Some of you may have watched the recent and moving ABC TV program Chopin saved my life. It explored the transformative power of Chopin’s Ballade No 1 in G minor, Op 23 an amazing piece of music that has affected many people around the world. It is known as ‘one of the hardest pieces in the repertoire.’
Two people’s stories, in particular, were highlighted as well as several famous pianists playing including Vladimir Ashkenazy, who was chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Paul, a self-taught and very talented music student from Glasgow, had a brain tumour followed by numerous operations. He claims this music was life changing as it brought his memory back to him and enabled him to start making sense of his life again.
Later he developed MS and could only play with one hand. Stoically and without fuss or complaint, he and a colleague rewrote the piece for one hand. Gutsy!
Momoka, a Japanese girl plays the piece after the devastating tsunami of 2011. It expresses her pain and gives her courage to live.
She believes the ballad is a cry of souls from those 20,000 people who died during that time. For her, the best way to honour the dead is to lead a rich and full life. She calls the music ‘The Cry of Souls.’ Beautiful.
Listening to it brought out all kinds of feelings in me: nostalgia, regret, joy and a sense of transcendence; the whole spectrum in fact.
Do others have a special piece of music that brings out extreme feelings?