Listen with Father: How I Learned to Love Classical Music

By Caroline Sanderson

A resonant memoir of a beloved father, evoked through the classical music he cherished.

It’s a bright Sunday morning. Here I come, four years old, walking down the stairs at home. Across the parquet floor of the hall I can see the door to the dining room is ajar. Music flows from behind it and so it seems, right at me. I step forward and into its embrace. I listen. Then craving more, I creep to the door and push it open so I can see my Daddy’s blue reel-to-reel tape recorder in the corner of the room. I love watching the spinning reels of this machine, marvelling at the way the tape unwinds from the fast-moving left hand one, while winding up much more slowly on the right. But today it is the music that has my full attention.

Daddy is sitting at the table in his shirt sleeves, his dark wavy hair flopping across his forehead as he frowns at his weekend paperwork. He looks up, irritated at the interruption, but then smiles when he realises that I too, am listening to his music. It is Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 in E Flat he tells me– the third movement, the Rondo. Always exact, even with a child as young as I am, he also tells me the Köchel number: K482. 

I quickly forget the name and number of the piece. And I especially forget the Köchel number. But to the day my Daddy dies, I remember the Rondo.

Quick select rewards