that from a music critic!) It’s meant to be played, listened to, composed. I suggest that people listen to some things — an assortment of music. Just dip in. If you like something, seek out more from that composer — listen to him, read about him, etc. Feel your way along. Embark on discovery.

I have always resisted giving a reading list, or a listening list, rather. Such lists are bound to be fairly random, and feeble, and cheesy. Some of us have been immersed in music forever. How could we possibly begin? It is like confronting grains of sand on a beach. And the beach is all of music, music as a totality.

But I’ll jot a little list — suggested listening. This will be just kind of a starter kit — some initial suggestions. And would you do me a favor? I hate to sound like a jerk, but please don’t write me to tell me what I have missed. I know what I have missed, full well, perhaps better than you. (Sorry to be a jerk again!) I simply feel the need to respond to this FAQ. The music question comes up with persistence. And, till now, I have basically said, “Listen to some stuff! Particularly by the great composers. Just dive in, or dip in.”

Today, I will not discuss performances — that is, I will not recommend recordings. That is for another day, or book, or whatever. The important thing, now, is the music — an acquaintance with music. It matters not where the music comes from. Get something cheap, borrow something, attend something — whatever. Okay, here goes.
Read the whole thing.