Our First Nights music class is over. I don’t remember a semester going by so fast or feeling so sad about a class ending. We now better appreciate five pieces of classical-music-game changers from Monteverdi to Stravinsky in the context of the culture in which they premiered. Our teacher was energetic, knowledgeable, talented, and funny. He loves teaching that course.
As promised, at the end, we were treated to a first night ourselves. Our next-to-last class was the “dress rehearsal” of IrrefutableTautologies, a composition for clarinet, piano, bassoon, flute and bass singer by Osnat Netzer, a member of Harvard’s music faculty. The last class consisted of another rehearsal followed by the “premiere”. The piece was as strange to our ears the first time as, I am sure, The Rite of Spring was to Stravinsky’s listeners. But hearing it in performance after two rehearsals, I actually began to like it.
And there was something special about being the only people in the world who have heard this piece. The audience gave the players and composer a standing ovation. Then, our professor said a few words, and class was over.
When I went to overnight camp as a child, I was the only one who cried when camp was over. I had that same feeling about the end of First Nights.