… I would paint what I hear in this piece of music, Rhapsody No. 1 in D Flat Major by Herbert Howells. The entire piece is only five minutes and 35 seconds long, but it is the segment between 1:30 and 3:00 that moves me most. I first heard it being played a few weeks ago at Trinity Church in Copley Square. The organist, Colin Lynch, was rehearsing for Sunday services. I appreciated the beauty of his playing but at first the music itself did nothing for me … and then something happened. I was hooked. And then released. As he kept rehearsing the piece, I wanted to dash into the church and stop him to ask what in the world was he playing but that seemed inappropriate. I thought I’d catch him at the end of his rehearsal but I missed him.
Time passed, lots of traveling took place but I could still hear that music. I tried to describe the piece to other musicians and people who knew classical music far better than I. Keep in mind I have no language for music (which is why I want to paint what I’m hearing). I kept saying, “It’s the kind of music that, you know, leads you someplace,” and other not especially helpful phrases. I was about to give up my search when I did chance upon the organist. This time I stopped him in his tracks and asked, “Hey, Colin, what was that piece of music you were playing two weeks ago?”
He lifted an eyebrow but he indulged me. He helped me find the language to describe what I’d heard. And as we narrowed down the possibilities of what he may have been playing, he finally asked, “Was it loud? Did it get really loud?” “Yes!” I said, and so he nodded and then wrote down the possibilities.
It was Herbert Howell’s Rhapsody No. 1 in D Flat. Imagine my pleasure when I found this Youtube recording by Nigel Potts. Listen at your leisure. And that’s my random story this bright Monday morning. Have a good day, folks. 😉