Classical Fans Tell Stories Of 'First Loves' : Deceptive Cadence The simple question, "What was the first piece of classical music you fell in love with?" launched a new music blog and an avalanche of powerful stories.
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Classical Fans Tell Stories Of 'First Loves'

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Classical Fans Tell Stories Of 'First Loves'

Classical Fans Tell Stories Of 'First Loves'

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This was my first love in classical music.

(Soundbite of music, "Emperor Concerto")

SIEGEL: My father had an LP back in 1952, I think this was, of Beethoven's "Emperor Concerto" and I wore it out, scratching it, playing it over and over again, marching around to the strains of the first movement. I don't think I made it to the second movement for another several years.

(Soundbite of music, "Emperor Concerto")

SIEGEL: For me, this was my first love. NPR's Tom Huizenga posed the question last week: what's the first piece of classical music you fell in love with, for the launch of NPR Music's new classical music blog, Deceptive Cadence. And Tom joins us now. Hi.

TOM HUIZENGA: Hey. Great to be here, Robert.

SIEGEL: And you did have an answer from conductor Marin Alsop, to help prime the pump here.

HUIZENGA: I did indeed. She had a great story. She was 14 years old at a summer music camp. She was walking by a closed door, someone's room. She heard this music coming out of it and she was mesmerized.

(Soundbite of music, "String Sextet in B Flat")

HUIZENGA: It was the "String Sextet in B Flat" by Brahms, performed by the Amadeus Quartet. And Marin writes: it was thrilling. And something happened to me that day that never happened before: I felt deeply and profoundly moved by a piece of music. I gradually sank to the floor outside the door and found myself unexpectedly weeping.

(Soundbite of music, "String Sextet in B Flat")

HUIZENGA: And she goes on to say that at that moment she fell hopelessly in love with becoming a musician.

(Soundbite of music. "String Sextet in B Flat")

SIEGEL: And, of course, Marin Alsop became a conductor.

HUIZENGA: She sure did.

SIEGEL: You received, I gather, several hundred answers to this question, what was your first love.

HUIZENGA: In just under a week, 450 responses. So, we were thrilled with that.

SIEGEL: OK. Tell us about some of the good ones.

HUIZENGA: One of the most stunning stories comes from Ariane Miyasaki. And her first love was Beethoven's "Symphony No. 6," the "Pastorale Symphony." She was homeless when she first heard it. And she had a job wearing one of those sandwich boards. And she saved up 50 bucks, she says, for a Discman. And all she could afford after that was a cheap $1.50 used recording of the Beethoven's sixth symphony that she found in a secondhand store.

And here she writes: I was playing it for the first time in my board, pacing up and down the block, because if you stopped moving at anytime, the police would ticket you for loitering, and I suddenly burst into tears. I felt like Beethoven was there with me, saying, I know this sucks but, look, here's the whole world outside - birds, the sky, the sun, and here you are. You're in it. Buck up.

(Soundbite of music, "Symphony No. 6")

HUIZENGA: Ariane Miyasaki goes on to say: Because of that symphony, that moment, I decided to dedicate myself to music. I got my GED. I went to community college and got an associate's in flute performance and another in humanities and social science. And now she's doing her grad work, she says, in composition. And she ends her not by saying: Maybe someday I will make something that will help somebody like the sixth helped me.

SIEGEL: It's a beautiful story about a beautiful piece of music. We have two Beethovens, a Brahms - the Bs are in the lead.

HUIZENGA: They are. There's a lot of Bach, too, that the listeners wrote in about, and some Russians and Samuel Barber. And also Mendelssohn.

SIEGEL: Mendelssohn.

HUIZENGA: A reader by the name of Shaul Yahil writes that his first love was Mendelssohn, for a very surprising reason. He writes: the first classical piece I truly loved was the Mendelssohn "Violin Concerto in E Minor," which I heard for the first time when I was eight. And for four years before that I'd been playing the piano, but the moment I heard Igor Oistrakh's recording, I knew I wanted immediately to take up the violin.

(Soundbite of music, "Violin Concerto in E Minor")

HUIZENGA: He goes on to write: My parents were against it. They didn't think I could handle two instruments at a time. I kept insisting, and they kept refusing. For two years this went on. Eventually, they asked me why I so desperately wanted to play the violin. When I told them that it was because I'd been listening to the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, they went silent. The next day I got my first violin, and my first lesson was that week. And a few months later, I learned why my parents suddenly changed their minds. It turns out I'm descended from the Mendelssohns.

SIEGEL: I thought it was that classical music had the charm to quiet the parent.

HUIZENGA: To soothe the savage parent.

SIEGEL: Savage parent. Tom Huizenga, thank you very much for talking with us about this project.

HUIZENGA: Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: Tom writes the Deceptive Cadence blog for NPR Music, and he was talking to us about people's first loves in classical music.

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