04 October 2009

On change

My friend Ray in Winnipeg writes:

I must say I’m very surprised at the aversion and dislike to Tchaikovsky’s music (several people). To each their own, of course. Nevertheless, I’m still surprised.

For what it’s worth, there was a time that I could not stand his music either. I found the beginning of the 4th symphony incredibly annoying, and it completely put me off on beginning exploring his symphonies for a few years. Also, I could not stand
The Nutcracker (COULD NOT STAND IT!). Now, I absolutely love it!
To which my friend Brian at Rice replies:

I went through an anti-Tchaikovsky phase too. My specific bane was the Fifth Symphony; the Fifth Symphony seemed so shallow to me, so strung-together. It wasn’t a symphony; it was one thing after another, and it was loud and the silly-grin happy ending really bothered me. Spent several weeks trying to find something to like about it, but to no avail. So I set it aside for a while; specifically, I set it aside for two years. At the end of those two years, during which I grew as a (teenage) person and evolved as a listener, it just so happened one day that, looking at my music collection, I thought, “I should find the CD that I have listened to least,” and by golly, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth (Ormandy, Philadelphia) was the one that had gone unplayed for the longest time.

And, for whatever reason, that day it all changed. It’s been only a few years, four at most, since I rediscovered that symphony. Now I’d count Tchaikovsky’s Fifth in my top dozen personal favorite symphonies, and I own no less than 12 separate recordings of the piece. It’s still the same music. But the listener changed.
. . . illustrating again that it is not the art which changes, it is we who change in our relation to the art.

A few days ago, I watched The Great Dictator for the second time. A bout half a year had passed since the first I’d seen it. That first time, I liked it all, but felt that it ran somehow rather longer than need be.

Watching it the second time, I felt no such thing . . . I think the film wears its duration very well.

Indeed, one aspect of that second viewing took me completely by surprise, in a pertinent way. After watching it that first time with Maria & Irina, it was decided that we should buy a copy for home (that copy had been checked out from the Boston Public Library).

So, with that authorization, I bought the DVD . . . not very surprisingly, it has rested on the shelf all this time. Chancing upon it the other day, I found it still sealed in shrink-wrap; so I opened it, simply to pop it in, look a little bit, make sure it plays. I had not at all intended to sit and watch the whole thing; but as I started watching, I was engrossed.

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