I often find it difficult to explain why I value certain pieces of music. Rarely will the same pieces move others in the same way they move me, yet that does not diminish their importance. Rather, in a way, I find I develop a unique relationship with the piece, a kind of camaraderie only it and I share. Take, for example, the following compositions:
First, “The Moldau”, composed by Bedřich Smetana, is considered by many to be one of the best examples of the symphonic poem. I first encountered this masterpiece during senior year of college while taking Art Appreciation to fill out my electives. Although I had enjoyed classical music since the seventh grade, I consider “The Moldau” to be the first classical piece I ever truly appreciated. I can’t say exactly what moved me that night in my dorm room as I snacked on black coffee and tortilla chips, listening to a selection of CDs rented from the music library to fulfill my outside listening requirement. I remember experiencing a sense of place, (as wine aficionados might say, terrior) and feeling the movement of the river. Even today, “The Moldau” generally moves me to tears, and I haven’t even been to the Czech Republic.
Second is Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” The obvious connection is that I’m a social studies teacher, and the song does an excellent job at conveying major events over thirty years of world history. It was also the first rock/pop song I can recall learning. However, there’s a much more personal importance to the song. It’s one of the few things that brought my sister and me together. As most siblings do, we disagreed on almost everything throughout most of my childhood (she’s eight years older than I am). However, there are two songs I remember us singing to: Garth Brooks’ “Ireland” and Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” In fact, my sister is the one who introduced me to the song and helped me learn the lyrics. She and I and her then boyfriend listened to it over and over and over again one summer at the Wayne County Fair. It’s one of my fondest memories.
Finally, there’s “Theme from Jurassic Park” composed by John Williams. Jurassic Park was the first movie I was ever allowed to stay up late and watch on TV. I loved it. I still consider it tied for first on my all-time favorite movies list (the first is the Godfather trilogy). This score is the theme of my childhood. It captures the grandeur and majesty and wonder and curiosity of all things new. I often hear it in my head when inspiration strikes or when something momentous occurs. It is, in my mind, the best score ever composed for a movie. Yes, even better than the haunting trombone opening to Godfather or the terror-inducing bum-bum, bum-bum, bum-bum-bum-bum-bum-bum of Jaws.
Music moves us in ways nothing else can. Which pieces move you?
This post is being published as part of Writing 101. Challenge 3: Using the free writing technique, describe three pieces of music important to you; publish the result without editing. No editing has been done; photos and links were added later.