Saturday, September 24, 2005

Harp Plucking

Last night I was watching the New York Philharmonic on PBS--a great concert of Chopin and Mahler (even if the special pianist for Chopin felt he had to make creepy faces of staged ecstasy and art into the camera). Anyway, it came time for Mahler, Symphony No. 1 (Titan) and the music was beautiful and I was watching when I saw the harpist and realized that I had never plucked a harp.
I called dad to comment on that one. He told me that he had commented at grandma J's funeral that he figured the second thing she did upon her arrival in heaven was sign up for harp lessons.
So today I bumped into the harp teacher at school and asked her if I could pluck a harp. (I almost didn't--what an idiotic request! Sort of like really wanting to drum the tympani.) She asked jokingly if she could charge me for the lesson. Anyway, we chatted for a while, then she showed me how the red strings are Cs and the black strings are Fs and how the pedals do the sharps and flats (I hadn't even realized that harps have pedals--the four-limb coordination it takes to play one must rival that needed to fly a helicopter), and how to snap my fingers in and hold my elbow up. Then she told me to relax before I strummed a C cord. Ta-daa! So I plucked a harp today. Checkmark in the box.
A note on Mahler--on my 20th birthday I got up early and with a friend lugged my boombox to the top of the fire tower near where I was working--he couldn't believe I had never listened to Mahler. We brought Symphony No. 2 (Resurrection) and it was simply brilliant. Since then, I have found that I also very much love Symphony No. 5.
As far as Chopin goes, I love the second movement of piano concerto number 2. The first time I heard it was in a humanities survey class (what a fantastic time! I also fell in love with Brunelleschi's dome that semester--) and it brought me to tears. What a geek I am.
And since I'm writing about classical music I guess I had better go all the way and just say that very little can compare with Smetana's Moldau. I can put that on, lay down, and be at perfect peace with myself and the world. It also imparts the feeling of my soul freeing itself and flying straightway out of my chest to live a very charmed life different from my own. Fantastic.