My First Classical Music

How Classical Music Changed my Life

When I was a teenager, I remember listening to popular music and waiting around for something I liked. I listened to the radio night after night, wondering what all the fuss about music was about. Then, one day I was browsing through the $1 bins at some department store, and ran across an eight-track tape (yes, I’m that old) of Dietrich Buxtehude’s music. I had no clue who Dietrich Buxtehude was, or what Buxtehude’s music was like, but some inner impulse told me to buy it, and fortunately, I listened. When I got it home and put my newly-acquired Buxtehude tape in the eight-track player, I was transported. This was the music I had been waiting for my entire life!

The first thing I thought was, “Does everyone else know about this? If so, why had they been keeping this music from me?”

I had no idea that Buxtehude was Johann Sebastian Bach’s teacher, or anything about him. All I knew was that this was the kind of music I wanted to hear. But a little reading quickly pointed me towards Bach and his sons, towards the Italian baroque masters such as Vivaldi, and that great German-born citizen of the world, Georg Friderich Haendel. I was hooked on early music, and when my chosen career fizzled out at the age of 22, I knew that performing early music was what I had wanted to do all my life. I ended up with a career in opera, specializing in Baroque music, and I have not regretted my choice one single day. I have my dream career and I have that $1 bin at the department store, and my old eight-track player to thank for originally pointing me in exactly the right direction!

Some years ago, I was volunteering at the library, and a young man about thirty years younger than me started to chat me up. He asked me what I did, and I told him I was a musician, specializing in early music. “You mean like the Beatles?” he asked. I said I did earlier music than the Beatles. He asked, “Like Sinatra?” I explained that I concentrated on music from 1300 A.D. to 1750 A.D. “Dang!” he replied. “They had music back then?”

Please don’t fall into the same trap that this young man had . . . he knew only his own music and a little of his parents’ music, but nothing else. Take the time and explore some classical music for yourself. You’ll be amazed at how much of it you actually like, and better yet, you will see improved health and well-being just from listening to classical music! If you don’t like Buxtehude (and he’s clearly not everyone’s cup of tea), try other classical music. In a thousand years, and hundreds of thousands of pieces of music, surely you will find something you love!

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