Monday, June 12, 2017

Music: “Nurturer and Savior of My Soul”

Author Evy Journey


Music plays a starring role in Hello, Agnieszka. At eight years old, Agnieszka hears her grandaunt give a recital at her home. Years later, here’s a part of what she says about that experience:

“The music began its drawn-out end slowly, mounting into a frantic rush. My muscles clenched, my heart beat faster and faster, and heat coursed through my body. When I thought I could get more and more excited, the notes slowed until the music stopped.

When my aunt lifted her fingers off the piano keys, it seemed everyone, but me, let out one gigantic breath. Me? I was panting.”

Agnieszka’s passion for music is kindled. 

She studies piano with her grandaunt who nurtures her dreams of becoming a concert pianist. But those dreams are shattered and for a short while, Agnieszka abandons her piano lessons and regrets what might have been. Eventually, though, she ends up taking solace in music, the very source of her first devastating loss. She’s sixteen when she realizes she must give up her dream, and she pours her frustration into her music:

“For the first time, I was conscious I played for myself alone, that I did not have to do so in service of a dream. I played for me. For how the music I could make with the piano intensified and then soothed my pain. For how it blotted out everything and became my whole world while it lasted. For how it promised to be the nurturer and savior of my soul.”

Classical music is also a major force in my life, not because I play an instrument but because I feel I must listen to it constantly. We have no classical radio stations in our area, but our audio system uses the magic of the internet. We have programmed rooms in our house to broadcast from other parts of the world with great classical radio stations: Paris at nine and noon, and Switzerland in the evening. 

Those hours add up to at least six in which music plays either for serious listening or as a soothing background for more involved activities. Add to those hours the rendezvous I have with my earphones when I exercise.

Who can endure music that lasts for minutes on end? What can I say? I may be an anachronism in an information-overloaded, gig-saturated high-tech world competing for flitting attention spans. The long, rich lingering works of long-dead masters touch me, thrill me, move me to tears.

The scenes quoted above are based on my own reactions to classical music, and what it does to me when I listen to it. Such is also true for other scenes in early chapters where music is featured.

Actually, my music tastes are eclectic. For this music-oriented novel set in the seventies, I bring in a musical icon of that period: American Pie by Don McLean. In one scene, her first love opens up Agnieszka’s constricted world when he plays the song on a jukebox.

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