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A moment of MusicViews: 611
Sep 29, 2008 9:18 pmA moment of Music#

Meredith Greene
This last weekend we had a fantastically windy day; I was driving the car, delivering lunch to my husband in the minivan, the younger kids riding in the back. The traffic lights along one, particular street in our city are notoriously slow to change, so the car was just sitting at a stoplight, waiting for the other lanes of cars to go by. I was drumming my fingers on the steering wheel to the music. As per my habit, the radio was tuned to the ‘classical’ station and Zigeunerweisen’s ‘Gypsy Airs’, Op. 20 came on; in case you are unfamiliar with the tune, it is a showpiece for enormously-talented violinists due to its complexity and 'aren't I so good at this' left-handed Pizzicatos. In parts it is lively and robust and in others it is drawn out and almost weeps with deep emotion.

The wind, as I mentioned, was whipping the trees about on both sides of the street, and then it happened: the trees began moving to the music. My fingers stopped drumming and I stared out through the windscreen with wide eyes. I know it was mere coincidence but it was beautiful nonetheless. The trees, along with their leaf-crowned branches, were dancing. They swayed to the music as if suddenly embodying gypsy folk in a forest, hands thrown towards the sky, stamping the ground in rhythmic steps. Back and forth they bowed and swirled; dust from an empty lot billowed across the road just as the music swelled. As the violinist deftly plucked the strings leaves flicked and rolled in the air, as if they were the notes themselves.

So spellbound was I by the sight that I almost forgot to glance up at the traffic light; not the kind of driver to linger at a ‘go’ signal, I drove onwards, though unwillingly. Despite my previous impatience to get to our destination with rapidity, I was sorry to see the red light turn green and tear my eyes from the unusual scene, back to the task of driving. It was a moment that I will remember a good, long time; the simple beauty of it has not faded from my mind, nor it is likely to. It took but a few seconds, strung together with a violin’s poignant harking and soft sighs, vanishing from whence it came.

This was not the first time I’d witnessed natural occurrences complimenting playing music. When I was about nine or ten, I was driving with my grandmother down a lonely stretch of highway between cities; the area was long, low and flat with but small, rolling hills here and there. A thunderstorm was rolling in overhead and the sky grew darker and darker; my grandmother also listened to classical music, and on the radio began to play a piece which years later I found to be the first movement of Karl Jenkins’ ‘Palladio’. As soon as the first few, short strokes of the cello sounded out, drops of rain pattered on the windscreen. As the music swelled in tempo and depth the clouds overhead boiled out larger and darker than before. To my amazement, the crash of the violins seemed to call out the lighting and they flashed together; one in the eye, the other in the ear. This went on for some time, as the piece is a bit lengthy and I enjoyed every second of it. Indeed, I hardly believed it as we sped onward and the music ended, to be replaced with another piece.

As in this recent case, the breathtaking moment was over and there was no evidence of it left, save for that which I had seen. How odd that in this day of such advanced technology nothing remained but for me to merely sit, with my mouth open in wonderment, only able to capture it in my mind. Thank goodness the gift of the pen is yet available to us in which to write down such moments that they may be enjoyed by those unable to see them firsthand.

I can provide one, small link to a you tube rendition of the incredibly-talented Itzhak Perlman playing the piece in question; enjoy.


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