April's Baroque Voyage of Discovery, Part 1

January 27, 2015

The Universe rarely works in straight lines with me. I grew up singing Bach, Handel, Mozart and Brahms as part of our Episcopal Church choir, but for my listening pleasure, I was into rock and roll. The Beatles were my favorite band, but I was fairly conversant in the greatest hits of American and British bands from the 60s, 70s and 80s. My interest in classical music, above all baroque music, began with an obsession with a car.

The car in question was the Porsche 928s. I had a metallic aqua blue Matchbox version of this car, but I loved the full size adult version, too. I’d never been in one; I would just admire its sleek lines from afar whenever I happened to see one pass by. One day, while watching TV, an ad came on for that car. I was transfixed! I began to watch my favorite programs hoping to see that ad, just what the car company wanted, no doubt. However, after seeing the ad several times, I became increasingly aware that I was not being drawn to the advert by the beauty of the car being advertised. I was now enchanted by the beauty and energy of the background music! I soon began to yearn to hear the commercial rather than see it. This was surely not what the car company had in mind.

Some time later, I was flipping the radio dial from one rock station to another, which meant passing through all the stations in-between. As I landed on one station, I stopped in surprise–they were playing the music from the commercial! I had to listen to the end and find out what this piece was. It was the “Summer” concerto from the Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi.

Well, just as I’d built my collection of rock albums by following my ears, so I began to build my classical LP collection (yes, Virginia, we were still in the LP era–the beginning of the end of the LP era). I bought a recording by the Academy of Ancient Music, I believe, and got to know all four Seasons very well. I then went in search of more, and bought recordings of Vivaldi’s Op. 3 concerti, his Op. 4, and the complete Op. 8. But that still wasn’t enough, and soon I began looking at other composers whose dates of birth and death were around those of our friend, the Red Priest (so-called because of the color of his hair). Soon, Bach and Handel suites found their way into my collection, and I began in earnest my voyage into the 18th century.

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