The past several weeks, a couple of Dutch organists have captured my ear. The YouTube algorithm, “knows” that I frequently watch classical music videos. Nearly every variety of the genre shows up in my feed. Notably absent were pieces played on pipe organs, so I entered “pipe organ” in the search bar.
Soon, several examples were presented and I listened to a few pieces played by different organists. A day later, an artist’s video channel appeared as recommended for me–that of Marco den Toom. His skill and style are mesmerizing and thrilling. I can’t get enough of his playing.
The next day, another organist from the Netherlands appeared in “suggested videos”–Gert van Hoef. Here is another highly skilled musician who plays and improvises flawlessly. In addition, van Hoef is quite young and plays with youthful flare and joy. In fact, it turns out that van Hoef was a child prodigy.
So now, via music videos, I’m getting educated about antique pipe organs and their histories while listening to my two new favorite classical musicians.
Although I have eclectic musical tastes and enjoy songs and music of all types, I lean towards electronica and classical as go-to genres. Marco den Toom and Gert van Hoef have tilted the playing field more towards classical lately because of their highly skilled, beautiful playing. Because of them, more classical music of other types is reappearing in my life with greater force.
I wish the classical music community wasn’t such a relatively small social category. Perhaps the general public believes that classical music is stuffy and effete. Some people mistakenly believe classical music is the same thing as easy-listening or the background music heard via “Muzak” in department stores. It seems that they haven’t opened their hearts and given themselves the chance to fully understand and experience classical music.
To love classical music is not to dislike other forms of music. Classical music opens new understanding about other genres. Say for instance, you like jazz. To hear jazz after being positively exposed to classical music, helps the listener deepen her love of jazz. To understand the basics and the works of the great masters of classical music opens the mind to hidden qualities of music with other histories and cultures.
Another aspect of classical music is that it is international in scope. There are great classical musicians from nations around the world. Such Asians as Yo-Yo Ma, Sarah Chang, and Midori are only a few of the highly talented and publicly esteemed players of classical music. I’ve long been a fan of the classical Indian violinist Johar Ali Khan. His music takes me to another world.
The creation of classical music didn’t stop evolving at the end of the nineteenth century. It continues in new forms on contemporary instruments. New instruments have been invented as music itself has evolved. Also new instruments have enabled classical music to evolve.
One of the masters of twenty-first century classical music is electronica genius Jean-Michel Jarre. He has not only expanded the scope of music, he has personally invented new instruments and used them in conjunction with traditional and even ancient instruments in his massive public concerts.
Jarre wasn’t the first composer musician to expand modern classical music. We need only look to Aaron Copland, the “Dean of American Composers”. His music characterizes distinctly American themes in a twentieth century style. His work blended jazz, folk, Latin, and traditional classical forms. Without a doubt Copland’s name belongs with those of earlier centuries.
I could go on and on about Hayden, Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach for Classical Music Month. However, there is another video from Marco den Toom waiting for me on the Web.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes composer/musician Brian Eno. “Although cover notes for classical music albums tend to say that the trill of flutes suggest mountain streams and so on, I don’t think anybody listens to music with the expectation that they’re going to be presented with a sort of landscape painting.”