Wednesday, Marianne and I went to hear a performance of Dietrich Buxtehude's sacred cantatas and chamber works by the Buxtehude Consort.
You have to be pretty well-versed musically to know anything at all about Dietrich Buxtehude. But he was one of the great Baroque composers. Bach and Handel revered him.
Me, I went in not knowing what to expect. High-level second-rate music, perhaps -- a musician who was to Bach what Solieri was to Mozart. But I was wrong, wrong, completely wrong. It was beautiful stuff, not quite like anything I'd ever heard before. Imagine hearing Back for the first time. Or Handel. It was like that.
And the performance? I am put in mind of the single most useful thing anybody ever told me about classical and music. It was Tom Purdom, local music critic and a working science fiction writer for over fifty years, who told it to me of course. He observed that there are so many highly skilled, wonderfully trained, inherently good musicians performing such music today, and so few opportunities for them to play in public that you simply never hear a bad performance.
Really cleared up my insecurities about my musical ignorance, I can tell you. Nowadays, I simply listen to the stuff. It sounds good. I enjoy it.