Thanks to Music

Thanks to MusicThis week I’m going to be unashamedly personal, thanks to music. Indeed, I want to say thank you – to friends and well-wishers, fellow writers, musicians of all kinds and the universe.

To put you in the picture – several weeks ago I booked tickets for a concert to take place this past week at the Wigmore Hall.

inner reader, mystery womanIt appealed to me for all sorts of reasons. There was history, discovery (some of the programme was so obscure I thought I’d probably never hear it live again), drama, even youth studies. There was a band I love.

And then there was a sort of deep satisfaction in participating in a major enterprise that would last as long as Mozart’s life.


romantic novelist busy editingYou knew there would be a but, didn’t you? Shortly after the tickets arrived, I woke up one morning with a blocked ear. Well, sometimes it was just the one. Sometimes both.

If I took a deep breath and blew my nose hard, my ears popped. But then I went back to feeling as if my aural cavities had been vacuum-packed for travel and I couldn’t hear the front door bell. Couldn’t hear myself think.

Improving – but slowly

Fire Oranges Happy Christmas 2017

Christmas was lovely. I almost forgot I was hard of hearing.

As a result I turned round and walked into a number of innocent shoppers whom I hadn’t heard come up behind me. Before Christmas they were all either too jollied up or too exhausted to snap. Forgiving anyway. After Christmas, not so much.

Writing was a different matter. I kept playing the radio and turning the volume down, bar by bar, to see whether I was hearing any better. The doctor had shown me the faces I should pull while brushing my teeth. Nope. Still pretty much uni-eared.

So then I had to keep jumping up to check phone, kettle, cat flap, even the front door, didn’t I? Concentration? Forget it.

And it was January. Dark. Cold. The latest sunrise of the year. Did I really want to go out, even for music?

Friends, Well-Wishers and Writers, Thank You

Every single one of you urged me to go. And then a friend who was in actual recovery from a really nasty infection volunteered to accompany me. A combination of competitive endurance and simple shame got me to the Wigmore Hall.

Not with high expectations, to be honest. After all, how much was I going to be able to hear? It might turn out to be the music of the spheres – a long, long way away.

Musicians, Thank you

Thanks to Music, 18th century, harpsichord, singerThe title was 1770 – a retrospectiveIt was part of conductor Ian Page’s musical journey through time, in this case Mozart’s fourteenth year. (His birthday was 27th January.)

He spent most of it in Italy, but the music in this concert also comes from other great musical centres of Europe – Vienna, London, Naples, and Esterháza – as well as the two arias from Milan which saw Mozart’s first great operatic success, Mitridate, re di Ponto.

Thanks to Music

Gluck, composer. Thanks to Music.And there were revelations. Haydn, setting Goldoni texts for the first time, delivered his wonderful humane sympathy and humour – and a peach of a naughty character for soprano, Samantha Clarke, a born actress.

Gluck (left) ignoring war and telling the story of conflicted love from the point of view of the lovers, Paris and Helen, was spellbinding.

Almacks, King Street. J C Bach concerts Johann Christian Bach’s Symphony in G Minor was dramatic and unexpectedly moving. Probably it was played in concerts at Almack’s Assembly Rooms in King Street.

Rather strong meat for a Georgette Heyer heroine, I suspect. Or a hero either, for that matter. Even the most fashionable of them don’t seem to be musical. Or am I wrong?

Farinelli, castrato. Thanks to MusicBut the duets were the absolute jewel of this evening. By Haydn, Gluck, JC Bach, Jamelli (of whom I’d never heard, though he was both talented and prolific) and Mozart himself! All  gloriously sung by Samantha Clarke and mezzo Ida Ränzlöv, half Cherubino, half Farinelli (left)!

Both acted beautifully too, restrained but so expressive you didn’t have to follow the translation to know what was going on.

And Additional Thanks to the Music…

There were tears more than once, I admit. This music does after all, coincide with the first stirrings of the romantic sensibility. And Mozart sure knew how to wring the heart with a horn solo, even at 14. Blast him.

And whether it was the cold, or the exercise, or having to blow my nose quietly, or simply the gathering of tears in the first place – my ear is no longer blocked. I heard perfectly throughout the concert. Not so much as a hiccup since.

Writing, here I come.

Sophie Weston AuthorSophie

12 thoughts on “Thanks to Music

  1. Joanna

    So glad the ear is better and that you’re raring to go again. Never heard that Mozart aria before, and Miah Persson (on the Youtube version) is new to me too. Beautiful legato line and a great voice.

    Oh and I loved the Sophie-ism: uni-eared. Made me grin.

  2. lesley2cats

    So glad you are no longer uni-eared (I loved that, too, Joanna). And thank you for the Mozart link.

  3. Rosemary Gemmell

    What a lovely, positive post, Sophie. I love listening to music (even while I write) and can only imagine what a wonderful evening this must have been – I used to enjoy Gluck’s Dance of the Blessed Spirits music from Orpheus and Eurydice. Glad your ear responded to the music (or tears)!

    1. Sophie Post author

      Oh, the Dance of the Blessed Spirits is one of my all time perfect pieces, Ros. So utterly beautiful and dreamlike. Less a dance than a sort of ecstatic drifting, I’ve always thought.

      Yes, it was very nice to be able to write about unalloyed joy and delight, after what has been a dark year for me and many others, and not a very propitious start to this one either! Saying thank you feels like spreading the love, I suppose.

  4. Sarah Mallory

    A wonderful, uplifting story, Sophie, thank you so much for sharing it with us. Live concerts have a special magic all of their own and I am so glad you made the effort to go – and well done to your friend for encouraging (bullying???) you to go!

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