‘Declassified’ aims to open world of classical music

In 1976, at the age of 6, I became the youngest violinist ever to play in the Reading Symphony Orchestra in Pennsylvania. I don’t remember anything about this concert, where I played with musicians whose talents far exceeded my own to warrant accompaniment, but it was safe to say that it was the high point of my “career” as a violinist.

I played for another six years, but when my mother let me give up the violin at the end of elementary school, I never thought about the instrument differently (except when I needed a relevant anecdote to open a book review about a violinist).

My decision to give up the violin disappointed my mother, but over the next few years I did so many other things to make my decision to play the violin a mere footnote in the list of ways I disappointed my mother.

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Arianna Warsaw – Fan Rauch also dropped the violin, but her decision caused more excitement in the music world than mine. Rauch went to Juilliard and played professionally with some of the world’s greatest musicians.

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Classical music captivated and consumed him, and his earliest memories of being introduced to music and composers are far more powerful than my having to play “Mississippi Hot Dog” to learn to bow. (And by this I’m referring to my violin teacher’s attempt not to bend over while running a bow through the strings of a violin to deafening applause at my first concert in a suburban living room.)

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Rauch still loves the music he plays, and that’s evident when reading Declassified, usefully subtitled “A Low-Key Guide to the Powerful World of Classical Music.” Rauch’s goal is to open the world of classical music to a wider audience with a warm and self-deprecating and fun writing style.

His comments are an absolute exception, such as the one he uses in the section where musicians don’t make a lot of money and have to put up with rude behavior from benefactors and sometimes have to kiss the ring of people they may not like.

“In short, the terrible witch hated me,” writes Rauch, “I hated him, but I hated him, but I hated him, and now he is dead.” (But I didn’t kill him. He was really, really old.)”

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Declassified Works is for lifelong fans of classical music, as well as those who want to better appreciate the brilliance of the likes of Mozart and Beethoven. If I had read this book when I was 12, I would still have given up the violin, but I would have been looking over my shoulder.

Drew Gallagher is a freelance writer and video book reviewer in Spotsylvania.


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