2017-07-24 19:20:00 UTC
There are some piece I don't listen to because I'm tired of them, but
there are others I simply can't listen to because of the associations
they carry. When I was a student, the music director asked me to play
the keyboard part in the Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4. I balked
because I'm not so good on the piano when I play with others (and not so
good, period), but in the end I reluctantly agreed. The part was
probably a bit above my skill level and I didn't practice enough.
During the performance all I could do was selectively drop the right
hand and try to keep up with the left. All in all, I made a hash of it.
The one saving grace is that for the most part, it was hard to hear me
over the other instruments.
When I attended the next end-of-semester concert as an audience member,
I was surprised to see that the very same Brandenburg Concerto was on
the program, with the same personnel, save one: I had been replaced.
The music director and I never spoke of it, and he never asked me for
the score back, even though it was the original, not a photocopy. Nor
did I return it of my own accord. Returning it would have been, as they
say in universities these days, an emotional trigger, and I just wasn't
up to it.
I have a commercial recording of the Brandenburg Concerti that's pretty
good - The Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra under Ton Koopman - but I just
can't listen to No. 4 anymore. It makes me feel queasy.
A part-time lecturer in the music department once told me a story about
her roommate. This roommate would practice Brahms' Rhapsody in B Minor
on the piano endlessly, and every time she came to this one dramatic
part, she would screw it up really badly and yell "FUCK!" in
frustration. Then she would start from the beginning and do the whole
thing again. This went on for several months. Ever since that time,
whenever the lecturer was within earshot of the Brahms Rhapsody and that
difficult part came up, in her mind's ear she heard her roommate yelling
She said she can't listen to that piece anymore.