Love at First Listen Favorites

Such great memories you shared in this year’s Love at First listen! Thanks for making it a fun week on KBACH, both in playing your selections and reading the words you shared.

We’ve chosen some of our favorite memories and present them to you here. The common thread, you’ll see, is that classical music connects us to our past in touching us deeply.

Addinsell: Warsaw Concerto

David in Mascotte, Florida, writes:

The war in Europe was over and dad was home at last. I was about ten years old. We lived in Chicago. My bedroom was in the back of the apartment. I had had my bath and was put to bed. Then I heard some beautiful music from the big box Zenith radio phonograph in the living room. I crept down the hall and lay down, out of sight, where I could listen. Dad had brought home a recording of the Warsaw concerto from the sound track of "Dangerous Moonlight". Mom and Dad played the record several times, and I fell asleep listening. I have loved classical music ever since -- about 70 years. KBACH is on daily over the internet in my home. Thank all of you for the fine job you do.

JS Bach: Sleepers Awake

Lincoln in Mesa writes:

In the early 1950's, radio and TV stations usually signed off at midnight and would resume broadcasting at 6 am. I lived in Washington D.C., where the classical music station was WGMS. Every morning, the station signed-on with Bach's Sleepers Awake. I know, because that’s when I had to wake up to do my paper route. Sleepers Awake was the ONLY pleasant thing about waking up at that hour! Still today, 65 years later, pleasant memories come flooding back as I listen to that marvelous piece.

Beethoven: Moonlight Sonata

Two KBACH listeners chose this one!

Regina in Phoenix writes:

I grew up in old Glendale, raised by a secretary-mom who raised 5 girls by herself. She was a Midwestern farm girl, striving toward the middle class, but her musical taste was decidedly classical. I grew up hearing to the classical standards, but the piece that made my hard-working mom stop, with a reverent listening, was "Moonlight Sonata." It still brings me to a restful pause, too; I still think of it as "Mary Jo's Theme," for my mom. I remain a lover of classical music — and a supporter of KBACH — to this day. 

Wayne in Phoenix writes:

I am now an old man. I came from an extremely poor family. When I was in elementary school, one of my older brothers acquired a record player and some records. The first record I heard was Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." I thought to myself ... how can anyone compose music like that? I became hooked on classical music at that moment.

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto #5, “Emperor”

Toni in Apache Junction writes:

Who doesn't LOVE this piece? I am not sure when I first heard it, but I can tell you it was in 1961 or ‘62. My dad was in the military, and we had just returned from three years in Germany. I was lucky to have sung in a chorus at the Nuremberg Opera House. Did I hear it there? I don't know, but I had to have the record. When we returned stateside, I got my first job making $1/hour, and I saved and saved until I was able to buy a "suitcase" phonograph and an LP of the Concerto. I was so proud. For years it was the only record I owned, and I played it over and over. Now, when I hear the Concerto on the radio, my world stops, and I am transported. I become the musician, the conductor, the audience. Thanks for bringing back the memory!

Beethoven: Symphony #6 in F, “Pastoral”

Nancy in Chandler writes:

I grew up listening to light classical music, movie scores, and recordings by 101 Strings, Ferrante and Teicher and so forth (thanks, Mom). We also had Music Memory lessons in school, and if you aced the final test, you could go to hear the Phoenix Symphony at Grady Gammage during the school day. So I suppose there was never any one piece that turned me into a classical music lover. I just always have been. I chose Beethoven's 6th because I think that his was the first full-length symphony that I recall listening to, and I still get an overwhelmingly calming feeling upon hearing the first few bars.

Dvorak: Rusalka: Song to the Moon

Mary Ann in Scottsdale writes:

This piece BLEW me away! My interest in vocal music began at age 7, singing in a church choir. The choir director was a lyric soprano and performed this piece for a community event that first spring. WOW!! I found a vinyl record to listen to it again and again! So many gifted sopranos continue to make this piece's melody captivate the essence of beauty beyond belief! Hearts melt and minds are taken to an almost otherworldly place!

Mozart: Ave Verum Corpus

Lawrence in Peoria writes:

I was raised in an Irish Catholic household and attended Mass every Sunday. When I was about 8 or 9, I started going to the High Mass, where the choir and celebrant went back and forth singing the Mass. I loved all the hymns and music, but I particularly like the Communion hymn, which was Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus," although I had no idea at the time that it was Mozart's music. That one work was enough to propel me to a never-ending search for music that speaks to the soul. Thank you Wolfgang!! 

Mussorgsky/Ravel: Pictures at an Exhibition

Denise in Tempe writes:

I was born in 1952 and loved playing records at an early age. My mother likes to tell the story of my playing Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons" when I was about 3 and waking my Grandma and Grandpa up at 2:30 a.m. I fell in love with Pictures at an Exhibition and played the record until it played no more. Many years later, I volunteered to usher at a symphony performance. I did not notice that this piece was on the program until it started. My heart swelled and my feet left the floor as I returned in my mind to the little record player and the well-worn record! Then tears streamed down my cheeks. I love that piece of music!!! Thank you, KBACH, for keeping my love alive.

Rachmaninoff - Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini: Variation XVIII

Mary Ann in Tempe writes:

My father was a lover of classical music. I remember as a teen, he took me to see Van Cliburn in DC. when I was otherwise at Three Dog Night, James Taylor, and Rolling Stones concerts! After we moved to AZ, every night after dinner, dad would listen to classical music in the quiet dining room.. Sometimes he would put on headphones... or sometimes not, until my mother yelled at him, ha, ha!

It was almost certainly at a Phoenix Symphony concert that I heard this Rachmaninoff piece performed live for the first time. I. Couldn’t. Breathe. I was sobbing, and I turned to look at my Dad and he was sobbing, too. We held hands, and it is a moment in time I will forever cherish. We said goodbye to Dad in 2013 (he was a young 97 years old), but his love of classical music lives on in both my adult daughters, who play piano, learned from my Dad.

Respighi: Pines of Rome

Linda in Polson, Montana, writes:

I was newly in the U.S. Army, stationed in (then West) Germany, lonely and feeling very down due to the strangeness of it all. I went to our small library to read and noticed a rack of LP's. I checked out "Pines of Rome" and a couple of other records. When I returned to my barracks, I immediately played the Respighi, not being familiar with it. I was enthralled! I thought at the time that it was among the most evocative pieces I'd ever heard. I envisioned traveling to Rome itself, which I later did in reality with the Army. Now, music works so much better than medication when in a funk, and Respighi has proved this fact over and over.

Smetana: Ma Vlast, The Moldau

Chris in Mesa writes:

I must have been 6 or 7, and during the New York winters I had a favorite place: right next to a heat register! I would sit there and listen to a small, transistor radio, mostly to pop stuff. One day, I was looking through my parents' record collection and came upon the Ormandy/ Philadelphia Orchestra version of the Moldau. I asked about it, and was told that it told the story of a river. "Without words?" I asked. “Yes,” I was assured. I gave it a listen. From the opening strings, I could see the ice melt and drip... the slow development of the flowing water, its pooling and releasing. I was mesmerized! By the time the river was at its fullness, I was floating in it! I want that piece played at my memorial service!

Shostakovich - Symphony #5 in d: II Scherzo

Judy in Phoenix writes:

The symphony strongly arouses every emotion from sorrow to joy. It is especially meaningful since I know the composer's history in Soviet Russia. After several years of being in love with it, I attended my daughter's college graduation in Santa Barbara, held outdoors with the beautiful and powerful ocean as backdrop. As my husband and I entered, the 5th symphony started to play through the sound system and brought me utterly to tears. What a wonderful personal thing to hear at the recognition of our beloved child's achievement!

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Kate in Phoenix writes:

I had always enjoyed some pieces of classical music, but the first time I heard this performed live, the beauty of it literally brought me to tears. I was at a concert with a British friend who was a little embarrassed that I teared-up during a classical concert! I couldn't help myself. It still brings tears to my eyes -- tears of joy -- on a regular basis.