Mozart died at 35 having composed over 600 compositions. I circle that age, 35, over and over again until I fear the pen will rip through the page. Why that number means more to me than the number of compositions underscores a simple reality about learning: we can’t stop ourselves from connecting.
It has been said that greatness in art is marked by the impossibility of imagining alteration. The story that could only have come right that way, the sculpture of which every contour begs contemplation, the music whose melody would fall flat were any one of its notes missing or moved—it is a quality that we recognize in such works as Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, or Michelangelo’s Pieta, or the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
When I get to the end of one of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, I want to jump out of my chair and cheer like I would for a Seattle Seahawks touchdown. I don’t usually do it, but the impulse is the same–the resolution at the end of these pieces is something like victory.
If you enjoy classical music, you probably already know what I am talking about. If you are not a fan of the genre, I will bet these masterpieces can make you cheer anyway.
In a previous post on the foundations of music appreciation, I began to consider the idea that music goes beyond our sense of preference and actually is indicative of the created order. This implies several significant points that should be listed and/or repeated:
This morning, my four students and I strolled leisurely through a biographical sketch of J.S. Bach, narrated back some of the astounding details of his life (20 children!), and then spent ten minutes listening to one of his concertos. It was a peaceful and soul-filling way to begin our day. As the last note ended, we moved on to fractions, violin practice, and handwriting.