Augenblick (ow-gen-blik): German for moment, or short period of time: literally, the blink of an eye.
Last November, Anthony Tommasini, the chief music critic of The New York Times, wrote an article entitled “Fleeting in the Ear, Forever in the Heart”, in which he described a number of musical moments that were meaningful to him, that had a strong emotional impact. I understood exactly what he was describing, that sensation of being stirred, engaged, or profoundly moved by a particular short passage of music, and as I read the article I began reflecting on my own list of favorite musical moments; along with more than 800 other readers, I took Tommasini up on his invitation to share a personal favorite or two on the Times website.
In the back of my mind, the article took hold and wouldn’t let go. I’ve been attuned to the import of life’s moments for some time now, more so the older I get. The most important and meaningful things in life aren’t tangible objects, but rather the experiences we have: of love and friendship, of art in its varied forms, of humor and of beauty…and many of those experiences play out in mere moments. And so I’ve decided to start writing about my own moments. To start, my focus will be, like Tommasini’s, on music, but I expect to write about other topics as well: art, film, language, even baseball (a knee-buckling curveball can be a thing of beauty).
I’m mindful of the fact that the experience of art is utterly subjective: what quickens my pulse may well leave others completely unmoved. Someone once said that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture” (check out this post on the blog Quote Investigator for a fun and interesting discussion of the statement’s provenance); I will, however, do my best to explain what makes a passage–sometimes even a single note–special. If I can introduce one or two people to a new piece of music, or to hear a song in a new way, or perhaps even inspire someone to consider his or her own list of ‘moments’, I will have fulfilled my criteria for success.