A few years before my mother died, I persuaded my parents to invest in a stereo hi-fi system. My mother would only have such a system if it looked nice. So, they settled on a Bang and Olufsen system. Unfortunately, the aesthetically pleasing speakers sounded awful and we replaced them with something less pleasing to look at but which sounded good. When CD’s (compact discs) became available, I added a CD player to the system. By then, my mother was dead and the appearance of the player no longer mattered.
After my mother died, I was living in Kent. I used to visit my father on Sundays. We used to have lunch together in various restaurants in Hampstead village in north-west London. Always, after we had eaten, we used to viit the Waterstones bookshop and the Our Price music shop nearby. Often, I would purchase a CD to add to my father’s small collection. On one occasion, I bought a CD with some orchestral music by Beethoven.
Some weeks later, I asked my father if he had enjoyed that CD. He said:
“There is something wrong with it. There is complete silence for the first few minutes.”
I said that I would look into this. When I reached his house, our family home, I turned on the hi-fi system and inserted the problematic CD. My father was right. For the first few minutes, there was nothing to be heard. Then, I looked at the volume adjustment slider which was marked at equally spaced intervals from 0 to 10. I discovered that my father had been using the system with the volume slider set between 0 and 1.
The first track on the CD was Beethoven’s Opus 12: Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage. The first few minutes of this piece are very quiet, which is why setting the volume so low made it sound silent. My father’s penchant for barely audible low volume background music was the reason for doubting the integrity of the CD, which I had given him.
You can listen to the music mentioned above by clicking: H E R E