July 16, 1989 article by Hans Fantel. He writes about a CD his father gave him, a Vienna Philharmonic performance of Mahler’s 9th–the very show that they’d attended together 50 years earlier, which also happened to be the last the Vienna Philharmonic would give before Hitler rolled in.
But it wasn’t the music alone that cast a spell over me as I listened to the new CD. Nor was it the memory of the time when the recording was made. It took me a while to discover what so moved me. Finally, I knew what it was: This disk held fast an event I had shared with my father: 71 minutes out of the 16 years we had together. Soon after, as an “enemy of Reich and Fuhrer,” my father also disappeared into Hitler’s abyss.
That’s what made me realize something about the nature of phonographs: they admit no ending. They imply perpetuity.
All this seems far from our usual concerns with the hardware of sound reproduction. But then again, speculating on endlessness may be getting at the purposive essence of all this electronic gadetry – its “telos,” as the Greeks would say. In the perennial rebirth of music through recordings, something of life itself steps over the normal limits of time.