Adventures in classical music

Today on Down the Rabbit Hole day, I’m going to write about what I spent the last half of last year listening to. I missed pretty much everything going on in the indie world because I finally discovered something on the radio.

Since we moved to LA I had turned off the radio because I couldn’t find anything to listen to. But my husband — usually an intrepid fan of the AM dial — found KUSC, the classical music station that USC underwrites. And I fell in love.

Readers of this blog will know that I am pretty much a dedicated lyrics person. I don’t think I ever had the patience for classical music, having had my attention span honed since birth by the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the King. But suddenly last summer I had grown up enough to sit still through a sonata, and my reward was beyond anything. I have always loved opera arias, but now I learned about where they fit into the opera and what they were about. I learned names of musicians and singers and musical groups performing symphonies by Dvorak and Lizst and Bach and Salieri. I learned that Salonen was leaving the LA Philharmonic this year (wonderboy Gustavo Dudamel is taking his place).

And I learned that classical music fans are even more fond of arcane detailing than hipsters. Which they totally have a right to — when Fleet Foxes puts out 68 string quartets, 14 operas, 42 concertos, 14 masses, 45 piano trios, 62 solo piano compositions, and 108 symphonies, let me know. (That’s the output of one J. Haydn).

I’m not saying I’m one of the elite (or that F.Foxes are bad, duh) here. I’m just saying, I dove in and swam around for awhile. The water was fine, it was more than fine, so if you want to stick your toe in, I recommend it. Or maybe you’re already swimming around in there and you’re laughing at me for being a dork — fine, I’m a dork. Let’s be dorks together.

I was dorkily delighted to see opera make an appearance on Gossip Girl last week — Rufus drags his former-rock-star butt to the opera with Lily, and tries to impress her by learning about the opera. But he learns about the wrong one (he is actually attending “Tristan & Isolde,” but Eric teaches him all about “The Magic Flute”). My almost-four-year-old son loves that particular aria sung by the Queen of the Night, and often asks for it. It’s called “Der Hölle Rache Kocht In Meinem Herzen,” loosely translated by me as “A hellish rage boils in my heart.” Who wouldn’t love a song called that, especially when it sounds so beautiful?

Die Zauberflöte — Der Hölle Rache Kocht In Meinem Herzen (as sung by Lucia Popp)



  1. James’s avatar

    Die Zauberflöte is my favourite opera, it’s fun! I find opera a very emotional experience. The way the music reverberates in your chest, it’s unfair, you get verklempt.

    You need to check out some Glenn Gould, he will blow your socks off on Bach. (The Goldberg Variations (the 1955 version I find I like more, but I have both).) Trust me. :-)

  2. muruch’s avatar

    I love classical music and opera in particular, though I’m not well versed in either (I know what I like, but rarely remember composer’s names). Thanks for sharing!

    Ps. A friend of mine is one of the writers for Classically Speaking, the local NPR station’s classical music blog.

  3. Hristo Itchov’s avatar

    Thanks for the mp3, was looking everywhere for it.

    I can listen to this all day… simply genius.

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