My first art-love was classical music. After starting out on piano (duh, I'm Korean) I moved on to violin (duh, I'm still Korean). Even though I wasn't that great, I was good enough to get into youth orchestras and was perfectly happy hacking away in the back of the 2nd violin section. For a while, all I listened to was classical music. Yes, I know. It's hard to believe that I was that cool.
Classical music was my first introduction to having a real and deep relationship with art, and also an introduction to how art can really transport you. It also taught me how art can help validate being human, how creating is an invaluable, life-affirming human trait. You listen to Beethoven, and you're like, "Yeah! We can do it!" Ugh, that sounds lame, but whatever.
Anyways, I'm realizing more and more how important this experience was for me as an artist. Classical music is essentially abstract music, from the abstract notation that you have to learn to read, to the abstract structures like symphonies, fugues, etc -- even "sound" itself seems so abstract. And yet through such abstract materials people like Bach and Beethoven were able to create something so specific in terms of how it sounds and how it emotes.
I guess I'm just realizing through my work and through thinking that I'm way more interested in the abstraction of music than I am the history of Western Modernist abstraction, and I think the work is starting to reflect it more and more.
The "Grosse Fugue" from Beethoven's 13th String Quartet is one of my "desert island" pieces. Sorry that it gets chopped up.