Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Owning the Masterpieces of the World

Owning the Masterpieces of the World

There are three classical music composers whose works I admire very much even when I was a kid: Chopin, Mozart and Beethoven. The Musik Klasik and Konsert Klasik programs on the local FM radio were my favourite programs. At that time, those were my main sources of classical music. I even recorded many of those hour-long programs on cassette tapes. These days, there are so many classical radio stations on the Internet for one to choose from.

The good thing about music masterpieces is that, unlike painting, it is accessible to anyone. You can buy an affordable recording of say, the Eroica Symphony by Beethoven and you'll get to listen note-for-note, exactly what the great master himself created from his mind, and perhaps even experience the same kind of pleasure that the audience felt during its premier performance in Vienna in 1805.

With masterpiece paintings, you have to settle for photographic images of the original, which often pale in comparison with the real thing. Even if you were to go to the Louvre to view the Mona Lisa, you can only enjoy it for a brief moment--you can't bring it home with you. There's only one copy in the world.

That's the good thing about music--it can be reproduced for the masses. Anyone can own these works of art. Collecting classical music can be such a wonderful hobby: all the masterpieces by these great composers are available in the stores and you can own the complete collection of their works if you choose to do so. Anyone can be a connoisseur--It is not a privilege of the rich. In that sense, music is like literature--works by Homer or Shakespeare are available as cheaply as those by Stephen King or Michael Crichton. Imagine holding a CD of one of the masterpieces of the world--at the price of less than what you would typically spend on a Saturday evening out, clubbing with friends.

It wasn't always so. During Beethoven's time, you needed to have someone to play the music live to be able to enjoy it. Only the aristocrats could afford it. Thanks to Thomas Alva Edison and Emile Berliner, anyone can now have his own private orchestra in his living room. And Gutenberg's invention made it possible for anyone to have access to the greatest literary works in the world.

All the masterpieces of the world--enough to last us a couple of lifetimes--are there for us to enjoy. What most of us lack is not money--but time and inclination. Like what I often say, the good things in life don't cost a lot of money. But then again, maybe I'm just the type who's easily contented with life...

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