When I was little, and my Oma would take my sister and I out for a trip to the ocean, or inside for pasta in her little cottage, she would play music. Cassettes, mostly, but the radio, too. I remember always fiddling with the black tape when she would have me fetch one from the glove compartment. That, of course, was met with a stern eagled-eyed glare. But there were these cassette tapes, later CDs, that she would play for us. Stories of mystery, fantasy, or just plain history, set to the most marvelous music. I would listen to them as I fell asleep in the car, or when she would knit in her chair and I would lay down by the fireplace. Stories about children and their adventures with composers like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi...and set to said composer's music. I would shut my eyes and imagine I was there, watching from the shadows. I was on the hunt to find the missing violin in shining city of Venice...I was listening to Beethoven hammer and pound on his keys upstairs...I could smell the salt air as Owen and Megan slept in a church in the woods, weary on their quest to cure their mother by the touch of a unicorn...I was there, hoping, praying, that Tchaikovsky would gather his nerves and perform at Carnegie Hall in New York. These are the stories that made me. And this was the music that stayed with me, for longer than I would ever have imagined.
When I was little, I would watch those old Barbie movies, right when CGI was starting out. They're ridiculous now, but when I was young, they were stories. Stories with the most wonderful music. The Nutcracker and Swan Lake, with Tchaikovsky's ballets of the same titles, and Rapunzel with practically all of Dvorak's New World Symphony. I would feel the music in my bones. I was awestruck with Clara and Prince Eric's dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Her, with her sparkling pink tutu and crown upon her head, and him, with his steady, graceful movements. So when I was very young, I danced ballet...for a time. There is a part of me that regrets not sticking with it, but I am not the same as I was ten years ago. I could not have known then what I know now. I could not have known myself.
All of my life could change, but that music, some of it hundreds and hundreds of years old, always stays the same. Even in college, as I close my eyes, I still feel the way I did so many years ago. How could one person compose so many parts for so many instruments, and have it be so passionate? How can that come from someone's mind? How do we hear music before it is even on paper? What masters! For the life of me, I wish I knew how they did it, but for now, I am content to sit back and listen.
I bring that old radio station my Oma would always blast in her car with me via their iPhone app. Classical 99.5, WCRB, Boston. But many things have changed. I know the hosts by name. I even follow some of them on Instagram and Twitter. I make dinner for myself to their Sunday Night at The Opera and recordings of The Boston Symphony Orchestra on Saturdays. And whenever I listen, I am transported back to the sleepovers with my Oma, when we would read and drink tea with the radio on in the background.
We can never tell what will influence us as we grow up and discover ourselves. I grew up with stories. I am a writer who (should actually finish what they write) listens to opera, classical, jazz, and the occasional K-pop (though I have no idea where that comes from). Point is, I'll take Beethoven over Beyoncé any day. I'm no musician, but it's a part of something that I love, that I could not live without. We never think about the things that make us, the things we carry on over from childhood into adulthood. And, to make matters even more interesting, we're not done yet. There is still so much of us we do not know. We never know what will come into our path tomorrow, or what we will remember that we were once so close to.