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Music is not intuition, but revelation.”
-Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

In the course of one restless summer evening, I experienced a work of astounding beauty, a musical revelation. I sat on the steep lawn in the Ford Amphitheater in Vail, absorbed by the sounds of Tchaikovsky that pulsated from the orchestra below me. The rain had passed during the first part of the program, his Symphony No. 6, “Pathétique”, and now the clouds stretched from one mountainous horizon to the other, creating a tremendous dome in the sky. Nature had built her stage specifically for the Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor; a work that would sear itself into my soul before the sun disappeared.

I cannot claim an extensive knowledge of classical music; indeed, I feel that I am but an uninitiated voyeur into this boundless world of beauty and creation. However, I cannot deny what I heard that evening. I cannot neglect the vigor with which the music awakened my soul. Any trace of stagnation or fatigue was banished from my soul that evening.

The first driving horn orations seized my attention from the tempestuous skies. The orchestra resounded with its instantaneous, sonorous response, exalting the composer’s relentless passion for life. The horn and orchestra dueled again, and once more, until they were joined together in one tumultuous and fleeting burst of unison that abruptly dissipated and was replaced by graceful and methodical piano chords that underscored the first soaring melody. The sheer power of the sound coming through my ears astounded my complacent spirit.

My complete attention was drawn to the stage and the music emanating from it. I listened intently to the delicately constructed piano articulations, tip-toeing from one end of the spectrum to the next. I closed my eyes to visualize the sounds that coursed through my head, and the seeds of revelation were planted. When I opened my eyes again, I could see the architecture of the music: foundations, pillars, buttresses, arches, domes, vast weightless melodies held high in the air by marble columns. Then, the sounds started moving closer together. Repeated phrases would be built next to each other and each piece would flow with effortless motion on top of the last, the last phrase forming the background of the next moment’s motion. In this way, the entire work gravitated towards one single, instantaneous existence. Listening to Tchaikovsky’s music was like watching a painter craft an immense landscape in 40 minutes.

The final movement, Allegro con fuoco and Allegro vivo , celebrated my revelation with an insistent and momentous fanfare soaring through the air. The restless piano seemed to lose its way, but then tumbled gracefully into the decisive and vivacious conclusion. At that moment, my pulse quickened with the orchestra’s pace and my soul soared along with the concerto’s intensely romantic, glorious death. I felt the unity of composer to conductor, performer to listener, a connection of beauty and vigor that filled me like no other experience before.

A college essay.

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