So I’m taking a classical-music neophyte-greenhorn-virgin to a concert – a prospect that’s both exhilarating and daunting. How do I know what he or she will take to, or like, and possibly even love? He or she certainly doesn’t.
When I was 18 and waiting to begin my first year at Cambridge University, I taught music to slightly younger teenagers, 12 to 16 years old, in a rough neighborhood school. I tried Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and the like on them – all to no avail. What finally got them going, surprisingly enough, was Bartok.