Before we start discussing music, I must tell you how I became a classical music nerd.
I was probably like the average person. I listened to some classical music when I wanted to relax or do homework. Then before I knew it, half of the music on my mp3 player was classical and I nearly stopped listening to any other kind of music.
I went through phases of musical tastes. In fact, before I came to classical I listened to country. You’re probably thinking, “How does someone get from country to classical?” Yeah I know, it’s a quite a change to go from Big Green Tractor to the Hallelujah Chorus. I also went through phases of listening to Oldies, Big Band/Jazz, and Contemporary Christian. But by the time I reached the end of high school, I was noticing that there were a lot of new songs that sounded like the older songs, and a lot of the lyrics in the new songs sounded like lyrics I had heard before.
By that time I had learned how to play the piano. I wasn’t taking lessons then so I was playing whatever I wanted. Music from Josh Groban, Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Phantom of the Opera, and Pride and Prejudice was pretty much what I played all the time, with a few classical pieces thrown in here and there. I kind of got bored of the classical piano book I had. I wanted something more challenging and epic but I didn’t think there was anything out there. To me, classical music was just peaceful and relaxing and simple.
But one day I discovered something that wasn’t peaceful and relaxing and simple. My sister convinced me to watch this movie called The Pianist. As you may have guessed, the movie is about a pianist, and, as you may not have guessed, it takes place during World War II. At the end, the pianist plays something awesome and epic and difficult and fast. It starts out slow, but then builds up.
Here is the scene from the movie:
I was thinking “How does he even play that fast at the end??” And then I found out the composer of the music and printed it out to attempt to learn. In fact, I printed out all the music that was played in the movie. Anyway, the piece he played in that scene was Ballade No 1 Op 23 and the composer is Chopin. You’re thinking “Why did he name it Ballade and what is Op 23? Why didn’t he name it Epic and Awesome Piano Song?” Well, one reason is that he was writing in the 1800s when people didn’t really call a lot of things “epic” and “awesome”. In short, at that time they usually gave their music a name according to the style or form of the music. “Ballade” then refers to the form or style of the music. It is called No. 1 because it is the first ballade he wrote, and we will get to the “Op, 23” part in a later post.
So I attempted to learn this piece (the Ballade) in my senior year of high school. I did not come close to playing it as well or as fast as the guy did in the movie. But I liked what I heard from this composer and began to check out more stuff from him and the rest of his Ballades. I liked playing this music so much that I considered becoming a music major, with my goal in mind to teach piano, so others can discover this awesome music. After talking to a former music major, I decided it would be a good idea to earn a Bachelor’s in Music, which I earned in 2012.
That was my musical journey, and you will begin yours next week as we start to discover some great music. 🙂