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My first memories of Tanglewood are both obscure and precise. They came in the late 1980s, when I was a high school student in Worcester. For two consecutive summers, some like-minded friends and I piled into someone’s improbably-still-running car to make the pilgrimage to Lenox to hear Ninth Symphonies – Beethoven one year, Mahler the next.
Musically, my recollections are close to nil. Were the performances revelatory, lackluster, illuminating, routine? No idea. But what I remember so clearly is the profound sense of space that Tanglewood imparts to its visitors. Step out onto its famous lawn and the vastness of nature embraces you, the Berkshires silent and imposing in the near distance. But when the music begins there is an intimacy that, against the odds, makes the listening experience deeply personal.