V.com weekend vote: What was your 'love at first listen' piece?

February 13, 2022, 4:47 PM · This week for Valentine's day, my local classical music station is airing a feature called Love at First Listen. Over the last few weeks, they asked listeners to write in and tell them which piece of music made them fall in love with classical music, and they have compiled those stories and are playing the music.

Love Violins
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Nice idea! So I wanted to ask V.com readers: what is your "love at first listen" piece? What is the piece of music that made you fall in love with violin music? I wanted to leave open the possibility that it was not actually classical music, so that is why I'm calling it "violin music."

Also, since I couldn't possibly anticipate the actual pieces in the vote, I'm asking you to answer the question in a general way in the vote, then please describe the piece in the comments. What was the piece of music? When did you hear it? What made you love it so much? Do you still love that piece? Did you ever get to play that piece? Was the artist part of what made you love the piece?

For me - wow, it's a hard question, so I'll describe a few pieces that made me fall in love with violin music:

• "Waltz of the Flowers" from Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Ballet" - when I was nine years old, I was taking ballet lessons, and I had just started taking violin. I was doing a few too many activities to fit our schedule, so I had to give up something, and I decided to give up ballet so I could spend more time on violin. (It was a pretty easy equation: I was bad at ballet, good at violin!) I was going to dance in one more recital, and our class was dancing to "Waltz of the Flowers." When I informed my teacher that I'd be quitting so I could play the violin, she said brightly, "Well maybe one day you will play the Waltz of the Flowers!" I thought, "Wow, no way is that possible...." But indeed, she was right! What a perfectly kind thing for her to say to me, at that young age.

• Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto - I grew up in Denver, Colorado, and my hero was the violinist Eugene Fodor, a hometown classical hero who really made a splash, taking the top prize at the 1974 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. A family friend gave me a cassette tape of Fodor's recording of the Tchaikovsky concerto and Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso by Saint-Saens, and I listened to it hundreds of times, until I basically wore out the tape. Just listening to the opening bars of that piece makes me feel like someone is putting a warm comforter around me.

• Stravinsky's Petrouchka - Yes, I had a huge crush on a trumpet player for a while in high school. Nothing came of it - except a huge love for "Petrouchka," a piece I absolutely adore to this day. I feel like this was my first "love at multiple listens" piece that threw me into a relationship with classical music that was a little more complex. I invested in listening to this piece, and my feelings for this music grew very deep.

It's interesting, a lot of the music that I love now is different from those pieces that sparked my initial interest. (I'm noticing, it was all Russian music!) I am more drawn now to Bach, for example. But I also still absolutely love the music that first drew me in!

What was your 'love at first listen' piece that made you love violin music? And please tell us about it specifically, in the comments!

Replies

February 13, 2022 at 11:34 PM · I purposely did not think my vote through and then overthink it. The composition that I loved (and still love) when I first listened to it is Wieniawski, Concerto #2 in d minor, Op.22; it happened late in high school (perhaps the summer between junior and senior year- classic case of "Summer loving," [that was shameless reference to 'Summer Nights' from the movie Grease]; I love everything in the piece, the melodies throughout the three movements along with the technique, and yes, I still love the piece, especially when I am wrestling with the technical obstacles in his other concerto (Op.14). I was able to perform the 2nd movement (Romance) for my senior recital shortly after high school graduation. Finally, the artist in the cassette recording was Michael Rabin.

February 13, 2022 at 11:55 PM · I heard Jascha Heifetz play "On Wings of Song" by Mendelssohn on the radio, I think maybe the Bell Telephone hour, when I was a boy of about five or six. I fell in love with the violin. And that has lasted my whole life.

February 14, 2022 at 12:27 AM · My mom bought a record (yeah) that featured the instruments of the orchestra there were songs that were sung that also featured each instrument ?? "I'm Peter Percussion wow what a wonderful guy!"?? of course "Lucy-Lynn the Violin" that one was pretty sappy but I still remember it. I think the big programmatic pieces like Scheherazade and Holt's The Planets fascinated me they sounded like so much fun. Of course the Bugs Bunny operatic cartoons get an honorable mention.

February 14, 2022 at 12:45 AM · It's a bit hard to remember and pick just one, but I loved the Star Wars soundtrack. I especially loved "Binary Sunset," during which Luke looks up at the two moons of his home planet and dreams of going to the stars. There is a gorgeous violin orchestral track during that scene that I find very moving.

I also loved the Handel sonatas, especially the one in F major (second movement), and going back a long way, the theme from Judas Maccabeus that I heard a more advanced student play during a holiday concert when I had been playing for approximately 3 months and was still stuck on Twinkle.

February 14, 2022 at 01:15 AM · A turning point for me was going to the cinema with my family when 12 years old and watching Amadeus. It had a pretty big impact on me - I still adore those recordings.

One piece that really enthralled me was Mozart's Symphony No. 29. Such a great, happy melody and rhythm. My father immediately saw the enthusiasm and promptly wrote out a solo for me (using manuscript he had drawn up with ink and a five-nibbed manuscript pen!). It was the first piece I REALLY worked hard at, trying to make it sound as good as possible. I just loved it, and still do.

Not much later, I heard Claire de Lune, which remains my absolute favourite.

A piece that renewed my enthusiasm years later was the Schubert Quintet.

February 14, 2022 at 01:22 AM · I learned to play the fiddle six years ago at the time a more advanced student was playing Jerusalem Ridge. The following year my teacher was trying out a couple of fiddles for me, as I was ready to upgrade. Jerusalem Ridge was one of the tunes she played, and as soon as I heard it, I knew which fiddle was for me. I determined at that point I would learn to play that tune and I eventually did. It is still one of my favorites.

February 14, 2022 at 02:13 AM · I was seven years old when my parents took me to see/hear my first (classical) concert. To be honest, I have no idea what the orchestra was playing but I do remember loving the sound of the violin. Right after the concert I asked my parents if I can learn to play the violin. Not long after, my mom took me to meet my first teacher who was Suzuki trained. My teacher then helped us get my first violin. I was hooked! I always loved Baroque and Romantic violin concertos/pieces, and this is what I've played and still play to this day.

February 14, 2022 at 02:25 AM · Walton viola concerto. It was the first concerto I heard in person, for any instrument. I heard it when I was 12, at my first classical concert; I'd just moved back to the US from Dubai where I had minimal exposure to either classical music or Western string instruments. Later on, although I started on violin, I always intended to switch to viola at the first opportunity.

February 14, 2022 at 02:43 AM · Jascha Heifetz's recording of Mozart's Rondo in G Major, K 250 ("Haffner") arranged by Fritz Kreisler. I had just started on the violin when I was 13 years old when I first heard this. That was it for me!

February 14, 2022 at 06:09 AM · {10} As a child I used to hear my pianist Mother practise late at night and would listen intently to a Brahms Scherzo for Piano which I utterly Loved and looked forward to whenever she would return to the Brahms Scherzo so cherished! Although I never became a concert playing pianist it was a spark which lit something in my young soul which made me yearn hearing all the Music of Johannes Brahms while also gazing at a painted colour portrait of Brahms on a Front Cover of this Piano work of Brahms' Scherzo in g minor! Adding to it was my awed and overwhelmed reaction of bedazzlement had to Abbey Simon's playing of Prokofiev's El Precipitato for Solo Piano bringing a rush to my mind, brain, heart and music loving soul, so much so, I tried finding a recording & had to wait a long time to finally hear Emil Gillels then Mischa Dichter playing - Owning this to me thrilling piece of the young genius Prokofiev!! All led to my great love of all works Prokofiev on my instrument, the Violin, & a Love Affair still alive & well with goosebumps every time I get to hear either Gilels or glorious American Pianist, Mischa Dichter, perform thrilling a Force of Nature Olympic Challenge Piano Top of the Mountain Piece by Prokofiev!!!

All mentioned above formed my initial inspiration for Music and its making on the violin yet I've saved Best for Last work which brought Awe and breathlessness overcoming me which gave

one the needed thrust to Play it onstage upon hearing Great David Oistrakh, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, and before my teen years, seeing him play Aram Khachaturian's Violin Concerto standing firm holding his Strad high yet level with a presence of mastery that made my jaw drop open with disbelief yet witnessening The Great Oistrakh from a faraway country we would hear of on radio broadcasts named Russia! Oistrakh, to my young eyes/ears was a God of immeasurable proportions which seemed So High one thought it impossible to play the violin, ever! Yet w/a brilliant father-teacher guiding me & with a sports mentality approach to practicing & looking after my physical body health, I improved via numerous kind offerings in our local church of Unaccompanied Bach Mvt's evolving into full Sonatas & later Partitas as a regular routine where one was playing not for a congregation but for God and the Minister after-prior to the Sunday Sermon which was just a small part of the Service giving me chance's to play my home practicing Bach in a spiritual space where we were told God loved us all ...

To this day, I feel it vitally important to add a spiritual element to Music & specifically to the 'holy' music of Unaccompanied Bach on a violin looking Up in worship of the Creator whom I

'see' and feel in the compositional outline of Bach's great yet straight forward simple music!!

Another Joy jolting me to hunker down practise was the Aram Khachaturian Violin Concerto quite a bit later after first hearing & seeing the Great Oistrakh play in the huge over 4000 seat Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, and which would eventually lead me right to Jascha Heifetz, & after Mr. Heifetz had heard my LA debut in the Khachaturian Violin Concerto 1st Mvt with the power house USC Concert Orchestra under superb Met Opera Conductor, Walter Ducloux, & WWII friend hiding out

from Nazi's looking for both Walter Ducloux and closest friend, Conductor, Georg Solti, both starving & by grace, taken in by a caring Suiss Family into their basement with daily food to help

keep both on-the-run young men from the Gestapo ~ The vital enthusiasm of Ducloux at being free in America to pursue his operatic gifts & dreams found its way into unique identification with the exotic & also profound moments in the Khachaturian 1st Mvt score which we bonded with & fused together with the glorious USC Symphony loaded with to-become LA Phil Stars

and Names known throughout the Concert World of Music!!! When one is exposed to great & just As Is Music minus much intelligencia pondering one's imagination & dreams begin to form & via the Music moods and harmonic heart nature of the Composer. For me, Aram Khachaturian's 'Wow' Factor was in his openly heart-on-sleeve harmonies and dripping emotion casbah-like in much of his Violin Concerto & Ballet's Spartacus {to die for!} and Ballet Suite No. 1 & after which the gorgeous Gayneh Suite gained Khachaturian French Legion 'de Honeur for his Epic Compositions and I personally believe, his Score for Spartacus! The Armenian mix with the Khachaturian DNA Gifts of oozing emotional feelings in his unique fushia-purples is far & away beyond the earlier compositional imagining's of even Sergei Prokofiev, tho' delicious in his 1st Violin Concerto Opening Mvt +sensational Scherzo w/near Star Wars swished special effects as set down on EMI disc by my mentor, Nathan Milstein & Carlo Maria Giulini, Conductor bonded at a musical Hip of Milstein as no other recording of the daring into as yet unventured harmonic emotional territory at the time!!

Off Subject, suffice to say, many great works of Music inspired me to play violin to be close to a World of Dreams in Sound & minus verbal argument with Music the Centerpiece by those

re-creating it from manuscript scores of Giant's Gone Before Them - Bach, Mozart, Brahms, LvB, Schumann, Schubert, his {Great C Major Symphony, Wow!}; Saint Saens, Faure, Cesar

Franck, Lalo, Berlioz {Symphonie Fantastique, amazing= life cycle}; Hindemith, {Mathis de Mahler}, Stravinsky 'Rite' Oh Boy!; Prokofiev, Alban Berg, Borodin, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Britten {Opera, Peter Grimes!}, Shostakovich, Ernst Chausson {glorious Prayer, Poeme} & so many other glorious masterworks which fill our every day needs when truly needed, the violin reveals the heart and soul of its momentary creator of composition via Sound/s which is time honoured and must be discussed frequently to refresh our youth filled memories of 'Love Music' for Music to withstand the current environment of 'Tear it Down' and build What?! Our Future is in Our Collective Pasts=Good, Bad, Ugly and great High's w/deep in the Valley Low's which Music conveys and carries us when so needed ~

Submitted with Gratitude,

~ Elisabeth Matesky ~

*Having lost a treasured friend today R I P dear R. S. ~

February 14, AM, Anno 2022

Fwd dg

February 14, 2022 at 07:17 AM · Wieniawski Violin Concerto no.1 in F sharp minor, played by Itzhak Perlman. I first heard it on local radio and taped it on cassette. I listened and fell in love with many pieces of music in this way, but this one stands out. I love the dramatic orchestral opening, setting the stage for the entry of the violin, the pyrotechnics in the first movement. Then there's the soulful, dreamy second movement, that I would try to play from memory on my fiddle during my practice time. The last movement somehow doesn't seem to 'fit' the rest of the work. But all in all, I love it. I don't listen to it as often as before, but whenever I do, it's like the return of an old friend. Good times, good memories!

February 14, 2022 at 11:07 AM · Sorry, I can't vote this time. I started to learn the violin at 5, because that is what Dad played (He also played viola, but I wasn't going to be started with that, was I), and I had first held a violin in my hands when I was 3. So it's like a guy's first girlfriend being the girl next door (Mine wasn't, by the way). I haven't a clue which piece of music would have attracted me, whether it was something Dad played or something over the radio (The two things I particularly remember hearing over the radio a few times were Mozart's Hallelujah, and Sheep may Safely Graze. We didn't get a gramophone until a little later. The first violin recording I remember was a borrowed 78rpm of Giaconda de Vito playing one of the Bach concertos - The 78 Dad later bought for me was a cheaper one by a lesser known violinist, name beginning Bra...).

February 14, 2022 at 11:35 AM · with me it was the "Meditation de Thaïs", a long time ago, but at present, to be honest I don't care too much anymore about that piece... anyway, at the time it did the job!

February 14, 2022 at 12:32 PM · Bach Chaconne. I was about 7 yrs. old. A violinist of the Berlin PO played the Chaconne in a small church in a little town in Nothern Germany. It was the first time I heard many tones together at the same time. I was bombed off my seat by listening such fullness of a violin sound... One year later I got a violin together with the music sheets of the Chaconne. But it took a little time... ;-)

February 14, 2022 at 12:32 PM · Paganini's 24 Caprices played by Itzak Perlman, which was released in 1972. Also a record of Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

When I was very young we had a narrated children's record based on Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite which may also have had Peter and the Wolf. I listened to all of them over and over.

February 14, 2022 at 02:13 PM · Vocalise played on WQXR over 40 years ago as the new overnight host Nimet signed off at 0500 while I was getting ready for work. I had accomplished my goal of being able to play Hymns from the Episcopal Hymnal on the violin and was satisfied until I realized, that early morning, "I want to learn how to play that!"

It took me on the deep-dive learning a whole lot more about the violin and music in general. I found myself inside the "bound infinity" of music and the violin and it changed my life. FWIW: I got a booster the first time I heard Mendelssohn's Octet - that captures my soul every time I hear it.

February 14, 2022 at 04:14 PM · While Vivaldi’s Four Seasons may have been one of the big pieces early on in high school to kick-start my obsession of the violin, I have to go with Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloe, which I went and saw for my birthday in 2014. The dawn sequence is gorgeous, but in terms of a section that made me fall in love with the violin, the strings section right after the first climax will forever be a special bit of music in my heart. (The Danse Religieuse at rehearsal 5.)

February 14, 2022 at 04:45 PM · My 'love at first listen' music was Bach's Double Violín Concerto in D minor. I saw the performance of the concerto in the film Music of the heart with Meryl Sreep and it was very motivating. The scene included musicians as Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Arnold Steinhardt as well as Mark O'Connor, playing at the Carnegie Hall. Watching that film was an important experience where sound, image and music met and made me take the decision to learn violin.

February 14, 2022 at 08:06 PM · I love these stories!

February 14, 2022 at 10:32 PM · Bach

Concerto for two violins in D Minor

I was about 6 or 7. Didnt know what it was but thought it the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard.

February 15, 2022 at 12:41 AM · An orchestral piece. Tchaikovsky's Symphony 6, the Pathétique, kick-started my ambition to start violin. I was 7 y/o when I first heard this score on a recording from my parents' collection. At first hearing, the agitated string passages early in the first movement exposition reminded me a little of the composer's string writing for his Miniature Overture to the above-mentioned Nutcracker Ballet.

Then a professional orchestra played at my elementary school. Now I could see, not just hear, how musicians brought symphonic scores to life. This drove my early ambition to become a professional symphony player myself - an ambition I abandoned at 21 y/o. Never did play Pathétique, in concert - although, if I'd kept doing orchestra, I probably would have played it by now. But toward the end of my degree program, I could see that small chamber playing suited my personality and preferences far better than orchestra playing did.

No regrets. I completed the degree program but did no more orchestra playing after 21. I still listen heavily to orchestral music - and continue to practice and play violin, usually 90 minutes a day or a little longer.

February 15, 2022 at 06:00 AM · When I was a teenager and talking violin lessons my mother who was a contralto had a 33/13 record with Ida Haendel playing Praeludium and Allegro which I still love. Also it had a Bruch violin concerto which I love.

I understand that Perlman played Praeludium more than any other solo piece! I loved the various parts and the action it has.

February 15, 2022 at 06:00 AM · When I was a teenager and talking violin lessons my mother who was a contralto had a 33/13 record with Ida Haendel playing Praeludium and Allegro which I still love. Also it had a Bruch violin concerto which I love.

I understand that Perlman played Praeludium more than any other solo piece! I loved the various parts and the action it has.

February 15, 2022 at 09:55 AM · I mentioned Meditation de Thaïs before, but seeing Joshua mention Vivaldi 4 Seasons I must say that was the music that initially did it for me when I was still a young child.

February 15, 2022 at 03:50 PM · Brahms sym 4, I remember hearing the beginning of that when I was 19 and after that only classical music, before that much the same as any other teenager, too late to make a career out of it

February 15, 2022 at 10:08 PM · Honestly? Probably the third Minuet from the first Suzuki book, which I apparently went around singing to myself when I was 2 or 3. In middle school, like so many people, I aspired to play Tchaikovsky. But then in high school, I discovered the second Bartok Concerto and felt like I'd cracked open a whole new secret world (albeit one that I would never enter, except as a listener.)

February 16, 2022 at 02:06 AM · As from ~ Lover of Tchaikovsky's 'Pathetique' ~ {27}

Just a response to Jim Hastings 1st Tchaikovsky 'Pathetique' Symphony No 6 which is Glory to Highest via Tchaikovsky's own emotional DNA channeled into his first time heard 6th

Symphony 2nd Movement, 'Allegro con grazia', when weeping spread rampantly throughout a full house Hall of Russian Soul's audience which has continued since its Debut Moscow Performance and which Composer, Tchaikovsky, wrote: 'The Pathetique is the cornerstone of all my life composition!' What a powerful statement from 'The Father of the Russian Soul' in acclaimed Sixth Symphony which when performing it {and I've had this privilege + bowing all string parts: Violin I, II, Viola, Violoncello and Basso, for a Tribute Concert here at home in Chicago, to coordinate All String Bowings in sync to phrased Wind & Brass breaths to hopefully sound as One Long Fully Coordinated Bow ~ }

Mr. Hastings could not have wished for a more inspiring First Hear Music which obviously captured his musical heart and soul yet may have been too young to fully comprehend the 'Why' but it didn't matter because his Life was re-routed or assured of a Path to Joy, Anguish, Loving feelings, Passion and of deepest Sorrow, all contained within One Glorious 6th Symphony by Tchaikovsky who passed shortly following the premiere of his Epic Symphony Orchestral Masterpiece... Jim Hastings is a very 'wealthy' man in special currency less then more can truly fathom nor possibly ever understand ~

~ Delighted to have returned to read more intriguing Stories! ~

.......... Elisabeth Matesky in Chicago ..........

^carrier of the heifetz-milstein violin playing/mentoring legacy^

~ Tuesday, February 15, 2022 ~

Fwd dg

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