Last evening, I received my final Christmas present. Took awhile to get here but well worth the wait. My daughter, Taylor, had purchased two tickets to the Chicago Symphony for a performance of what I consider the most beautiful piece of music ever written, Barber's Adagio for Strings, op.11.
When I first heard this piece, about 5 or 6 years ago, it felt like the evolution of a passionate love story for me. Starting slow and cautiously, the music is delicate, fragile--sure of what it is but holding back, unwilling to reveal all. Gaining strength, it works its way to an intense cresendo, an acknowledgment to all the passion that exists between two people. Finally, it becomes secure. No longer holding back, trusting, mature. Exactly what a love story should be.
During a particularly trying time , I found myself listening to it and an entirely different story emerged. I shared with my daughter that if the world, mankind, Earth, could mourn, could collectively feel all the pain and suffering that exists, it would sound like Barber's Adagio. Yes, I know--heavy thoughts. Occasionally one comes across heavy times.
Last night's performance was beautiful. It was lighter, more restrained than other interpretations I have heard yet equally magnificent. To watch the performers make the music speak, weaving magic with their talent and instruments was so moving. For some I am sure it was methodical and merely a piece to preform. For others, they were the music. Whether it was a love story, a collective sigh of grief or some other interpretation, each performer became that story for seven minutes.
I found a clip of a performance from London Symphony Hall for you to listen to. It is long, about 10 minutes. Listening to it would be the best 10 minutes you could give yourself today. Close your eyes and let it take you by the hand to wherever it leads. Be the music.
P.S. Thank you Taylor.
Photo credit: natalamc@flickr