Meditation was written in 1894 by Jules Massenet for the opera, Thais. This selection is in the key D major; which features two predominant sharps which are F sharp and C sharp. It also lies in common time which stands for 4/4 which features four beats per measure and the quarter note has the designation for one beat. It was originally orchestrated for a solo violin, two flutes, two oboes, English horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon, two horns, SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) chorus, two harps, and strings, however, the most famous arrangement for this piece does not feature the SATB choir.
Today, the piece is used most by world class solo violinists, such as Joshua Bell, who travel the world to play with different orchestras, as an encore piece. The cello virtuoso, Yo-Yo Ma has even done a recording of this piece with Kathryn Scott as the pianist that was transcribed for cello and piano.
My first experience with this piece was, luckily, a performance by a world class solo violinist. I distinctly remember sitting in the wings of the second tier at Avery Fisher Hall at my first Opening Gala for the New York Philharmonic. When Itzhak Perman walked out onto the stage I immediately felt a certain confidence coming from him that I had never felt from any other violinist before. This was the first piece I heard him him play. Upon hearing the first note from his violin, I began to feel like I was flying. It was truly an unrepeatable experience. To all of those who haven’t heard this piece before, i recommend that you stop everything you are doing, sit down, and just listen to it. Whenever I need to calm down, I will instantly play this piece in my mind. As always, thank you for reading and please leave your comment below.
P.S. This recording happens to be the exact one that I heard at Lincoln Center a few years ago.