Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy

These days, I check out classical music more than new releases. I don’t agree when people say, “Nobody makes good music anymore.” It’s just that I’ve never been able to dig into the old stuff in the way that I can today – in other words, I’ve been hopping around on Spotify Premium, hungrily consuming everything I can click. I took a music appreciation class in my undergraduate years, but the actual appreciating failed to occur until a few years ago, when I queued Claude Debussy’s music.

A note on Debussy: After listening to him for a number of times, I’ve come to the conclusion that he might be a big influence for John Williams, the film score composer. I can hear similarities between the two in Debussy’s “Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune,” which could fit into Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind – especially, when you get close to six minutes into the song. You can also, quite easily, insert “Dialogue du vent et de la mer,” from Debussy’s La Mer, into Spielberg’s Jaws. It makes me wonder if Debussy would write film scores too, if he could return from the dead into our modern days.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Of course, I knew about Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, but I mostly thought of it as an element of Christmas. I had also heard of Swan Lake, but I never gave it a proper listen – not until recently, that is. The highlight piece from the latter, “Scene,” might be the most beautiful song I’ve heard since “Pure Imagination,” from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I love the entire ballet, actually, and I hope that I can see a performance of it someday. El Paso has scheduled two performances of The Nutcracker, and I hope to attend one of them, in December; but if Swan Lake shows up in the near future, I’ll be sure to attend.

Camille Saint-Saëns
Camille Saint-Saëns

Lastly, for now, I’d like to mention Camille Saint-Saëns, who I read about in an Anton Chekhov story – I forget which one. When I queued “Danse Macabre in G Minor,” I reacted in a way that I’ve been reacting a lot with these classical songs: “Oh! I’ve heard this one before!” On the other hand, I had only heard parts of Le carnaval des animaux before – “Aquarium,” naturally – but found the entire selection just as enjoyable, even without the excitement of recognition. I particularly love “Le coucou au fond des bois,” which translates into, “The Cuckoo in the Heart of the Woods.” It is exactly as the title suggests: The piano creates a deep wood, and you can hear the cuckoo call from within.


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