If you listen to one piece of music today, let it be this:
When I need comfort, this is the best piece of music I can imagine. It’s one long movement. It’s one continuous narrative. There is no suspension of disbelief required, by which I mean you don’t really hear individual instruments as instruments, or hear the whole orchestra and think “that’s an orchestra”. You forget you’re listening to a performance at all. You forget you’re listening to something man-made called “music”. It’s almost as if you’re listening to perfection, translated into the medium of music. The notes swell and ebb, and you wander through a beautiful yet haunting landscape. When every climax is reached, when every section finds its conclusion, the music evolves gradually, and a new summit is attempted, a new path is taken. But the previous sections don’t end; they become (in turn) the backgrounds for what lie before you. Listening to the 7th is like hiking a ridge line in the mountains, cresting apex after apex, but your previous climbs are always behind you, receding only gradually into the past. At many points in the journey, you think you’ve reached the top of the mountain, only to see the sun glint off a snowy peak in the distance, and realize you can yet climb higher. The ending is abrupt and resigned, like freezing to death on the mountaintop. If you cry, it’s just the cold wind in your eyes.