How Has Classical Music Added Romance to Your Life?

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Editor's Note: In 2011, we received an overwhelming response to our survey on how romance has added classical music to your life. We've revived it for this Valentine's Day.

To celebrate Valentine's Day, we're reading your romantic stories and playing some of your favorite romantic pieces. Tell us how classical music added romance to your life by commenting below.

Read your fellow listeners' stories below.

We've asked various musicians -- and a couple of WQXR hosts -- how classical music has added romance to their lives. Here's what they had to say:

David Finckel, cellist of the Emerson Quartet, co-artistic director, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center with wife, pianist Wu Han

"How has classical music added romance to your life?" In our case, the question really is, "How has it not?"
 
I have previously revealed my conviction that I actually fell in love with Wu Han between the notes G and A in the first movement of the Schumann Piano Quintet. When the Emerson played it with her for the first time, she became the first pianist ever who allowed time for my phrase to peak across these two notes, and I can still recall the sensation of discovering someone who was listening intently and accurately to what was going on deep inside me. 
 
A common sensitivity to, and understanding of, the things in music that are so personal that they cannot be described in words, are perhaps analogous to the human connections necessary for long and successful relationships. Music ignited our romance and continues to fuel it, as our shared passions guide us in our work and inspire us to share our happiness with others, on stage and off. 

Amanda Forsyth Zukerman, cellist, wife of violinist and conductor Pinchas Zukerman

I find I am able to "set a mood" with music. If ever I am in the wrong state of mind, I can completely re-boot my outlook by selecting (and then playing) the right piece of classical music. Likewise, having the opportunity to perform great classical music with my husband adds yet another dimension to romance and, for that matter, any other emotion.

When Pinchas and I play the Brahms Double Concerto, there are moments onstage (particularly in the slow movement which is filled with romantic themes) in which we share some very meaningful and personal telepathic emotions. The musical conversation in the other movements have also become a love connection, too. There are some specific moments in Mozart quintets which, as Pinchas plays them, never fail to give me goosebumps onstage! We are so fortunate to share such beautiful music together on a regular basis. It definitely becomes part of our romantic lives together and adds an entirely different dimension.

 

Orli Shaham, pianist and wife of St. Louis Symphony conductor David Robertson

How has classical music added romance to my life? How hasn't it? If it weren't for music I would have never understood how to express passion. I would have never known that it is perfectly acceptable even in respectable circles to be swept off one's feet. And I would have never met my Prince Charming, my wonderful husband conductor David Robertson. Blame it on Chopin's E-minor Piano Concerto, which was the first piece we ever performed together and through which we met. The attentiveness with which he followed my phrases and the clear communication we shared in music eventually made us realize we would be able to do that for each other in all aspects of life. 

Then a few years later he exuded such absolute focus in the exhilarating ending of Bartok's Third Piano Concerto -- because he was about to propose and didn't want me to say no if the accompaniment wasn't perfect! It was clear to me I could always count on him to have my back. How nice it is when all is effortlessly expressed without words!  Shaham's childrens' music series "Baby Got Bach" continues Feb. 6 at LPR.

 

Simin Ganatra, violinist in the Pacifica Quartet and wife of Brandon Vamos, cellist in the Pacifica Quartet

Classical music has of course added much romance to my life. My husband Brandon Vamos and I met through classical music. As musicians our musical and non-musical lives are so intertwined it is impossible to separate the two. I fell in love with Brandon when we first played chamber music together. I particularly remember playing the slow movement of the Schumann Piano Quartet in a group with him and feeling such a deep personal and musical connection that I realized I'd met my life partner right then and there. That was twenty years ago. We've been married now for 10 years and at our wedding we had several of those pieces we played early on performed. Listening to them now always brings back that wonderful feeling of romance and reminds me why I fell in love with my husband.

 

Sandy Yamamoto and Daniel Ching, husband-and-wife violinists in the Miró Quartet

Classical music certainly had everything to do with our romance and provided the possibility of sharing love and a life together, both in music and outside of it.

We were teenagers when we met. We were from opposite coasts -- Daniel from the Bay Area in California, Sandy from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Way back then, media and automotive giants Seventeen magazine and General Motors partnered up to sponsor an annual concerto competition for youngsters in junior high and high school. That year we were both selected for the final rounds at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio. That also happened to be the school where Daniel was to attend college just five months later. Sandy also happened to end up just forty minutes from there also for her college years, at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Coincidence?

Anyway, we both played the first live rounds at Oberlin, and neither were selected to move on. Well, that left a lot of time in Oberlin (a week) for us to get to know one another quite well, and the rest is history... Well, getting to play in the same quartet for the past 15 years also helped! Certainly without our desire to excel in music and perhaps due to both of our inadequate performances at the concerto competition, we were destined to find each other, and we have classical music to thank for that.

Midge Woolsey, WQXR Host

Last year at this time when we talked about romance, I was single. This year, I celebrate Valentine’s Day for the very first time as a married woman. And I’ll tell you something... it feels really great! One of the most important things I’ve learned from my husband so far is that if you spend some time not just on Valentine’s Day but every day talking about the miracle of love, your day will be about 150% better. It’s like magic, real magic! When you go operatic and add music to the mix, you can find places in your heart that can’t be reached with words alone. When I think of operatic love duets, tenor Luciano Pavarotti and soprano Mirella Freni come to mind.  There must have been something in the water where they grew up in Modena, Italy, because the sound they made together was like a perfect soufflé.  Their Cherry Duet from Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz is my idea of heaven and perfect choice for Valentine’s Day.

 


Kevin Murphy, pianist and
Heidi Grant Murphy, soprano

From Kevin: A friend at Indiana University (where I was a piano major studying with Menahem Pressler) told me to look out for this beautiful young soprano coming to IU who had it all -- beauty, a depth of soul and the most silvery, heavenly soprano voice. I instantly fell in love with Heidi Grant when she sang Durch Zartlichkeit und Smeicheln from Mozart's Abduction from the Seraglio in an audition. Her character, Blonde, lectures that the way to win over a girl's heart is by tenderness, coaxing and pleasantries. I did my best to heed Blonde's advice and eventually, I persuaded Heidi she was in love with me too. After twenty years of mariage, four children, and lots of concerts together, I still love hearing her voice every day -- the ringtone on my iPhone is Heidi's recording of Bach's, Bist du bei mir, which makes me smile every time she calls to tell me to pick up some milk.

From Heidi: Kevin and I are most connected when we make music together. We love to perform recitals and one of the most romantic songs we perform is A Dream, Rachmaninoff's Op. 38, No. 5. The voice and piano are intertwined -- so dependent upon the other, and it ends with the most beautiful piano postlude. Every time Kevin plays it, I get chills. One of my other favorite things he plays is Brahms' A-Major Intermezzo, Op. 118 No. 2. This was one of the pieces he used to get me to fall in love with him. It worked.

 

Gregory Beaver, cellist in the Chiara Quartet and husband of Julie Yoon, Chiara Quartet violinist

How has classical music added romance to our life? Aside from the obvious fact that Julie and I met in the music world and became a couple because of our work together in the Chiara Quartet, there are more subtle things. We have shared many incredible moments revealing great recordings to one another, such as when Julie introduced me to the Szigeti recording of the Brahms D minor Sonata, or I introduced her to the Brahms Deutsches Requiem recording with the Berliner Philharmoniker/Swedish Rundfunkchor and Claudio Abbado. More directly, the first question we asked when planning our wedding was what music we would have? For the processional, we asked our friends to play the third movement of Schumann’s Piano Quartet. For the recessional, they played the fourth movement, so that the ceremony itself was nestled right in the middle of the music. Creating music has been a singular passion of both of our lives, and it is that much more profound when you get to create the music together with the person you love most.

 

And finally, a story about the power of opera from WQXR host Naomi Lewin...

True Story:

He said (in answer to someone else's question): I don't think I've ever been to an opera.
She said (he looks cute): I'll take you to the opera.
He said (she looks cute): Thank you!
She said (what have I gotten myself in for?): You're welcome.
He said (as though I had a clue): What opera?
She said (perfect for a newbie): Madame Butterfly.

Years -- and Lucia di Lammermoor, La Traviata, Carmen, The Marriage of Figaro, The Barber of Seville, The Elixir of Love, Don Carlo, Il Trittico, Der Rosenkavalier, La Fanciulla del West, Don Giovanni and even Die Meistersinger later -- he's a confirmed opera-lover, and they're a couple.