The Music Plays On — Songs Of My Youth

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I’m a child of the 80’s, thru and thru, and my soundtrack didn’t differ that much from most kids, except that there was some Mahler, Bruckner, Mozart, and Beethoven thrown in for some measure.

The first pop concert I saw was Duran Duran on my birthday in February, 1984. Their album, Arena, is a wonderful document as it’s a live recording from April of that same year from the Oakland Coliseum.

At the same time, I was starting to take my first deep dive into classical music. One of the first recordings I became obsessed with — on cassette tape — was Andre Watts’ great set of Liszt piano pieces on EMI.

The first cd I ever owned, which I purchased on my birthday 1985, was this fantastic performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina burana Robert Shaw conducting the Atlanta Symphony on Telarc.

For me, I had ONE Mannheim Steamroller album that was my gateway drug into classical music, without doubt. It was Mannheim Steamroller VI from 1986 and I still love it!

My first Beethoven CD was Beethoven’s Symphony №9 with Christoph Dohnanyi conducting the Cleveland Orchestra on Telarc. Again, another very fine performance for which I was lucky to have as my first recording of this masterpiece! Here’s the second movement Scherzo.

Another pop recording I adored was New Order’s Substance 1987.

And, like everyone else, my highschool theme album was U2’s Joshua Tree.

But, my personal soundtrack was my obsession with Mahler, from the first CD I ever owned, which was Solti’s taught recording from 1970 with the Chicago Symphony,

to Bernstein’s rustic recording of Mahler’s Symphony №1 with the New York Philharmonic.

While certainly still an outlier to this day, Vaughan Williams’ Symphony №4 was an odd choice for someone just getting into classical music. But this incredible symphony, so modern sounding in comparison to his symphonies, I was completely taken with its urgency and angst.

In all honesty, I really had no idea what Holly Johnson was really singing about. I just loved the theatricality of this album!

And any child of the 80’s who doesn’t stop dead in their tracks and starts singing along at the top of their lungs when hearing this song is probably secretly a child of the 70’s.

Written by

Music Director of the California Symphony and Las Vegas Philharmonic

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