I have always found it interesting the connections the mind makes between certain senses and memory. For example, it fascinated me growing up to learn about Scriabin’s mental link between pitch and color. And it’s always uncanny how the sound of crashing waves (even on a stereo or broadcast on television) can make us feel like we can smell the ocean - or how the smell of a certain perfume can bring back memories of an ex-lover. All powerful images, yes, but here’s one I bet you can’t relate to: Liszt and pretzels. When I was an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire, I often would use my teacher’s studio to practice late into the night (and into the early morning). I remember that during my freshman year, she would keep a stash of pretzels around to satisfy her students’ late-night hunger pains. I was always practicing lots of music, but I would habitually leave until the end of the night - the Liszt 1st Concerto. Of course by this time, I was rather hungry and needed a little fuel for all those octaves - so I would happily munch away - pretzel bucket to my right - while working on the piece. Little did I know I was somehow imprinting that strange link between my fingers, heart, ears, soul, and tastebuds (!) on my brain. It’s so strong, in fact, that to this day, whenever I play that piece I can taste pretzels!

Now, that must bother me, right? Well, actually it doesn’t. Along with the pretzel taste this piece brings back wonderful memories of a time in my life when everything seemed right with the world. So, I wouldn’t  caution you against munching on pretzels during YOUR practice time - and I might get back to it some day - but for now, I have to get back to my Franck and espresso.


AuthorChad R. Bowles
CategoriesGeneral Musings