Sunday Afternoon at the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, or Beethoven’s Fifth

Before Beethoven, there was Schumann, and before Schumann, you had to get through Bartok. As we worked backward through the centuries, the music got better. Bartok made me feel as if I was watching an old black and white movie that I did not want to see. Schumann was much better. But then Beethoven, oh Beethoven. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony was worth waiting through Bartok, and the last movement was the best of all. Every note a friend from my childhood – every note and rest and dynamic could be anticipated and expected, and did not disappoint. What is the world when notes and rests can come back like friends to say hello, nice to see you again. I remember you in the basement all by yourself when you danced your heart out and no one else knew your joy. I remember stolen trips in the car to Albany, Binghamton, Anywhere. Anywhere where you could get away from those who did not understand to bask in the utter grandness, solemnity, and joy that is the Finale of Beethoven’s Fifth. I remember being the one who had the privilege of introducing you to the music that would steal your heart forever. Real Music. Music of the spheres that comforted you and gave you joy when nothing else did. Music that was a gift to you from God when you needed it the most. The music remembered me and I remembered it. And each of the last several triumphant notes knew I expected them, and gave their all to shout – Hallelujah! Amen!

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