The Color of Music

Most of us have grown up with music to one degree or another. But the protagonist in Ellen Glasgow’s Barren Ground, Dorinda, had not, with the exception of church hymns. Reared in rural Virginia, she was unprepared for the New York City Concert to which her young doctor friend had invited her. She was laboring over the program, the composer’s names – Beethoven, Bach, and Chopin when the concert began with a gray summer storm bearing down on the old pear orchard back home.

I was surprised when Dorinda’s visions changed to delicate green and amber, and then violent clashes of red and purple. These striking descriptions continue for two full pages. I was sorry when the concert was finished.

I’ve enjoyed classical music for more than seven decades, but I have yet to share even a brief glimpse of what this girl experienced.