The Power of Music

John O’Conor is my music hero.

The Irish pianist first performed for me when I was thirteen. Before then, classical music was only a small part of my vocabulary. The first song he played was the typical, grit-your-teeth piece attempted at every child’s piano recital—Ludwig van Beethoven’s Für Elise. Except O’Conor’s skilled performance would have made the composer himself display a satisfied grin.

Later in that concert was Nocturne in E-flat major, by Frédéric Chopin. From the first few notes and measures, O’Conor pulled me in and held my attention. Like the first sip of a fine wine, the music trickled through my senses, and I absorbed the taste of Chopin’s melody. The nocturne was added to my “favorites” list, and I pursued the music of my now cherished composer like a man obsessively hunting for buried treasure.

O’Conor didn’t realize he was performing for me. I simply bought his Piano Classics – Popular Works for Solo Piano (Telarc) album and popped it in the CD player. His performance not only stimulated a love of particular composers and songs, but my deep love for the piano.

O’Conor, quite simply, changed my musical life.

(listen to John O’Conor perform Beethoven’s Bagatelle for Piano, G minor)

Was it his masterful translation of the music itself? I couldn’t be sure. I only knew that whatever my mood, the pianist was there, soothing me. He helped me to understand Edvard Grieg, Claude Debussy, and many other composers I never knew before he presented them.

Not until I was about twenty did I see him perform, finally, in concert. I didn’t get to meet him. But I watched him, captivated. I admired the gift he was endowed with, the gift he unknowingly shared with me.

I am a lover of classical music today because of him. Because of a power he didn’t know he possessed—the power to instill appreciation in a beautiful art form.

The power of music.

Has music changed you in any way? Was it a song, composer, or simply something at the right time and in the right place?

John O’Conor (U.S. performances)

March 13, 2011
Haydn’s Sonata in B minor
Field’s Three Nocturnes
Schubert’s Sonata in A major
Mendelssohn’s Three Songs Without Words
Beethoven’s Sonata no. 31 in A-flat major
The Frick Collection – NY

March 19 / 20, 2011
Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 3
Monterey Symphony – CA

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2 Responses to The Power of Music

  1. J.M. Lacey says:

    Thanks, LaSharron!

    I agree. That’s one of my favorite “mood” pieces as well. I found it interesting to learn recently that Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” was inspired by a passionate poem by Virgil from the “Georgics.” So although Barber’s intent was perhaps to compose something inspiring, “Adagio,” today, is known as one of the saddest pieces of music ever written. The haunting melody of the strings, to me, arouses certain inner emotions that we are compelled to release. That’s the power of music!

  2. LaSharron says:

    I find a lot of music moves and inspires me in different ways, but I think a song that really touches me every time I hear it is Sam Barber’s Adagio for Strings. Even if I am a great mood, when that song plays, tears are falling by the end of the piece, and I am not the type to cry over music, books, or movies. I can’t figure out why.

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