Thursday, June 21, 2012

My Favorite Symphony

Dvorak's Ninth Symphony also known as the New World Symphony.

I played this symphony in high school - I was a violist then.  We had been playing Mozart all year long because my conductor had some penchant for him but honestly, if all you play is Mozart and you are a violist, it gets pretty boring.  So to play Dvorak who actually wrote solo parts for the viola section and gave us something other than half notes was a thrill.  (I heard the Dvorak himself was a violist)  Even more so, it was technically difficult enough that us violists struggled and found ourselves going over small sections in our determination to get it just right.  It would be the last symphony I would ever perform, in my last orchestra concert ever.  It holds a special place.

Some time in college, I bought a recording of the symphony.  Since I only had a few CDs, it was soon on my playlist as I got ready for rugby practice.  Not long after, it would be the only thing I would listen in preparation for practice and games.  The fourth movement especially.  On my mission, we were only allowed to listen to classical music and when I told my mission president's wife that the only symphony I owned was Dvorak's, she told me to pull it out and listen to it.  I told her that I had listened to it so many times before rugby that I might end up just tackling people on the street.  She just laughed.

It's been at least two years since I last listened to this symphony.  Even now, I can't hear it without a thrill.  It still reminds me of orchestra and how by the end, I'd be playing with so much energy that my arms would collapse at the end from exhaustion.  It still reminds me of rugby and how much of a routine I followed in preparation for those games and practices.  Oddly enough, it also reminds me of my orchestra friends who were much more than orchestra friends but British Literature study buddies and soccer practice buddies.  And also of all the engineering problem sets I had to pound through and how many times after I'd given up on a problem for the afternoon, I'd find myself figuring out a new way of looking at it while preparing for rugby and listening to that symphony. 

It's one of those days.  Nothing but a symphony will do.

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