It’s a Classic.
Coming from a basically proletarian background I didn’t exactly have a lot of exposure to Classical music in my formative years. My first strong memory is the shock of our music teacher trying to get a bunch of working class kids to think about the classical pieces many of whom had never heard of. I remember him playing Mars from Holst’s Planet Suite (I think it was) and asking us what we thought. The shouts of ‘rubbish’ almost drowned out the music itself. “Why is it rubbish?” he persisted, “Not loud enough” came the cry so he simply turned up the volume which, of course, made no difference at all. Our level of ignorance was astounding but the music teacher persisted for the whole year and some, including me, began to like some of what he played for us.
Many years later when I began to buy my own Classical CD’s I realised just how much classical music I must have absorbed by some sort of cultural osmosis over the years. Most of it I had heard on TV advertisements, the rest embedded in movie soundtracks or ‘modernised’ by contemporary musical artists. This was how I discovered Debussy, thanks to a friend of my brother’s love of Tomita. Unsurprisingly, my taste in the classics is still pretty much plebeian consisting mainly of what are often disparagingly called the ‘popular’ classics – such as the Planet Suite. I have, I think, also developed my personal tastes finding that I love the sound of the piano which transfers to harpsichord and organ, that I have a deep love of the Baroque style and have even developed a taste for opera. Later on I developed a taste for ‘modern’ classics by Nyman and Karl Jenkins. But I consider my all time favourite classical piece to be Adagio in G minor for organ and strings by Tomaso Giovanni Albinoni which, somewhat oddly, I first heard in the original Rollerball. To date I probably have more that a dozen different versions of it. In the right circumstances it can reduce me to an emotional wreck. I LOVE it. Another of my all time favourites is from two movies – The Seven Year Itch and Brief Encounter – Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto. It’s totally sublime.
Showing my working class roots I also love Bach’s Toccata & Fugue (also from Rollerball) and quite a bit of Wagner (Apocalypse Now has a lot to answer for in that regard). But I also like the more odd-ball Satie and who could possibly ignore the Penguin Café Orchestra! I’m not such a fan of Mahler but like Mozart (who doesn’t?) and love Beethoven. Common tastes I know, but there you are. I was going to list my Top 10 tracks but I’d have to listen to hours of music to come up with something meaningful. Maybe at some later point? Needless to say my musical tastes don’t start with the 1980’s and end in the 1990’s. I’m also partial to a bit from the 18th and 19th Century too. I wonder if I became Middle Class at some point. Anything is possible.