Regardless of the answer, it happened, if I am allowed to pathetically #humblebrag about the occurrence.
I’ve written a few posts on this blog about how I have had to “learn to love” things like ballet, opera, and, to a lesser extent, chamber music. Writer and composer Jan Swafford, who shares thoughts on classical music over at Slate (I may just have to confess to reading through his entire archive there), tackled that same topic last month in writing about his struggles with Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and eventual surmounting of them. At the conclusion of that piece, he invited readers to share their own stories about artworks that they only grew to appreciate over time. I, apparently having nothing better to do with my time, sent in an e-mail to offer my own anecdote concerning the oeuvre of one Johannes Brahms, and I was taken aback in the best way to find it excerpted in Swafford’s aggregation of reader feedback.
Swafford ended that article with the following paragraph:
There’s all kinds of love, the easy kind and the hard-won kind, the ones you didn’t expect, the ones you resisted, the ones that blindsided you. Readers wrote in about their passions for F. Scott Fitzgerald, for Bach and Bob Dylan, and explained why they find Van Gogh scary. Mostly it was about love. All varieties of love help make life worth living, and in contrast to some varieties, artworks don’t criticize your driving or ask for a divorce. I remember a woman who called in to a radio show I was on concerning Brahms. “I'm 90 years old and blind,” she said, “But I play the piano and I still have a life in Brahms.” Art is just as big or as small as you are, and it loves you exactly as much, and as long, as you love it.
It’s a sentiment that I found equal parts sublime and truthful, and I must admit to tearing up just a little bit by the last sentence. It states in terms more simpler and eloquent than I could ever summon why I clung to the Chopin ballades when I found out my mother was diagnosed with cancer and, on more prosaic basis, reach for Mozart symphonies after a bad day. Music is the truest solace I know, as grand as it is intimate and endlessly forgiving.