Simon Bolivar Orchestra with Gustavo Dudamel, at Berwaldhallen. Desenne, Villa-Lobos and Ravel. Desenne was a modern composer unknown to me; not particularly interesting. Villa-Lobos I had heard of but didn’t know much about. I mostly went there to hear the Ravel pieces.


Listening to great music with my eyes closed leads to a qualitatively different experience.

It’s not always possible. I can only get immersed in great music – not any particular favourite piece of mine, but music with emotional and acoustic depth. It has to be performed well. And finally, the acoustics are important – this just does not work with over-amplified concerts.

But when it works, it’s like magic.

When I see the orchestra, the music comes from the orchestra in front of me, at some distance. It has a location in space. It is outside of me.

When I close my eyes, the music comes closer, expands and fills everything. I am immersed in it. There is no more light or colour or movement, nothing to compete with the music. The music is no longer produced by people moving their arms and touching instruments. It simply exists all of its own. It is like a substance around me that swells and flows and shifts and pulsates, akin to an endlessly moving ocean wave in a world where gravity cannot decide which way is down.