Thursday, September 02, 2010

My Path to Depravity: An Early Exposure to Toxic Influences

People have been asking me, they have been coming up to me on the street inquiring, beseeching me, demanding to know: "To what do you trace your life-long obsession with the music of Richard Wagner?  How did you first learn about him?  In what circumstances did you first hear his music?"

From a time before I was born, I suppose, my parents had a collection of 45 rpm records.  They owned a record player that only played 45 rpm records.  I don't know where they got the records or the record player.  Most of the records were pop songs.  But there were several opera recordings.  

I can recall that there was a recording of an excerpt from Bizet's Carmen, the Habanera.  I don't remember what was on the flip side.  There was another record that contained Musetta's Waltz from La Boheme.  Or maybe both arias were on a single record.  I can't remember now.

But there was another record.  It had two excerpts from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde: "O sink hernieder" from the second act duet and the Liebestod from the end of the third act.  I remember that the soprano was Eileen Farrell.

My parents never listened to the opera recordings.  But I discovered the Wagner and came to love the music at an early age.  My path to depravity started early, my exposure to toxic influences  -- diminished sevenths, unresolved harmonies, bizarre modulations -- began in my early years.   At a young age I became accustomed to music that was bizarre, incoherent, diffuse, bristling with harsh modulations and wild harmonies, bereft of melody, over the top, too noisy, and horribly difficult to play.

In childhood I had a friend who lived across the street named Chris Fineman.  One day he was at my house and I begged him to listen to the opera recording.  "Opera?  I'm not listening to opera!"

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

Such was my pre-morbid psychotic state: the first signs of my asymptomatic paranoid schizophrenia.