The Big Think

October 29, 2006


Filed under: Music — jasony @ 11:18 pm

When I was studying music in college, one of my favorite things to do was to go up to the music library at Baylor and check out orchestral scores. I’d sit and listen to the recordings and follow along in the scores. There is no better way to learn how to write than to sit at the feet of the masters, and next to being a copyist (a duty I’ve had the privilege of executing), following a score while listening to a recording (or better yet, to a live orchestra), is Schooling with a capital ‘S’.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do this since my Baylor days ended. Scores are expensive to come by-roughly $50 for a good one. I’ve often dreamed of getting a small collection together slowly so that one day I might have some of the great ones around for reference and learning.

Erin returned from visiting her family in Houston today. While she was there, her father filled her trunk full of legal-records-size boxes. When she brought them home, I carried them in, wondering what he had given us. Upon opening the boxes, I was shocked to discover his gracious, unbelievable, wondrous gift. This man, who spent the better part of a century as a sought after choirmaster and conductor in Houston, had given us his entire collection of orchestral and choral scores. Faure’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven Masses, Wagner, Berlioz, Puccini, Bach. On and on and on. For some of the works there’s just the full score, while some of the packages have the individual part sheets as well, complete with markings by the performers. I just got off the phone with Erin’s dad, gushing my profound thanks for his generosity. It’ll take me several hours to catalog the prizes that are there and make a full list (which I’ll post here), then I’ll embark on the task of tracking down a recording of every piece in the list. I’m giddy.

It may seem silly to someone who doesn’t understand the profound impact music can have, but as I type this I have tears in my eyes. What a treasure trove.

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