Paris. Architectural music

I like living in Paris but I am afraid that all the tightly-packed white buildings often make me think of being in a maze – despite the occasional view over to the Panthéon or up towards Sacré-Coeur.

Usually one can see only as far as the next corner (probably a café!), plus a narrow segment of sky. I found it stressful at first – in the winter. But then spring arrived.


And I realised something new about listening to music.

In the spring the facades shine whiter, the sky is a brilliant blue and the leaves on the horse-chestnut trees are bright green (with fabulous white candles). All those vivid contrasts make the maze into an adventure of brilliant corners, virtuoso turns and occasional unexpected vistas.

Suddenly it seemed to me that music could also be like being immersed in a fascinating city. I found that I was hearing Stravinsky’s music as I walked (for example, The Symphonies of Wind Instruments and the Concerto in D).

Those rhythm changes are a turn into a narrow lane, or they lead onto a broad avenue. We might find an unexpected square, or a corner of green with a fountain.

Writers often describe the structures in Stravinsky’s music but this is the first time that the feeling of it just came to me naturally.

Music appeals to me when it’s about our lives, about the experience of being human. To tell you the truth, I still don’t know if Stravinsky’s music does this – maybe it doesn’t. However, at least now I think I may be a bit closer to understanding how he speaks.


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