Wednesday, June 29, 2011

By around 11th grade, I had collected many of the standard classics on LP

I still have hundreds of LP records, including mono, in boxes in storage, dating back to the 1950s, and even a few old 78’s.  It’s true, home “entertainment” is becoming more centralized, but some day I’ll have to pick up a new amp, new speakers, and most of all find a turntable and tone arm again. I’d like to get to play them again.

CD’s take less space, but the new trend is just to sell MP3 downloads along with accompanying PDF’s, and let the user save them in the cloud. The MP3 file "object instance" is still legally like a phonograph record object.

I remember having some 10-inch LP’s back in the early 50s, like Strauss waltzes. But mostly I started getting LP classical records, sometimes as presents, around ninth grade.   By 11th grade I had some of the big classic:  On RCA Victor, Rubenstein playing Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto and Liszt’s First, and another RCA with Rubenstein and the Grieg and Rachmaninoff Paganini.  That’s where I learned the thrill  (“chills and fever” or adrenaline rush) of a “big tune” ending, that surprisingly a lot of composers today view as self-indulgent.

I also had a Krips Brahms First, a Mercury Dorati Beethoven Seventh, a cheap Beethoven 5th and Schubert Unfinished on one record, a Dvorak New World,  and then a Chopin Piano Concerto #1.  In my senior year of high school, I discovered Sibelius, and picked up Symphony 1 (Beecham), 2 (Munch), and 5 (Ormandy).  A friend in the Science Honor Society who also collected records (this was 1961) admired Dvorak, had a lot Artia recordings.  He also loved to indulge the last movement of Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique, which to me sounds self-indulgent.

Then I would hear about the evils of sapphire needles and heavy tracking. In 1962, I would get a VM stereo, and find that all the records with piano had been ruined toward the inner grooves.  The smaller stereo stylus would even pick up the vinyl shavings from worn records; on mono, a 1-mil stylus actually worked a little better.

Collecting records during high school and early college was actually important to developing a musical "ear". I have always been able to recognize most classical compositions that give any sense of normal bearing after after a few hearings.  What's playing in my head right now?  The surprise ending of the Prokofiev Sixth (another Op 111).  (I'll get to thinking about the Liszt B-minor later.)

Owing a "copy" (or "instance" in software engineering jargon) of someone else's work and learning it mentally is still not the same as being able to perform it, and it's still not the same as creating a work yourself. But that logically follows. 

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