It’s only with the heart that we can see truly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’   (Antoine de Saint-Exupery from ‘The little Prince’)

It was my Dad who taught me the  importance of  responding to music with the heart.  Although not a musician himself, music was always both a physical and emotional experience for my father.

Listening to a piece of music my Dad just couldn’t stand still!  When I was young, I remember him in our kitchen on a Sunday morning furiously conducting the frenzied last movement of a Beethoven piano concerto or symphony with his hands, or a cooking spoon or whatever utensil he could find as he was peeling the potatoes. ‘You have to move!’ he said. And I believed him. Pacing up and down. To this day I have this wonderful vision of a man in a red and black striped cooking apron conducting Beethoven with a ladle.

And sometimes he would do something when he listened to music which was very un-British. Something rather strange for a rather traditional and ‘old school’ man – he’d sometimes cry. When moved by the particular beauty of a slow movement, tears would well up in his eyes.  I’ve never forgotten that wonderful lesson. That music can make us happy and laugh, but it can also be so beautiful that it can make us cry. And to cry sometimes is a good thing. Because it makes you realise what beauty is, and what being human is.

Shakespeare knew this all those years ago and of the need to be wary of those with no music inside themselves:

‘The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music’.

 (The Merchant of Venice)


 William John Dulborough 1927-2011



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