This evocative post at Reflections in d minor on "musical epiphanies", inspired by Alex Ross's inaugural entry in his "catalogue of life-altering musical moments", inspired me too. Some musical memories, sharp and sweet:
—Seeing Dame Gwyneth Jones in Richard Strauss's Elektra, at the San Francisco Opera in the late '90s. I've mentioned before that I seem to lack the receptors needed to appreciate opera with a full-on passion, but this performance got through to me. Her bone-chilling "Agamemnon!", something between a shriek and a bellow, made me sit up straight, where I remained transfixed for the rest of the opera. I look back on this and still think: wow wow wow.
—Hearing a high school classmate play Schubert's Impromptu in A-flat minor (Opus 90, no. 4). She was so talented; I was blind with envy of a magnitude that I hadn't experienced ever before and, thankfully, not ever since. I never sought out a recording of the piece, but some three decades later, happened upon a live broadcast of a performance of it on the local classical station, and found that the piece was burned in my brain. The next day, I got the sheet music for it, and now I play it as often as I can.
—Getting a book of rudimentary-level transcriptions of jazz standards for the piano from my father, and trying to play Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker's Anthropology. Sight-reading it is no problem, but my attempt to play it is like reading an unfamiliar language aloud phonetically. My father says, No...here's how it goes:
da da dadada da dada daI still haven't the touch whatsoever for playing be-bop, but I get it, and I love it.
da dada dadada dadadada dadadada
da dada dweeda deet da dau
da dada dayadadadada dadada da dada da
—Sitting on the lawn at Ravinia on a typically hot, muggy, and buggy summer evening. It's the late '70s, and James Levine is conducting the Chicago Symphony in Beethoven's Seventh. The second movement (the Allegretto) could be glibly termed 'heartstrings over a heartbeat', but it's magnetic and overpowering. No sign of restlessness or chattering from the lawn crowd. We're all spellbound. I've obsessively acquired different recordings of the Seventh over the years, but this performance is the one I always hear in my head.