Posted by Casey on May 8, 2007
I listen to music as I work. No big surprise. Most people do. The stations on the tv are nice because they’re nonstop music and they display the names of the composers, performers, etc.
Currently I’m listening to the third piano concerto by Prokofiev. As always when I hear this piece, I can see in my mind’s eye the tiny public library in Carbondale, Illinois (long before they built the fancy new library building). In the corner near the front door was a wall filled with LPs.
When I was twelve I checked out two recordings that pretty much changed my life. One was a recording of the 1st and 3rd Prokofiev Piano Concertos. The other was the Julliard String Quartet classic recording of the six Bartok String Quartets.
The concertos were eye-opening. The quartets were mind-blowing. I listened to the quartets over and over again, trying to figure out how Bartok could get all those strange, unique, incredible sounds from four homogeneous instruments and fashion it all into intense and beautiful music. I swore I wanted to be able to compose like that someday. I can honestly say that was the turning point in my decision to concentrate on composing rather than performing as a musician. Even at the tender age of twelve.
The next year I started taking composition lessons with a professor at the university and I discovered many other composers and amazing works through the years. But the Bartok string quartets remain the pinnacle of music achievement for me because I’ve never been able to completely unravel their wondrous mystery.