Sunday, August 10, 2008

Real Music Will Do This To You

My family never had to work at being Jewish.

That is what we were.

Thus, I don't think I heard the self-conscious kvetching of klezmer music, with its store bought gaiety and off-the-rack minor key sadness, until I was in my 30's or 40's.

The house I grew up in - my grandparent's house in North Winnipeg - was filled with music.

But none was ethno-centrically Jewish.

It was the music of Beethoven and Ravel, Gershwin and Leiber & Stoller.

There were Hebrew texts and Yiddish short stories, no doubt, but there was an ample supply of Joyce and John O'Hara and Somerset Maughm.

Usually when I listen to music, I have no apparent thoughts. I am happily hearing the music itself.

But last night, at a wonderful concert by the Leipzig String Quartet - part of Festival Vancouver at the Chan - my mind wandered back a mere 60 years.

The players were playing Mendelsshon, most beautifully.

Maybe I had heard this piece somewhere long ago. I don't know.

But I had certainly heard this kind of moment many times before.

Intricate melodies and rhythms, now powered, now delicate.

I curled a little lower in my seat, leaning a little closer to my friend. I was at home.


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