Dear Reader,

We don't usually think about it, but there is something much "deeper" about hearing than seeing, something that provokes a more powerful emotional response.

In the era of silent movies, for example, a pianist was required to bring out the emotional significance of a love scene.

People who become deaf generally report feeling more isolated than those who become blind.

Studies show that, without sound, we can watch a video of a wounded animal or a person being tormented with relative equanimity. But turn the sound on and - even without the picture - it quickly becomes unbearable.

The human brain is exquisitely sensitive to sound. Yet what do most of us hear in the background each day? Cars honking. Lawnmowers grinding. Dogs barking. Radios blasting. Or the incessant chatter of the idiot box.

I was reminded of this in St. Petersburg Saturday, when I was chatting with my good friend Rustem Hayroudinoff, a Russian classical pianist and Chandos recording artist who, incidentally, had blown everyone away the night before with a jaw-dropping performance at the Renaissance Vinoy.

Rustem is a great believer in the spiritual power of great music. He calls it "liquid art." Aside from being a concert performer and recording artist, Rustem teaches at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He told me his toughest job is getting his students, some of whom are headed for international stardom, to understand that music is not just about perfecting the notes. It is about expressing the deepest and most profound human emotions.

"When a member of the audience comes up to me after a performance," Rustem confided, "and says 'I can't believe how fast your fingers were moving' or 'How can you possibly remember all those notes?' I feel like they missed the point, really. But when someone says, 'Rustem, that sonata you played brought tears to my eyes,' I bow my head and say 'thank you' because they understood what I was saying and they were moved by it."

The wisest among us have always known this. The German poet Berthold Auerbach said "music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." Victor Hugo believed music expressed "that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." Beethoven called it "the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life." Nietzche insisted that without music "life would be a mistake."

Yet the Recording Industry Association tells us that classical music today makes up less than 3% of total industry sales. Many of us are so busy working, playing or rushing to our next appointment that we rarely take even a few minutes to appreciate it.

If this sounds like you, I have a suggestion. Pick up a recording of Mozart's violin sonatas. With hundreds of great classical works out there this may sound needlessly prescriptive, but stick with me a moment.

Mozart was a composer without equal. And his violin sonatas are not only beautiful, they are eminently listenable - even to those who claim to have no taste for serious music.

Tchaikovsky said "Mozart is the highest, the culminating point that beauty has attained in the sphere of music."

Albert Einstein said, "The music of Mozart is of such purity and beauty that one feels he merely found it - that it has always existed as part of the inner beauty of the universe waiting to be revealed."

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a music snob. When I go to the beach, I want to hear Bob Marley. If I'm having friends over for a barbecue, I'm likely to put on Springsteen or Van Morrison.

But find a quiet moment to put on a Mozart violin sonata and, instantly, the whole atmosphere changes. The room becomes an oasis of calm sophistication. Put it on in your car and instead of feeling frustrated that you're stuck in traffic, you're grateful to have a few quiet minutes to contemplate something so beautiful.

Serious listeners might fume that I'm suggesting you use these immortal works as mood music, a kind of sonic wallpaper. But I'm not.

Yes, it may start out that way. But the longer you listen, the more that will be revealed to you. Harmonies and melodies that escaped you at first eventually become obvious. Keep listening and, at some point, you will be struck by the almost mathematical beauty of it all.

I don't mean to rhapsodize here. True, I'm a music lover. But I'm only pointing the way toward something that can have a powerful, positive impact on you each day.

As Anthony Storr writes in "Music and the Mind," "Music exalts life, enhances life, and gives it meaning It is an irreplaceable, undeserved, transcendental blessing."

So get your hands on a Mozart violin sonata. (Click here for a sample listen - or to order one from Amazon. They have several discs to choose from.)

The human response to organized sound is a mysterious - some would say highly spiritual - thing. No one truly understands it.

But as Aldous Huxley famously said, "After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music."

Carpe Diem,


Author's Bio: 

Alexander Green has recently launched Spiritual Wealth (

What is “Spiritual Wealth,” exactly?
According to Alex:
"Anything that can be measured in dollars and cents, I call material wealth. Everything else – the love of our families, the health we enjoy, the time we spend doing things we enjoy or working on things that really matter – I call spiritual wealth."

Alex is also the Chairman of Investment U, where his actionable investment ideas are published three times a week. He’s the Investment Director of The Oxford Club, as well, where he’s beaten the S&P 500 nearly 5-to-1 over the last five years.