There’s a local classical radio station that I often listen to on the way to work.Â Â Every now and then, I hear a piece that takes my breath away.Â Whenever this happens, I turn up the volume and forget the fact that I’m five minutes later than I should be and that I’ve just spilled coffee on my jacket.Â The music takes me both out of myself and into myself, in a way that only music can do.
This happened recently with Joshua Bell’s rendition of “Song to the Moon,” from the Dvorak opera Rusalka (the violin comes in around :50):
I know nothing about this opera (or any opera, really), but I do know that this song really got me.Â It’s so hard to explain the effect that a good piece of music has on me; every time I try to describe it in writing, it just feels lame or sappy or trite.Â Â Then I found this quotation from Edgar Watson Howe: “When people hear good music, it makes them homesick for something they never had, and never will have.” Those words really struck me. I think they do a powerfulÂ job of capturing the wistfulness and longing that a beautiful song can evoke.
I’m not really sure what I’m longing for when I hear a song like this, except maybe to hear it again.Â Or maybe it’s a longing for God, for the radiance and perfection of the divine.Â In that case, I’d have to disagree slightly with Mr. Howe.Â We’re homesick for something that we’ll never have in this world, but that we can be sure to find in the next.