The Worrying Wind (And Music’s Sweet Air)

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It’s four in the morning and I should be asleep. But it’s windy outside so I’m not.

Lying here in my fretful bed, I’m reminded of the music of Walter Piston, whose sixth symphony has a questing restlessness reminiscent of the wind.

Despite his name, Piston’s music is anything but mechanical, which belies the fact he also wrote handbooks.

Orchestral music is the least ‘literary’ of the arts; even now I find it hard to put words to its sounds. And yet it was a work based on a play that first sucked me in: ‘The Tempest’ by Sibelius.

Shakespeare’s play has since become one of my favourites and it reminds me now – in my hour of need! – of music’s full power, of its ability to allay the fury of the elements with its ‘sweet air’ (I.II).

I think I’ll put on some Piston.

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