Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Interest in Western Classical Music

I remember when I was quite young, I developed an interest in western classical music. Those days, I wasn't earning and buying those audio cassettes and CDs on limited pocket money was impossible, so, I used to listen to the good old All India Radio and you could listen to symphonic music late night. I was always an owl and keeping awake late nights and going off to study early the next morning was never a problem.

After I started working in 1995, I began indulging myself rather well into my interest. I got my first email account in 1997, when the cyber cafes used to charge Rs. 150 per hour for internet access and it was difficult to find internet access in the city. The British Council Library had opened internet access and it was Rs. 100 for members of the library. Those days, I discovered about, and it was a website that allowed to download lots of free music files over the internet. Later, it went paid and gave some free files as well and it changed its name to Classical Archives. You can access it here.

I would go to Crosswords in Ebony, South Extension, in New Delhi, to buy my classical music. There was Sridhar and then Anand, two people on the floor, who were quite helpful.

I bought Swan Lake and The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. I also bought Richard Strauss's Thus Spake Zarathustra. Those were heady days. Then one of my father's friends gifted me a CD which had selections by Max Bruch and Felix Mendelssohn. I guess I have never heard anything like Mendelssohn. If you haven't heard Mendelssohn, if you haven't heard Tchaikovsky, if you haven't heard Franz Schubert's Ave Maria, I am sure you wouldn't find me presumptuous in saying that you have missed something in life. Those were the days, I heard Beethoven's symphonies.

Then came the days of the internet and the use of the internet in my life. I was able to use the internet to really increase and enhance my interest in western classical music. I have heard The Tempest by Peter Tchaikovsky. It was what he wrote as a tribute to William Shakespeare. That is what I mean when I say 'those were heady days'. By the way, if I say 'those were the days', I might as well be referring to that wonderful song by Mary Hopkin that I am sure most of you must have heard.

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