My father built our gramophone and the blackwood piece of furniture that surrounded it. The fine speakers were large and positioned high up in an alcove, above cupboards, either side of the fireplace. Father adored loud music, Beethoven particularly. He encouraged my brothers and me to sit listening to Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ and tell him what we visualised. Those memories are fragrant. ‘Peter and the Wolf’ with the musical accompaniment filled many a winter’s day. We were lucky to have someone who could share his deep love of music.
When alone with the music my favourites were Chopin’s ‘Les Sylphides’ ballet and Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’; where I’d swan around dancing my heart out, not being allowed dancing lessons at that age.
The fireplace took the place of a television. Living in Tasmania, the fire was lit for a good part of the year. The house itself was built by my grandfather for his bride back in 1914; given to my parents as a wedding present in 1942.
Christopher, my now husband, introduced me to the word ‘pop music’ when I was about ten. It wasn’t until I went to boarding school at eleven that I began to listen to pop music. There was just one wireless in the common room and everyone enjoyed top of the pops. In the evenings at school before prep, (homework), one of the really talented girls used to play pop tunes for us to dance to. I hated being away at school, but I do remember the music with much nostalgia.
Later when my eldest brother was at university and I was at Art School, we’d go to concerts together, classical and popular. One memorable night, Segovia, a famous classical guitarist, gave thirteen encores!
Christopher has a photographic memory when it comes to music. He has a fantastic collection and continues to educate me. The thump, thump of the popular music doesn’t interest us anymore. It is rather soporific when the neighbours have their occasional parties, like a soft heart beat, now I’m getting deaf.