James Bennett II is a staff writer for WQXR.
Benjamin Zander Uses Chopin to Illustrate Classical's Emotional Impact
Monday, January 23, 2017 - 11:11 AM
Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra conductor Benjamin Zander has a serious passion for classical music. In this 2008 TED Talk, Zander uses his piano, humor and ability to connect with the audience to not only spread that passion, but to give listeners an all new way to experience classical music. His secret for a powerful experience is simple: he tells us to let the music take hold of us and to embrace the emotions and experience it coaxes out of our memory.
His main vehicle to prove his point is Chopin’s Prelude No.4, a short and melancholy piece that is one of the composer’s better-known works. He briefly explains to his audience what makes it so powerful, then asks the audience to conjure up the memory of someone special who is no longer here. Combined with the knowledge of how Chopin moves the work along, Zander tells us that we can learn “everything he [Chopin] had to say.”
The next time you listen to your favorite piece, or even a new one, keep Zander’s words in mind. Focus on a memory, be it happy or sad, and let it inform how you feel about the music around you.