The morning after I heard her in concert, I had a chance to do a video quizzing composer, pianist and poet Lera Auerbach about the meaning of music.
As a non-musical person, this quest for the meaning of music has become a bit of a crusade. I asked the same of the Chinese composer Chou Wen-Chung.
The video is much better value, but here is a compressed resume of our discussion. (Which concluded with my opening question unanswered!)
Music is wonder, magic, life, without the limitations of words.
Music expresses emotion without the brain betraying the heart.
Music does not have the limitations of language because it is free of words.
Music allows you to communicate through time, allowing a composer from hundreds of years ago to move us to tears.
Don’t expect anything from music, just let it take you to places in your soul that you didn’t know existed.
We sometimes cry while listening to music and we don’t even know why.
Sometimes music just touches a string of the soul that needed to be released or relaxed.
The more you know the work and the composer, the more powerful the impact of the music.
The beauty of performing is that your relationship with the work changes as you change.
At the same time, music is close to science and based on mathematical ratios.
Why is it that Mozart’s requiem has such a profound effect on its listeners?
I don’t think we can really know what music is.