It all started, Rob - as far back as I can remember when I was around 3, but probably already before birth - with, as indicated, Beethoven and the great Highland bagpipes; sounds which still produce the very same spine-shivers today, and every day between, particularly the pipes (it’s the drones that do it…)
It branched out into an array of great composers. The ones who get to me particularly are Beethoven (above all, even ahead of Bach), Schubert, Brahms, Bach, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, and a crowd of just slightly lesser names who write in that great symphonic and chamber-music European tradition. I regard, for example, Bach’s Ciaccona, at the end of the D Minor Partita for solo violin, and Beethoven’s Late Quartets, plus the Big Fugue, as amongst the greatest ever creations of the human soul. Just thinking about them right now, as usual, makes “…mine eyes dazzle…” (Duchess of Malfi), and my breath catch a little.
I became unhappily aware, particularly in my teens, of the absence of my invite to the great global music-fest exploding at that time, when I realised that the major efflorescence of people like Bill Haley (and the Comets ), Elvis, the Beatles, etc., etc., ad nauseam, left my either coldly indifferent, or even actively repelled! (sic!) The same, almost though not quite across the board, with jazz.
I recognised that these were serious professional artists, making genuine, respect-worthy art. But - alas! - I just didn’t like it.
I now regard this as a serious glitch in my musical susceptibility, but - as I’ve said - what can you do? It’s always just how it grabs you that dictates personal taste, isn’t it? Unfortunately, mine seems to be very patchy and picky. It’s an actual handicap, rooted in Aspergery, I suspect. An autistic boy whom I looked after during one of my ‘resting’ periods from showbiz had exactly similar leanings about the sounds he’d collected on his tape recorder.
A music teacher in my teens insisted that hearing something often enough would likely make it grow on you, and demonstrated his idea by playing, over a whole string of lessons, the same Haydn symphony over and over again. And he was right. That’s what turned me on to Haydn’s prodigious output of symphonies. And I have a little clutch of jazz favourites too, forced on me by constant repetition by my rock-climbing mates at grammar school: Miles, Coltrane, Jimmy Giuffre’s ‘The Train and The River’, and a few others…
But the constant - unavoidable! - re-hearing of all the music popular on the airwaves and the vinyl in my youth never had the same effect. Still absolutely cold to it - at best. Ochone!