After an informal presentation in a public speaking club, in which one theme whereon I touched was how a piece of music can be interpreted differently, a co-worker shared how he was inspired to purchase an 8-CD box of a certain HIP ensemble’s recordings of JS Bach, as a result of hearing an exhilaratingly lively Brandenburg Concerto over public radio. He lent me the box (which I enjoyed), so I reciprocated by lending him a box of the Mozart string quartets, which were then entirely unknown to him.
He found his experience of these so positive, that when he went to order the box for himself on-line, he followed the (website’s) Suggestion that he add a box of the Beethoven quartets.
Over time he has reported enjoying these very well. And in an unrelated conversation, when I had related the anecdote of Ravel and his neighbor’s purchase of an early recording of the Boléro, somehow I sneaked in mention of Shostakovich. His interest was piqued, and (notwithstanding that it is, for the newcomer to the literature, rather a leap from Beethoven) I then lent him a box of the Shostakovich quartets.
While the response was not the immediate warmth inspired by Mozart and Beethoven, his ear was engaged—he was unsure that he understood the music, but he knew there was an intelligence, logic and musicality in there, and he knew that he wanted to go back to listen again. Which I consider entirely positive.
—And he added (the next day, and since in our first chat about Shostakovich this was the topic which had arisen) that he was interested to find the means to investigate the symphonies. Well, what could I do? Of course I’ve lent him the box of Maksim Shostakovich conducting the Prague Symphony.
Really, I am trying not to overwhelm the fellow. And, new though he is to the Wide World of Classical Music, he seems to know to pace himself, and allow “absorption time.”
Well, there it is. A 21st-century listener who did not know of Shostakovich before, has gotten his musical appreciation feet good and wet. My work here is done . . . .