Monday, June 06, 2005

The Hardest 25 Minutes Of Music You'll Listen To

I'm talking about John Adams' On the Transmigration of Souls, the piece Adams got a commission to write commemorating 9/11. It's not the hardest music by any means. Some people find John Adams and other minimalist composers hard to listen to but I very much do not. Why is this so hard then? Because it brings back the way I felt on 9/11 more than anything else I could ever imagine. The kind of ethereal sounds that dominate Adams' compositions are perfect for this kind of commemoration and he uses his powers to the fullest extent here. I'm not very good at recognizing meanings in older classical music but in this piece the sounds deeply resonate with the way I felt on that day. Under the sounds are people reading from notes that people posted around the city after the attacks with descriptions of loved ones and memorial notes talking about how much the person was loved. In another part are just the names of some of the dead. Now that's hard to listen to. It's great music and I couldn't imagine a better piece of music to commemorate 9/11 but I almost dread listening to it.