ARTICLES

HOOKED ON CLASSICS

RABBI DANIEL GLASS

Nov 27, 2006
I love classical music. When I was 9 my friends thought that was a bit strange – how could Adam Ant not be the answer to our deepest musical needs? – but as the years went on and I arrived at University some friends of mine actually confessed to a similar love. Possibly Adam Ant had stopped putting out recordings by that point.
 
Classical music presents us with a strange phenomenon. Each performer of a piece of classical music plays exactly the same notes, and follows the same directions for performance. Yet, as any lover of classical music knows, immense significance is attached to exactly who is performing. But why does it matter who’s performing? They’re all performing exactly the same piece of music!
 
The truth is, clearly, that it is not just important what they play, however beautiful the music is, but, rather, how they play. The individualities of two entirely different people, can reach expression through exactly the same notes on exactly the same page. Rather than stifling individuality, the apparent limitation of the notes somehow, mysteriously, releases and reveals the personality of their performer.
 
There sometimes seem to be many ‘notes’ in Judaism - Shabbat, keeping kosher…. and those notes seem to be the same for all people. We might ask ourselves, where lies the opportunity within Judaism for the expression of our own uniqueness?
 
Maybe again we can see the same process here. As Jews we do all have the same piece of music to play, albeit an extremely beautiful piece. But to play this piece of music doesn’t limit us. It can reveal and release our strengths, ourselves.

TAGS for this article: Music | Classical Music