Jan 29, 2013

Beating the Winter Blahs and Blues

Mendelssohn, Symphony No.4 "Italian" A Midsummer Night's Dream

People speak of the ‘winter blues, grays, darkness. . .” the list goes on and on. And, depending on our personalities, our reaction to fewer hours of daylight, cold temperatures, and other aspects of winter can certainly be debilitating. There are remedies of course. Some come in bottles in both liquid and pill form. Some involve substantial capital for alternative electrical lighting for the home to compensate for the decreased sunlight or in just getting out of town and escaping to some warmer spot on the planet.

But, as you would probably guess, at The Discovery Orchestra we would recommend a therapy that is both inexpensive and very effective at the same time. You will not even have to leave your home. It’s giving your undivided attention to some music which maybe just a ‘click of the mouse’ away.

Music has an incredible ability to alter our state of feeling – instantaneously. Letting those sound waves into our receptors, better know as our ears, and then giving those sounds all of the awareness of which our mind is capable will yield wonderful results. And I have just the piece of music in mind to do the trick!

Jacob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, whom we know and love simply as Felix Mendelssohn, was by nature one of the saner practitioners of the art of composition. Not that someone with as complicated a personality as a Beethoven or a Brahms could not create some lighthearted music. Both of them certainly did!

It’s just that Mendelssohn’s optimism was impossible for him to hide on many occasions. So what’s my suggestion for a Mendelssohn cure for the ‘winter blues’? The first movement of his Symphony No. 4, ‘Italian’ should do it. Mendelssohn toured Europe at one point during his life for a nice stretch of time, writing music as he travelled. He wrote his sister from Rome: “The Italian symphony is making great progress. It will be the jolliest piece I have ever done. . .”

Here’s a link to a Leonard Bernstein performance of the music. Follow my mentor Dr. Saul Feinberg’s listening guide as you listen. Don’t miss the devastatingly beautiful though brief oboe solo just before the ‘recapitulation’. And since Maestro Bernstein takes the repeat in the ‘exposition’, you can give yourself a nice 10-minute break from the winter blues as you bathe in Mendelssohn’s sunny emotional impressions of Italy!