Two milestones this week: 1.

Two milestones this week:

1. Today marks my being in Beijing for an entire five months. In a strange way, the months have gone by quickly, while the individual hours and days have at times seemed to drag on for an eternity.

2. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the death of Richard Wagner, the musician who more than any other single force has shaped me into the person I am today. I don’t have the time or energy to go into my love of Wagner’s music right now; suffice it to say that, although I rarely listen to his music (I save it for the most special times), it is integral to my entire existence, it is my lifeblood, my inspiration for living and striving and working and loving. There are moments in Wagner’s music that I know were written for me and for me alone, moments that speak to me on a level that is wholly unexplainable and indescribable, a level that is so intimate and so intense that I can only describe my relationship to it as a mystical one.

Shit, I said I wasn’t going to write about Wagner, and look what happens. Let me stop here while I can. But also let me add that not only Wagner’s music possesses me; there are works of Mozart and Bach and Faure that affect me similarly, but they always fade away as insignificant once Wagner comes on….

Interestingly, I taught a seminar on classical music to my Chinese colleagues today, but included no Wagner — his music is truly an acquired taste, and never easy to digest for newcomers. Instead I played Mozart, Bach and some excerpts from La Boheme. They seemed to really enjoy it.

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