Steve purchased 32 CDs through an e-Bay auction last week. Beethoven, Bruckner, Handel, Haydn and Schubert, mostly. I think he’s trying to collect at least one recording of every Schubert piece…and there are more than 900 compositions cataloged. Last night, he put on Beethoven’s first symphony when I got home from class. I poured myself a glass of Cupcake Red Velvet and settled in under the blanket on the squishy couch with him. Closing my eyes, I got an immediate visual memory of my father in his brown chair with the matching ottoman sitting next to the stereo cabinet, reading glasses and a glass of Kirigin Cellars Vino de Mocha in a wooden coaster beside him on the redwood burl table. My mother is in the red rocking chair, knitting away on another warm pastel hat for a preemie at the hospital. There’s a fire in the fireplace, and I imagine myself and Steve lying in front of it on the oriental rug. We are all enjoying early Beethoven together, eyes closing in pleasure, warm and satisfied against the chill of a dark November.
I wish that this were possible. I even imagine Jim lying on the tan sofa opposite the fireplace and wish I could picture Steve’s dad there as well. It comforts me to think that music bringing us all together. Music has been at the foundation of all of our lives in different ways. My father and mother courted by going to concerts in college. Jim’s mother, my mother-in-law, was a concert pianist. Steve and his dad would listen to records in their den, shutting out all distractions. My dad, Steve’s dad, and Jim are dead, but they seem to keep resonating music nevertheless. We listen to music intently, we feel it and breathe it. There is no TV in the room. We haven’t got headphones or ear buds. We let the music fill the space available. In this way, we live with music and it nourishes us. That is something we share in common, something sacred, I think.
Of course, there are other ways to relate and other kinds of music. My kids and I crank up Beetles tunes and sing along or belt out show tunes together. I’m introducing my youngest to opera now, and wondering how much they choose to listen to “Classical” music on their own. I know that my oldest cherishes the music she sang with her father when they were in Chicago Master Singers together. Now, she’s the lead vocalist in a punk band.
But it’s all good. If we’d lived 150 years ago before recorded music was available, I’m sure we’d be picking up instruments and singing to ourselves all the live long day. It’s impossible for me to imagine our life without music. And something about the darkness of the season makes the music seem all the more life-giving.
So, I think I’ll turn off this computer and go downstairs where Steve is playing his CDs. I’m as thankful for this abundance as I am for food.