After writing, and friendship, music is my next great joy in life. You can never underestimate the power of song to tug at your emotions. “Killing me Softly”, sung by Roberta Flack, is one fine example of how music can play upon your emotional responses. She sings: “I felt he found my letters and read each one out loud.” How is it possible for a musician to have such emotional empathy with their audience?
Whether classical, pop, or rock, there are certain pieces of music that have become deeply ingrained in my memory, alongside pivotal life experiences. As Michael Stipe of REM once said, songs have become the soundtrack to many people’s lives. Music can make you relive life-defining moments in a way that few other experiences can.
Music can change the world
I know, this might sound like a naive assertion. I was sceptical about it myself, thinking it was just one of these “flower power statements” so beloved of hippies in the 1960’s. Then, that all changed, when I visited Leipzig this autumn.
It may be a cliche to say that travel broadens your horizons, but it’s a cliche for a reason: namely that it’s true. Visiting Leipzig, for me, was an eye-opener.
Leipzig is world-famous for having cultivated the talents of composers from Bach, Grieg, Liszt, Mendelssohn, and Wagner. Quite a musical alumni, by anyone’s estimation.
What amazed me most of all, when visiting this city, was hearing how the peaceful demonstrations, started here, led to revolution. These peaceful demonstrations were initiated by musicians. The protests in this city, started in September 1989, were what ultimately led to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, in November of the same year. That’s quite something, isn’t it?