This isn’t my first rodeo.
Every few years, I self impose a year of exploration – usually involving music, movies, and literature.
For example, I started doing this sort of thing seven years ago (June 10, 2009 – June 8, 2010, to be precise) when I spent one year…
Listening to every one of Mozart’s compositions. (180 Days With Mozart and Me)
Watching every Oscar-winning movie – from the silent Wings in 1927 to, at that time, Slumdog Millionaire in 2008. (81 Days With Oscar and Me)
Reading every novel Hemingway wrote. (70 Days With Hemingway and Me)
Reading Aristotle’s Poetics. (30 Days With Aristotle and Me)
It was a grueling schedule. But I loved it. I learned so much. Plus, the bragging rights, alone, on something like that were worth it. In fact, to be honest, I undertook the project because I wanted to accomplish something big before my 50th birthday. I didn’t want another year to go by without doing something spectacular. That, to me, was my idea of spectacular. Some cats like to skydive. Or run with the bulls in Pamplona. Or, I don’t know, discover a cure for cancer. Not me. I like to stimulate my mind and assuage my hunger for creative discoveries. Go figure.
I tried it again a year later (June 30, 2011 – June 28, 2012) starting with the films of Billy Wilder (27 Days With Billy Wilder and Me) and the entire creative output of Bach (155 Days With Bach and Me). But I stopped shortly into the Bach exploration because of a family emergency and because I could not stand to hear one more period-piece instrument play Bach. I detest the harpsichord. In small doses, it’s wonderful. Very Baroque. But day after day after day it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. I had to search for another Bach complete works set that used contemporary instruments. I found one.
But the momentum was broken. I never returned to that project.
Yet, I missed that mental and emotional stimulation – so much so that I overcompensated for the next one. Not content with just one year, this time I set up a schedule for three solid years and called it 1095 Days With the Masters and Me.
I got through the first year and a half, which consisted of:
The complete works of Haydn (Oct. 1, 2013 – Feb. 27, 2014) – 150 days
The complete films of Woody Allen (Feb. 28, 2014 – April 14, 2014) – 46 days
The complete works of Beethoven (April 15, 2014 – July 9, 2014) – 86 days
The Great Gatsby, every novel, every movie version (July 10, 2014 – Aug. 3, 2014) – 24 days
The complete works of Brahms (Aug. 4, 2014 – October 1, 2014) – 58 days
I loved it. Learned a lot…especially that I was totally flipped out by Beethoven. I mean, that guy touched my soul like no other composer (save Mozart) had to date. If I accomplished nothing else, at least I discovered how much I love Beethoven.
The schedule for the next two years of that project can be found here:
But I couldn’t do it.
Three years of listening, reading, researching, blogging proved to be too much. Plus, I learned two things about myself – and key to my projects:
1. Reading and blogging is impossible (for me) to do at the same time. I can listen to music anywhere, and did. That was fun, and easy. Ditto for watching the movies of Woody Allen. I could blog and watch them at the same time. But reading and writing was not possible to do at the same time. So my workload for that project doubled. I had to read at one point during the day, and blog at another, and
2. I prefer creating a new web site with every new project. My 1095 Days site was one huge site that was impossible to navigate quickly and didn’t afford me a creative break between artistic discoveries.
All this while I was trying to build up my consulting/life coaching business at the same time.
So, I walked away from 1095 Days With the Masters and Me after a year and a half. (Thankfully, not before I discovered Beethoven!)
I haven’t imposed one of these year-long explorations since then.
That is, until I discovered Anton Bruckner.
I was hooked by Anton Bruckner from the minute I heard Symphony No. 8 on WBLV FM 88.9, a local Classical radio station. I don’t remember now if it was Herbert von Karajan or Klaus Tennstedt conducting.
I bought two CDs immediately after it was finished: Karajan conducting the Eighth on the Deutsche Grammophon label and Tennstedt conducting the Fourth and the Eighth on the EMI label.
According to Amazon, I bought Karajan first, then Tennstedt 10 days later. (Both in 2009.) But that’s doesn’t mean I heard Karajan first. But it’s likely.
What does matter is that, as I learned first-hand, music is subjective. I had listened to Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Brahms, Caruso, and Beethoven. And it was Mozart and Beethoven that hooked me, especially Beethoven. Mozart’s creative output was 2-3 times greater than Beethoven’s. But Beethoven packed an emotional wallop for me that instantly grabbed me.
Same for Bruckner.
I can’t explain why I was immediately drawn to Bruckner. All I know is ever since I heard Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 I’ve wanted to hear all of his symphonies, and hear them from the perspective of various conductors.
This year, almost seven years to the day after I first fell in love with Bruckner, I decided to make it happen. (I’m not kidding, either. According to Amazon, I placed my order for Karajan on June 16, 2009. I placed my order for Jochum’s box set of Bruckner symphonies on June 19, 2016.)
So the first leg of my year-long exploration (which I call “A composer, two pianists, and a poet”) begins with the symphonic works of Anton Bruckner, arranged by box set, alphabetical by primary composer. One symphony per day per conductor, which means
9 x 16 = 144 days
I begin this leg of my journey on Monday, October 3, 2016.
I had planned on listening to Artur Rubinstein’s Complete Album Collection, then Glenn Gould’s Complete Bach Collection, then round it all out with the Complete Works of Emily Dickinson for a total of 365 days.
I had planned to call my year “A Composer, Two Pianists, and a Poet.”
However, after I discovered how much I love listening to Bruckner, and researching his life and those who interpreted his music, I realized three things:
1. That there are eight more Bruckner CD box sets to which I needed to listen,
2. That Richard Wagner played a huge role in Anton Bruckner’s life, and
3. That Conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler’s complete recordings are available in a single box set,
I knew I wanted to focus on Bruckner, Wagner’s Der Ring Des Nibelungen (billed as “the greatest recording of all time”), and Furtwangler.
Sort of the Austro-German triumvirate, as it were.
So I scrapped Rubinstein, Gould, and Dickinson. (Why not? It’s my year.)
The total of days for those four legs of my journey is…
144 Days With Bruckner and Me
63 More Days With Bruckner and Me
107 Days With Furtwangler and Me
16 Days With Wagner and Me
That means I have 35 days left in the year.
I could read Emily Dickinson. I’ve always wanted to. But reading a book and writing a blog about it takes 2-3 times longer than listening to music and writing a blog about it. I know that from experience.
So I want more music.
Therefore, I decided that I want to listen to the complete works (studio and live) of either the progressive-rock band King Crimson, or the complete works (studio albums) of the pop-rock band the Beatles. Both could be done in 35 days. And I have the CDs from both to swing it.
If I choose the Beatles, I’ll listen to the Beatles complete Black Box (stereo) and the Beatles complete White Box (mono).
If I choose King Crimson, I’ll start with In the Court of the Crimson King (1969).
Few albums have equaled In the Court of the Crimson King in influence.
If the genre of progressive rock had not already begun (albeit daintily, perhaps even unwittingly), this album would have kicked it into high gear.
In the Court is the album to end all albums in this genre.
And I’d finish with Crimso’s latest album, Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind (2016).
I haven’t decided yet.
However, I do know this: Classical music can get quite sedate. And sometimes I want to rock out. So I’m not likely to fill in those 35 days with more Classical music.
But King Crimson?
Or the Beatles?
You’re welcome to join me as I explore.
What else do you have to do?