As a child, sometime before Grade One, I encountered a radio/gramophone combination that frightened the music right out of me.

I assume I must have heard the radio before. And I would think I had heard music before. But maybe not to this degree. And certainly not in such volume.

My visual memory is of the odd configuration to the house. We lived in a flat over a commercial garage. There had to be a number of rooms, but I only remember two large connected rooms, going the length of the house. They were each elongated as it was, and were the stuff of apprehension at the best of times. At dusk, or in the evening, there was the feeling of entering some other world. Not a forest perhaps, but a place of shadows where animals and other assorted unpleasant surprises could stalk my passage. And then – presumably – they could leap out, regardless of how carefully one manoeuvred through the gloom. I don’t know if I ever told my parents of this gauntlet I had to face at certain times of the day. But it certainly gave me pause at the best of times. And dusk was not the best of times. Or a weekend family get together after supper. Which is what I believe this was.

I know I was part way through one of the rooms, and getting ready to enter the other. There was still a distance to walk when a loud noise filled the air. I was frightened, but did not run or duck. I froze. It was music. It would not have been an unknown sound, so that is probably why I did not flee.

However, it was music as I had never heard it. I peered the length of the second room, but saw nothing different. I saw my parents seated – as they often were – beside the radio. They were obviously happy and not frightened by the ‘noise’. I was both stock-still and confused. Since they were not troubled I decided to run to them.

I don’t know if the music was in some manner explained to me (I presume it would have been). What they were listening to was an LP of orchestral classical music. My knowledge now makes me imagine it was something wonderfully bombastic by Tchaikovsky. I presume they might have been playing it louder than their usual radio programs. But it made a stirring impression on me, lasting decades.



Budapest Classical Music Concerts