The next few blog posts will be reflections on music that has changed my life. Music is a big part of living at our house. Whether it is singing of hymns, playing stringed instruments, or - longest of all - listening to recorded music, there is always something in the air.
I attribute a lot of that to my dad’s love of music. He always had a decent stereo, way back to when it was a “Hi-Fi” and it took up one whole wall of your living room.
My parents had two classical records in their large record collection, as far as I can remember. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, backed by Schubert’s Unfinished, conducted by Bruno Walter. A classic recording, I’m sure. The other one was a set of overtures played at the Hollywood Bowl by somebody or other. But that was enough to thrill to the opening notes of the Fifth Symphony or the closing notes of the William Tell Overture.
When I came under the influence of the young men at Believers Chapel, especially Frank Seay, and also when I heard Francis Schaeffer on his classic How Should We Then Live movie, I came to see that music reflected the “worldview” of its composers. The concept of “worldview” was new to me then, but gradually I began to see world history in terms of the shift in worldviews from age to age. No age is perfect, but I could see how people like Bach and Handel expressed a pre-Enlightenment Christian view of the world, and Mozart and Haydn a post-Enlightenment version of the same, even if some of them were not personally believers in Christ. Later composers reflected the Transcendental/Romantic philosophies of the 19th century, emancipating themselves from even the Christian memory, a shift which continued into the 20th century.
Baroque music became my favorite music. The first classical album I remember purchasing was an LP of “Best of Bach” by E. Power Biggs on the organ. Then the greatest choral work of all time, Handel’s Messiah with Raymond Leppard conducting. But the advent of compact discs was the great eye opening experience. Music reproduction in the home was suddenly as good as the best equipment had ever been. For $15 a pop you could have infallibly great recordings that would essentially last forever. (At least mine have. Thanks to computers, they probably will last my lifetime at least.)
I’m going to try to write up my favorite performers, albums, or genres in the next few posts. This is more than a “top ten” list. This is music that has become woven into the fabric of my life, and that of my family. Mostly for good, I hope.