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the sound of genius

Today we rearranged the furniture. Out with the new, in with the old … one second-hand piece returned and another wonderfully complimenting it came from Goodwill. That triggered some furniture movement and a reorganization of the stereo system / “karaoke monitor”. Our 27″ monitor now accepts input from dvd, karaoke and vcr at the push of a button (no broadcast propaganda input here). The stereo now accepts input from the monitor, cd, cassette, radio or my newly beloved turntable.

The new-to-us piece has cabinet space for lp records that I began loading when I ran across Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade by the New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein conducting. I had to stop and savor my day’s labors.

Lately I have been listening to music only as I drive my pickup or from my online radio, Pandora. The factory cd player is okay and the cab noise isn’t bad – after all, this is a 2007 with young window and door seals. I seem to have lost the taste for classical music, finding it a bit annoying that the soft bits are too soft and, if I adjust for them, the loud bits are overwhelming. Jazz is great, but my collection is too small to provide continually fresh musical ideas. The radio offers nothing at all, unless you like perpetual repetition of simpleton top 20 rock or country tunes, which I don’t.

Upon hearing the first few notes, I knew I had to sit for a spell and drink it all in. As pretty as our new furniture is, the music demanded I close my eyes and let my imagination paint violinists, oboists, trombonists, drummers, Leonard Bernstein conducting and all the disparate pieces that made the whole so spellbinding.

That is the essence of classical music. Some Russian dude with precious little opportunity to know any world outside of his own painted an audio picture of Arabian royalty that will sit a energetic man motionless for an hour, 120 years after he wrote the score. Try to imagine any modern music with THAT lifespan or power.

In 1973, Columbia Records subtitled this album “the sound of genius masterworks library”. Today, genius is punished or prescribed into a corner. No way is our dumbed-down government school system going to produce anyone who can score an hour’s worth of music note-by-note for 80 musicians each at the very top of their craft that will interest, let alone captivate anyone today. A century hence, it will all be lost in the primordial muck where it belongs. In my most optimistic view, I can hope someone finds a way to heat a small dwelling with the result.