Occasionally, in my place of business, I build relationships of mild recognition with customers that account to little more than friendly acknowledgement of one another and slightly more than the usual “small talk” that haunts the breezeways of many retail environments. Though I find it important to note that we usually build strong connections with customers that hearken back to the days of “mom and pop” shops. Recently, while working, I felt that the sun shine demanded a soundtrack of triumphant hope that would perhaps curtail my mood to one of winning possibility for the rest of the evening. Once I had tuned the radio to the generic “classical music” station and gone about my duties, I settled into harmonious if not lackadaisical appreciation of the way the music seemed to color my familiar environment with a brand new palette. However, I confess a private shame at my complete and utter lack of knowledge as pertains to classical music. Though I am aware of the general feel and key conversation topics of classical music, I have maintained an almost complete ignorance of composers, conciertos, or beautiful sonatas of note. It struck me that I must appear to most as a fair weather fan of classical pieces of music.
It was while I mused on my own misgivings that one such customer of mild recognition asked if the music I was listening to was the work of a particular composer. Not only did he know the composer of the piece, but he was also able to name the specific piece along with its key. After confessing how impressed I was with his knowledge, I made him aware of my cavernous lack of knowledge about classical music. I asked if he might recommend a composer who could guide me in my quest for appreciation. Right before my eyes the customer shed the common etiquette of a man in a retail environment and donned the mannerisms so often worn by those who are about to explain how they fell in love; in this case with the composer Pyotr Illyich Tchaikosky.
His hands danced in the air as an invisible orchestra played his favorite triumphant music only for him. He wildly declared that I would find nothing short of bliss in the driven crescendos that punctuate the Russian composers highly buoyant music. He conjured visions of a confident drive into battle, laughing with the wild assurance of one who has a secret knowledge of guaranteed victory. Drunk of his passionate exclamations I purchase a massive collection of the composers music right in front of the customer and promised him that when next we met, I would have listened to the music he so closely kept to his soul.
For a week I listened to nothing but Tchaikovsky and I began to notice music I had always been aware of amidst the larger berth of his work. However much I enjoyed the music, It did not kindle eye opening love within me until the swelling overtures of his first concerto provided a contrasting soundtrack to the harsh winter conditions I walked through in downtown Grand Rapids . Snow fell hard and wet all around as I trudged along a bridge attempting to make my way home from an evenings errands. At my halfway mark the raucous BUM BUM BUM and triumphant accompaniments bolstered my mood with a confidence that set me positively dancing and running under lamp lit skies as if to dare nature herself to do worse and see if I weren’t up for the task. From that moment on, I have felt a child like exuberance each time I listen to the composer. His music elicits a juvenile sense of immortality in me; something I was almost certain to never feel again.
When next I saw John, the customer who recommended to Tchaikovsky to me, I was certain to thank him with all of my heart. He responded by stating that our first interaction concerning the music had left him joyous for days thereafter. I smiled and played a piece from The Nutcracker as he left the store.