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Classical Music Fans in Interesting Places: Susan Orlean

We recently caught up with author (The Orchid Thief, Rin Tin Tin) and New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean to ask her thoughts on classical music. She happens to be a big fan!

susan orleanWhat is your favorite composer or piece of classical music and why?
Handel’s Messiah. It’s gorgeous, stirring, classic, and majestic but human. It’s hard for me to hear it without feeling moved.

Is there a piece of classical music you don’t like? If so, what is it?
Hard to answer this, since there is plenty of orchestral music that I find sludgy and dull.

What is your earliest memory of classical music? Did this shape the way you feel about the genre today?
I grew up hearing classical music constantly: my parents were great devotees, and they had music playing at home almost all the time. We also went to the symphony (the Cleveland Orchestra — not too shabby!) from the time we were very young. I’m sure being exposed at such a young age and so regularly made me appreciate the music and got my ear accustomed to it. I also think it just made me love music in general.

What is your favorite time of day or place to listen to classical music?​
I’ve begun listening to it sometimes when I’m driving. It’s not the usual driving music, of course, but sometimes it’s just perfect, especially when I’m tired of the rattle and bang of pop music.

If you were to recommend one piece of classical music to someone who is unfamiliar with the genre, what would it be?
Handel or Bach — something beautiful and bright.

Thanks for talking with us, Susan! May your day be filled with the sounds of Handel. Cheers!

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