Printer-friendly version
Terez Mertes

Boy Meets Symphony

September 28, 2011 at 4:25 PM

The other weekend I took my son to the symphony for the first time. But wait—cast aside the notion that this will turn into a sweet little story of a boy’s shining eyes, slipping his hand into mine and whispering “aw, that was swell, Mom. I’ll never be the same again.” I don’t have that kind of kid. He’s twelve and likes The Simpsons, Family Guy, weapons and electronics and anything war-related. My one consolation: he loves the music of Hans Zimmer, who, as well as composing for films, apparently does music for video games (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, anyone?). Close enough to classical for me.

We had tickets, husband, son and I, in the Center Terrace section of Davies Symphony Hall. $15 a seat, half-price this season in honor of San Francisco Symphony’s centennial year. No better bargain exists, and you are right up there on the stage, directly behind and above the musicians. We arrived early and snagged front row seats. Yo-Yo Ma was performing; the section filled up fast (seating is on a first-come, first-served basis). 

I overheard someone behind us comment that the youth symphony members had just finished their rehearsal, which explained the large number of teenaged kids, the fact that several of them carried instruments and were dressed casually. The girl sitting next to my son was wearing a tee shirt and shorts. What the heck. They were behaving appropriately and were clearly enthusiastic. They called back and forth to one another, pointed out and studied the arriving musicians. Across the way, I watched a trio of guys, draped over the railing that separated the stage from the seating, wistfully taking in everything onstage as the musicians warmed up. 

The concert opened with a well-played Beethoven’s “Leonore Overture,” but it soon became clear what held the kids’ biggest interest: Yo-Yo Ma performing Hindemith’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra. A thrum of voices rose during the pause between the pieces, a happy anticipation. The teens in our row, Asian-American girls, were growing more visibly excited. Their whispers and giggles grew louder.  

The lights dimmed. Anticipation reached a fever pitch. For one long moment, no one breathed, no one spoke. The audience, the entire concert hall—perhaps the whole world, the whole cosmos—was in a state of suspended animation. Then Yo-Yo stepped out. 

The girls in our row screamed. They literally sprang from their seats, clearing a good inch off the cushion, practically fibrillating with excitement. Yo-Yo bowed to the audience, shook hands with the concertmaster, waited for the applause to die down before sitting, but the applause and screams from Center Terrace simply wouldn’t abate. It was hilarious. Heart-warming. Honestly, it made tears sting the back of my eyes. I realized I hadn’t even checked my son’s reaction to seeing his first world-class celebrity up close, because I was so engrossed in the girls’ reaction. Their screams had that agonized, frenzied quality one equates with old footage of The Beatles’ female fans. The girls hooked their fingers together, making “I love you” hearts, raising them high above their head. When Yo-Yo turned around and acknowledged them finally, the screams crescendoed, the applause and cheers going on and on. 

Needless to say, Yo-Yo Ma and the Hindemith were a big hit. 

After intermission it was Brahms Symphony no. 1. While the night’s programming was well-paired, there was a certain letdown to the second half, certainly for my son, whose main interest had been in seeing Yo-Yo Ma. After ten minutes he was ready to go home. He began fanning himself with a playbill in an exaggerated fashion. He slumped against my husband in abject fatigue, shifted to resting his head against the railing, muttering under his breath, “When is this going to end?” He groaned aloud later, much later, when the musicians launched into a coda of sorts in the final movement, instead of finishing. This, in Center Terrace, which means the audience sees him as clearly as they see the musicians.

A real Kodak moment, I’m sure. I commanded myself to enjoy the music, regardless, and comforted myself with the knowledge that no one would see me or my son again after tonight. (My own subscription seat is tucked far away into an upper corner.) 

So. My son didn’t fall in love with the whole experience. What he got to witness, however, was kids who had. Teenagers who didn’t have to be cajoled into sitting through the night’s performance. Quite the opposite. Really, the kind of burning desire you can’t really foster in a kid. It’s got to be there, a fire deep in their core. It’s got to consume them. And boy, did it ever.

A rewarding night of music, in so many ways.



© 2011 Terez Rose 


PS: I'd love to hear others' opinions on listening to Brahms Symphony no. 1. I am a huge fan of the Brahms Violin Concerto, the Double Concerto, his two piano concertos. Am I the only one who finds his symphonies to be, in comparison, just sorta, kinda… pleasant?


From Tom Holzman
Posted on September 28, 2011 at 6:52 PM

What a wonderful blog!  I think you hit the most important, which was your son getting to see lots of kids his age go nuts over the music you love.  It may not convert him, but at least, to the extent he might like some of it, he won't think all other kids will think he is a hopeless dork.  I can't get over the girls' reaction to Yo-Yo Ma.  I did not realize he was that sort of rock star for the girls.

I am not Brahms's greatest fan, although I do like the Double (Heifetz/Feuermann recording on Naxos is terrific) and Piano #2.  Symphony #4 is very interesting, particularly the first movement and the Passacaglia in the fourth movement.


From Anne Horvath
Posted on September 28, 2011 at 7:51 PM

I've never been enthralled by Brahms' violin concerto



ducking for cover...

From Anne Horvath
Posted on September 28, 2011 at 7:52 PM

With helmet now firmly strapped to head, I've always loved the 2nd piano concerto, the serenades, the piano trios, the vla/clarinet sonatas, the cello sonatas, and the violin sonatas.  Some of the piano pieces are wonderful, especially the rhapsodies.

That said, I tend to favor the 3rd symphony.  They are all good, but take some patience.  Maybe they aren't as exciting as video games?

(Your son plays Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2?)

Nice blog.  Looking forward to the next one!



From Ann Marie Cordial
Posted on September 28, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Maybe I should duck for cover too.  Not because of the type of music I like, but the harsh fact is that I began to study a stringed instrument in my late 40's....because I like the music of Hans Zimmerman.  My daughter told me that I was listening to the violins in his pieces.

---Ann Marie

From Tom Holzman
Posted on September 28, 2011 at 8:16 PM

I agree with what I take Anne to say which is that the Brahms chamber music tends to be better than the orch music.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on September 28, 2011 at 8:07 PM

Hmm . . . I'm afraid I am not a kindred spirit in this regard.  I don't like concertos that much in general, and Hindemith in particular is not a composer I would pay my own money to hear.  And, the screaming girls would have given me a headache.  In contrast, I love the theme from Brahms' 1st Symphony (4th movement) so much that I walked down the aisle to it at my wedding.

But I think it is quite interesting that your son got to see the different reactions of other teens his age, and you described it so well.  It's a fascinating demonstration of what moves different people and why, and a good lesson in tolerance and keeping an open mind, no matter which side of this you relate to most.

From E. Smith
Posted on September 28, 2011 at 8:49 PM

 "The girls in our row screamed." I laughed aloud (in a good way) when I read this. I like the idea of Yo You being treated like a pop star. Why not? The closest reaction to this I've seen was a recital by Renee Flemming where a few people stood up and cheered as she walked out. Ahem, screaming during classical concerts is something that just does not happen in Philadelphia, even when Yo Yo falls backward off the stage, as he did a the grand opening concert for the Kimmel Center. 

On a side note, Hindemith is probably not a good starter composer for the unconvinced! But, Karen, he was himself a violists and has some beautiful sonatas for both solo viola and for viola and piano.  


From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 28, 2011 at 9:54 PM

 Ooh, cool, all these replies! Thank you, Tom, Anne, Ann Marie, Karen and E.

On the screaming girls: yes, it was drawing quite a few chuckles from the general audience, as well, as it went on and on. After the concert that night, as we were walking to our car, I overheard a couple discussing the concert, commenting on the screams, that they'd never heard such an impassioned ruckus. I was tempted to turn around and say "they were youth symphony kids, just out of rehearsal, he's their idol, I was sitting right there next to the loudest group of girls!" but then they might have looked at my son, looked at me, and said, "aha, so YOU'RE the one with the bored son!" Gulp. Kept my mouth shut.

>Ahem, screaming during classical concerts is something that just does not happen in Philadelphia, even when Yo Yo falls backward off the stage, as he did a the grand opening concert for the Kimmel Center. 

Yikes!!! That would certainly merit a scream, to boot. And E, interesting to note that when I asked my son which of the three pieces he liked the most, it was the Hindemith. Doggone... But he did seem to like the Leonore Overture, as well, which was really lovely (and short).

Ann Marie - I just love the music of Hans Zimmer too. Love it. Got a playlist with 6 of his film scores. Particular favorites are Pirates of the Caribbean, but The Dark Knight, as well. And the music from Call of Duty II (no, Anne H, my son does not have that game, we don't allow violent games at this house, no chance whatsoever, but he has these things called friends...) really is gorgeous. My son was able to access it through YouTube onto iTunes or something, and I've heard it and give it a thumbs' up. 

From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 28, 2011 at 10:09 PM

 Now for the Brahms responses.

Anne: yes, keep that helmet on. Not liking the VC! Not the Double Concerto?! The first movement of the VC and the 3rd of the Double rank among my absolute favorites. And I'm only now delving into the piano concertos. I read a Wiki about his no. 1 and apparently it really got panned by the public. Hissed at. Poor Brahms!

Karen, I will listen to the 4th again, here, and visualize you in a white dress. The piece will never feel the same again... (Is that the bit that sounds oddly like Beethoven's 9th? The resemblance was quite strong.) As for the Hindemith, I sort of like it when big name musicians draw me in with their presence at the SFS and present more, um, challenging work. Last time I saw Yo-Yo, it was the Shostakovich no. 2. Only for Yo-Yo... But the Hindemith was actually a fine piece of work, accessible, melodic. Except, um, when it was not.

I think Schoenberg is one composer whose music I might not pay $$ to hear, even if Hilary Hahn were the performer. Just can't even make it through her recording of his VC, as beautifully as she plays. He and John Cage just take it all a bit too far.

Tom: great point on the fact that the screaming teens might have gone a long way in making my son see that classical music can be cool. And a bit of aside humor: when we talked about it the next day and I said, "weren't those screaming girls next to you hilarious?" he replied with a "Yeah, and then Yo-Yo Ma turned around and waved at ME."   He was all puffed with pride about this until I suggested that maybe Yo-Yo waved at him b/c he thought my son had been the one doing all the screaming. ; )

From bill platt
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 4:18 AM

I wore real Bermuda shorts and long socks with jacket and tie to the Orchestra once, back when it was in the Academy. And I parked at least 12 blocks south and walked there and back. It was interesting to get some looks up and down inside. I broke through the polite restraint and saw people's reactions. There wasn't so much attention out on South Broad Street.

I don't remember who played that night. Probably Yo-yo when he was a kid :-)

From Tim Maynard
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 6:57 AM

It seems that some might welcome early Boston critic Phillip Hale's suggestion for putting a sign up in the Symphony Hall, "Exit in case of Brahms!"  His symphonies aren't exactly easy listening, but they reward the effort.  

I think the pairing of Schoenberg and Cage is an odd one.  One is full of order and logic and the other completely free of it.  Having played several works by Cage, I can tell you that it can be great fun for the performer.  I don't know how the audience felt, and at the time I didn't care.  On the other hand, I've never performed Schoenberg, but have seen a very good performance of his Pierrot Lunaire, and I was absolutely mesmerized... this after claiming to HATE Schoenberg based on hearing recordings of his music.  I say give any composer a fair shot with a live performance.  It's just too easy to turn off a CD.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 11:01 AM

 Terez, that theme doesn't "oddly" resemble Beethoven's 9th, I'm pretty sure it was intentional.  Wikipedia says:  "The conductor Hans von Bülow was moved in 1877 to call the symphony "Beethoven's Tenth", due to perceived similarities between the work and various compositions of Beethoven.[3] . . . This rather annoyed Brahms; he felt that this amounted to accusations of plagiarism, whereas he saw his use of Beethoven's idiom in this symphony as an act of conscious homage. Brahms himself said, when comment was made on the similarity with Beethoven, "any ass can see that."[4]"

Brahms does seem to have been an odd and prickly character, I think screaming teenage girls would have made him pretty uncomfortable.

From Tom Holzman
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Hindemith wrote a good deal of relatively tonal music, and his music for unaccompanied violin, unaccompanied viola, and piano and those instruments is quite good and accessible.  When the Nazis were looking for a German composer to lead their vanguard of modern, tonal, non-Jewish music, he was clearly the obvious choice except that he would not play along to the extent they wanted.  I wish Hahn would record his music for unaccompanied violin and for violin and piano.

Brahms had an ambivalent relationship with Beethoven.  He always felt that Beethoven's ghost was looking over his shoulder and for along time never felt he measured up to the standard set by Beethoven's music.  He destroyed a number of early manuscripts because he felt they were unworthy.

From al ku
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 1:22 PM

whereas the musically sophisticated bunch munch on beethovan, bermuda shorts, and brahms, i just want to ask terez why she ruined her son's night by dragging him to a classical concert.  this blog is about her son, people,  so stop chasing around the different composers like a bunch of puppies going after bacon flavored treats.  it is not about YOUR reaction, it is about his reaction.

aren't we supposed to nurture whatever our kids are interested in, and in this case, more computer game themed musical events? just because terez loves classical music, does that mean she has to influence her kid so that he may love it? isn't this similar to the tiger mother but with a more subtle approach (although sitting through this concert seemed anything but subtle to him)?

calm down, terez, of course i am just kidding with the above silly conjectures and inquiries. i find terez's writing on his son's reaction vivid, honest and courageous. my kids are never crazy about classical music so on some level i can identify with terez's mentality. it is rare to see a parent who can candidly depict this dilemma and not turn the ending into a syrupy mess, like, mommy, you were right, can you get me a cello, or i shall settle with a violin..

2 thumbs way up for this great blog!

From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 2:42 PM

 More wonderful comments, thank you, all! Al, I'll start with yours because I'm laughing (after, yes, getting an adrenaline rush in the first part, ha, ha, you funny man, you - you would have loved the expression on my face right then...). I do like the image of puppies running after bacon flavored treats - must remember that line. Just never equated it with classical music. ; )  And, hey, if it makes people reply, I'm including bacon flavored treats in all my posts from here on out!

Anyway, Al, your reply made me smile, and I'm surprised your kids aren't crazy about classical music, when your daughter (and others?) is such an accomplished violinist. That would actually be another very interesting discussion - if one's musically accomplished child's interests extended into a genuine, personal interest in classical music. As a college-age ballet dancer, I was surprised to find how few of my fellow dancers actually liked listening to classical music outside the studio/theater. I would have thought the interests went hand in hand. Not necessarily so.

Continuing on the kids and classical music thought, I have to say I'm glad my son showed such interest in seeing Yo-Yo Ma. He'd been the one to propose it, and I'd been a little surprised. "Mom, everyone knows who Yo-Yo Ma is," he said when I asked how he knew him. Oh, thank you, Yo-Yo Ma, for permeating the thick skulls of mainstream middle school boys. It gives one hope for the future of classical music (and these kids). And, the fact that my son loves Hans Zimmer is just really a very cool thing in my mind. I even did a Google search on his work on Call of Duty: Whatever, Dude ((okay, messed with the title there, feel no compulsion to get it right)) and some of the comments the kids were making about the game mentioned the music, how great it was, how much better the game was for it. You know, if that's as close as those kids get to classical music, it still beats the heck out of just pop music. Again, this little frisson of hope. Also that my son is going out of his way to praise the guy's music, use it in multi-media homework assignments, tell his friends, tell his friends what else Hans Zimmer has done. So. Can't say I wouldn't have loved to have a kid who fell in love with a musical instrument, with classical music, with the symphony. But. I see plenty of silver linings and peripheral opportunities, and as a parent, the best thing I can do for him - and for me - is to nurture those middle ground opportunities/situations. 

Oh dear. I'm hearing strains of sentimental violins in the background and I think I'm turning this ending into a syrupy mess, sorry Al, I tried so hard not to, auuuuuggggghhhh! ((Scene fades to dark as writer crumples onto keyboard, taken over by invisible dark forces, which in turn get taken over by crescendoing syrupy violins.))

From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Sorry about that. Got my creative writing cap on and it got the best of me.

Bill - a picture there would have been worth a thousand words. : ) 

Tim - what a hilarious quote! I wouldn't have thought Brahms would incite such a comment. Bartok, okay. (I'd better duck in case Anne H. is around...) And maybe Shostakovich. (The guy wrote something like 15 symphonies, to boot.) But, as I said, I love, love, love the Brahms concertos, so it surprises me that I haven't taken more to the symphonies. Then again, I was a bit distracted the other night by aforementioned restless son. Listening to a different performance of it, I'm inclined to think it would be a richer experience. And great comments on Schoenberg, Cage. Must confess I've only heard little snippets of Cage (my favorite is his "4'33" composition; must go find it and link it here). But when I think of atonal and/or modern music, those two names rise up. Good PR on their part, I guess.

Karen - bingo. Thanks for the cut/paste.

Tom - didn't Hindemith come up in one of those Holocaust violin books, maybe The Savior? That was the first time I'd heard of him. This was the first time I'd heard his music live (or otherwise, I guess). Yes, that would be nice if Hilary Hahn would record some of his music - she was quite the champion of the Schoenberg and I really admire that about her. (I actually paid full price to acquire the CD when it came out - how's THAT for admiration?)

Okay, here's the link to John Cage's most, and least, atonal piece. How is that possible, you might ask? Well...

From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 3:19 PM

 On the subject of John Cage...

From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 3:29 PM

 Omigod. I'm hijacking this thread. (Wait, can I hijack myself? Maybe we'll just call this an ADHD moment...) I just went to watch the Youtube link to John Cage's 4'33" and it's got 2,254,102 views! Holy Cow. And 10,900 replies. 7000 likes, 2000 dislikes. Classical music is going mainstream as we speak! (Oh dear... did it have to be John Cage, though?) Some of the replies are howlingly funny, not in an intentional way. "I don't get it!" "This is dumb!" "This is so unoriginal!" 

It appears to have made a Top 10 list of classical music videos to watch. Must have been a mainstream publication/list. Great classical music PR. Hilarious, really.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 5:16 PM

Please don't read the Youtube comments.  Reading Youtube comments will destroy your faith in humanity.  (Insert very sad, weeping smiley face here)

Speaking of the tl/dr crowd, you might want to try Brahms' Hungarian Dances.  I'm fond of the Shumsky/Maus violin/piano version, and the Ivan Fischer/Budapest Festival Orchestra orchestra version.  The Boy might like the orchestral version, as they are full of color and life. 

And no endless codas to endure...


From Anne Horvath
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 5:22 PM

Also, I don't mind if you don't love Bartok.

That just makes more Bartok for me!


From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 6:48 PM

Thanks for the tip on the Hungarian Dances. That was actually one of my early symphony experiences, years back, when someone gave me 4 comp tickets to the San Jose Symphony (before it went under). Great, rousing stuff. Prior to that (I am very embarrassed to say, in fact, I'm just going to sort of mutter it, so if you don't catch it, that's okay) I only knew of Brahms because of his lullabies. Gulp. Hey. It was in my ballet years. Brahms didn't write for the ballet.

Change of subject. Aww, don't cry, sad, weeping, smiley face! There's rare humor in those YouTube comments. Wait. Maybe it's just irony. Or the existential hilarity of oblivion. Or maybe you're right. Insert sad, weeping smiley face here now, too.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 6:55 PM

 ... and I am still trying to figure out what a tl/dr crowd is. Uh oh, again I show my ignorance...

From Tom Holzman
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 7:31 PM

Terez - it's your blog, so you are entitled to hijack it.  I cannot remember whether or not Hindemith came up in The Savior, although it is possible.  For further info on Hindemith during the Nazi period, take a look at Michael Kater's book, The Twisted Muse, which is the definitive work on music in Nazi Germany.  

I await Anne's elucidation of what the tl/dr crowd is.

From Charlie Caldwell
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 8:27 PM

Great writing. It felt like I was in the concert hall myself!

From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 9:33 PM

 >take a look at Michael Kater's book, The Twisted Muse

Thanks, I shall.

And Charlie, thanks for the nice words. I'm waiting uneasily for someone to comment, "Hey, I was there, and that was your son up there, during the Brahms? Um, yes. We saw you, then. : )

From al ku
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 9:37 PM

 hello terez, you are a good sport!

i don't know if you kid is currently playing an instrument and if no, i wonder what would he say if you ask him to consider one...

is drum or electronic instruments banned in your house? :)

i just think it is so cool to know how to play guitar or keyboard...

in terms of your favorite instrument, on a scale of 1-10, i wonder how he rates it,,,

From Lisa Van Sickle
Posted on September 29, 2011 at 8:43 PM

I'm in the camp which loves the Brahms symphonies, all four of them.  They are awfully dense and chewy, though.  I think I came to appreciate them through playing them in a way I wouldn't have by just listening.  My orchestra is currently playing Brahms' Variations on a Theme of Haydn.  A few words to describe it: mind-numbing, tedious, tiresome, interminable.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on September 30, 2011 at 12:52 PM

 >My orchestra is currently playing Brahms' Variations on a Theme of Haydn.  A few words to describe it: mind-numbing, tedious, tiresome, interminable.

Oh, Lisa, I'm going to have to hunt this one down just to hear it for myself! : )  I also find the description of "dense and chewy" to be very appealing. Like double-chocolate brownies, or something. 

Al - I don't think my son would make it through even a month of music lessons before either the teacher or himself would be pulling out his/her hair. Not a band kid either. No interest in my violin. But electronic keyboard - yes, good call. The mixing of rhythms and tunes you can do on one appeals to him. I see him gravitating toward film editing, actually. He spent a week at a tech summer class in a filmmaking course. It had him written all over it. He also sings very well, which pleases me b/c I did not play an instrument as a kid but instead sang in choirs. I guess the voice, when you think of it that way, is an instrument. He has a real ear for pitch and musicality.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on September 30, 2011 at 1:14 PM

tl/dr, (also seen as tl;dr, or, for the truly slothful and lazy, tldr), is the abbreviation for Too Long, Didn't Read.

Google is your friend.

From al ku
Posted on September 30, 2011 at 1:10 PM

 great to hear he has and that  you recognize his own true interests. whatever feeds the soul.

 we once had a doberman pincher (it is a dog).  we signed him up for obedience class and after 2 sessions, we were told that it would be better if he could stop coming.  the reason given was that when he was in class, not only did he not listen to any teaching, the whole class was following his lead.  imo, on his own, he did not amount to much either. 

my kids did better, but not that much better, imo.  my older one quited piano once high school started. she was so happy, perhaps relieved she got to quit.

my younger one, the violin kid you know, is ambivalent for the lack of another word that i can come up with.  essentially, she enjoys it if she does not have to practice.  

why are kids doing this to us? :)

From Laurie Niles
Posted on September 30, 2011 at 3:52 PM

 So, Brahms....

I love and adore every symphony. I played them all before ever listening to them as an audience member, and this probably does make a difference in how I have perceived them.

I feel that Brahms 4 is the best-edited one; not that his others are terribly redundant, but I just feel he crystalized his ideas best in four. I adore the slow movement and have had some really moving experiences playing it. Thank you for that Victor Yampolsky -- he actually stopped conducting, such a surprise, just held out his hands while this music swelled all around. Unforgettable moment.

Brahms 1 is moody and meandering, and I adore every second of it. It would never put me to sleep. Then again, I first played it when I was 14, and so I really sucked up every moment into my being!

Brahms 2...if the world was ending and I were allowed to bring along just one recording from Earth, I might just bring along my Karajan recording of this one. I think it would remind me of the natural beauty of earth, the sunshine, and things that made me happy.

But for all that, Brahms 3 to me was the hardest one to get to know, and the one that has most grown on me. When I say it was hard to get to know, I really hated it for a while -- was mad and frustrated with it. What the heck is this about? Somehow I find the last page of it to be deeply moving, the way it ends is a little nostalgic, but quiet, such a contrast to the bombastic beginning. It doesn't end in battle, it ends in some kind of solitude.

That's my 2 cents!

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on September 30, 2011 at 7:53 PM

Terez, I loved your blog!  I probably would have been cracking up at the girls.  But no one mentioned how OLD Yo-Yo Ma is!  That's what made me find the girls' behavior so amazing.  Put 25 years on Hilary Hahn and could you imagine her a teenage heart throb?  (Don't think I'm ageist--I'm that age also.  It's heartwarming, actually.)

From Terez Mertes
Posted on October 1, 2011 at 3:54 AM

 Francesca - I had the same flash of thought at one point, but I have to say this - he has this enormous, ageless, global sex appeal, if that makes any sense. He just seemed to freeze in looks at around age 33 and stay that way forever. (Am I being racist if I say I think Asians can do this better than Europeans and Americans?) And really, what a great age to freeze in. He looks so very, very good, so dynamic, such a pleasure to see live, so at the top of his game night after night. It's really amazing. And yes, how heart-warming that this 49 year old woman should see him as such, and these teen girls be so enamored as well. I just think he represents the best of classical musician meets rock star. And he just so genuinely enjoys the audience, the other musicians, the performing experience, and that really comes across.

Laurie - I'm going to cut and paste everything you wrote here, and it has now become my fall project to acquire and enjoy the Brahms symphonies. And what a delicious homework assignment THAT is. What a great summary of all four symphonies - thanks!


From Terez Mertes
Posted on October 1, 2011 at 4:06 AM

 >tl/dr, (also seen as tl;dr, or, for the truly slothful and lazy, tldr), is the abbreviation for Too Long, Didn't Read.

Anne, I would have never, never, never have guessed that. I didn't even think to Google it. You got me, oh wisest one.

Al - I loved hearing your own household story (bad doggie) and am comforted to know your children, especially that lovely young violinist I've observed on YouTube, aren't perfect. One tends to get the notion, when one has a challenging, strong-willed child determined to be his own self, that all the other kids out there are utterly compliant and the stuff of parental dreams.

From James Patterson
Posted on October 2, 2011 at 10:01 PM

1.  I'm distinctly in a minority here -- I prefer all the Brahms symphonies over the chamber music and the various concertos.  The German Requiem is outstanding too. Variations on a theme of Haydn is not boring to me!

2. As for "too long/ did not read" I hope you at least read until you bog down; someone took a lot of time and energy to comment on your posting.... a tldr dismissal is, well, inappropriate.

From Robert Lundquist
Posted on October 3, 2011 at 12:24 AM

I am taking my granddaughter to see and hear Rachel Pine perform with the Columbus, Ohio Symphony in October.  She asked ME to go to it with her and, of course, that pleased me greatly.  I grew up learning to play the violin and played in Jr. Symphonies long enough to know that there are great young players who had to be born with some gift to excel in a great way, and Rachel Pine is one of those exceptional players.  Listen to her on utube concerts and you will learn quickly about her skills. She tells about her instrument (Guarneri del Gesu) which was picked out for a player during Brahms life by Brahms himself for a great violin player.  I think it is called the ex-Soldat in honor of that person who played it then. Rachel Pine tells all about her career and her instrument in these utubes.  I had an instructor who was about 80 when I was 14 who actually knew Brahms when he was a child in Austria. He said he saw him walking down the street with a blanket around his shoulders. I am hoping my granddaughter really gets the feel for what it really takes to be a great violinist after she hears Mrs. Pine play the violin.

From Peter Kent
Posted on October 3, 2011 at 12:55 AM

Death to the infidels that would find and deliver a harsh word about Brahms...Obviously have antifreeze running in their veins, are deaf, and are probably better served by standing at the base of Niagara Falls than attending a concert.

Brahms #4 is perhaps the best thing ever written for orchestra....and if one doesn't go into a fit of romantic exuberance over the 3rd movt of Symph #3, you're not capable of affection....and for a real treat, listen to the 2nd movt of the A Major Piano Quartet some night with the lights distractions....and tell me there's no god !

We're doing Nanie in one of the orchestras I play in and the conductor is tickled that the choral director will conduct cause he can't do it without crying !

Seriously, Brahms satisfies the head, the heart, and one's naughty bits. 

Couple other comments:  Shonberg's Verklate Nacht is so beautiful and Brahmsian....Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis is pure treasure....but I don't care too much for other than these works by them.





From Terez Mertes
Posted on October 3, 2011 at 4:32 PM

 >2. As for "too long/ did not read" I hope you at least read until you bog down; someone took a lot of time and energy to comment on your posting.... a tldr dismissal is, well, inappropriate.

Yikes, James, I didn't tldr dismiss! I'm still trying to get the definition into my head from what Anne wrote. And you'll be happy to know she didn't tldr anyone' s reply either - her comment was simply "speaking of the tl/dr crowd." I never tl/dr. (I'm still trying to figure out how to use it in a sentence.) Given the lengthy digression of each of my replies here, however, I certainly wouldn't take offense - indeed, I'd understand - if someone should tl/dr my posts.

But thanks for your comments on the Brahms - there are quite a few here, it seems, who love the four symphonies, so it's a must-listen for me. I'm still surprised no one, however, has echoed me in praising the piano concertos. I'm just wholly enamored with them now.

From Terez Mertes
Posted on October 3, 2011 at 4:41 PM

 >I am taking my granddaughter to see and hear Rachel Pine perform with the Columbus, Ohio Symphony in October.  She asked ME to go to it with her and, of course, that pleased me greatly. 

Aww, Robert, that's wonderful. Hope you both enjoy!

>Seriously, Brahms satisfies the head, the heart, and one's naughty bits. 

Peter - the above made me laugh. What a great, succinct description of satisfying music.

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Anne Cole Violin Maker
Anne Cole Violin Maker

Miroirs CA Classical Music Journal
Miroirs CA Classical Music Journal

Classic Violin Olympus

Coltman Chamber Music Competition

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Jargar Strings


Violin Lab



Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine