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Colorado, Think Tchaikovsky Ever Got Stoned?

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I applaud the Colorado Symphony Orchestra's recent decision to promote its music to a younger crowd -- and embrace the state's burgeoning marijuana trade -- by playing a series of "cannabis-friendly " concerts this summer.

Other than a bassoonist competing with the sounds of crunching Doritos, what could be the harm?

However, the idea of using pot as an enticement to introduce people to the glorious world of classical music strikes me as odd only because I doubt classical musicians imbibe. Ditto for the composers who authored these masterpieces.

Recently, I searched "Colorado Symphony Orchestra" on Spotify and listened, uninterrupted, to The Centennial State's finest musicians perform Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 in F Minor. Feet on my desk and eyes closed, I reveled in the soaring woodwinds, pizzicato strings and thunderous timpani, marveling at the concentration that must be necessary to produce such glorious tones. Thirsty for more knowledge, I Googled the composition and discovered that, while crafting the symphony in 1877-78, Tchaikovsky was keeping a close female friend, Nadezhda von Meck, apprised of his progress via frequent letters.

A few excerpts:

"This is the second day that I have worked on my symphony, and I am working very assiduously."

"Today I set about the second half of the symphony's second movement. The work becomes easier with each hour that passes."

"The symphony is absorbing me so much, that I haven't the strength to tear myself away from it."

And five months after beginning: "Yesterday and today I did not move from my desk, and today I have finished my beloved symphony."

This does not sound like the work ethic of a stoner. However, for argument's sake, let's suppose Tchaikovsky were alive today, living in Colorado and about to score a new opus. True, he wouldn't document the writing process via handwritten letters, preferring email, texts or Snapchat. But future generations of musical scholars would have ample proof of how difficult the writing process can be when your brain is awash in a haze of pot smoke:

"Stopped by local dispensary this afternoon to stock up. Ready to compose."

"Was all set to score the first movement when Steve from downstairs knocked. Spent rest of day playing Xbox. Will start tomorrow for sure."

"Note to self: Never check cable listings prior to composing. A Game of Thrones marathon? Are you kidding me? Lost another day."

"Overslept. 'Nuff said."

"Domino's guy was supposed to be here 30 minutes ago. Can't write a flute part without proper nourishment."

"Got up this morning and realized leftover Domino's slice had fallen on piano keys. Have to run to convenience store for cleaning supplies. Starting tomorrow. Promise."

"Forgot to get rolling papers at convenience store. Ran into Dave when I was leaving. Burned a fat one and then decided to catch Captain America at the multiplex."

"Made some serious progress today. Got through eight bars of first movement. Rewarded myself with takeout Chinese and Netflix."

"Dude, I am seriously behind on this whole symphony thing. Thinking of borrowing a few oboe loops from fave Mac program Logic Pro X."

"Forgot to back up work and accidentally hit 'delete' key on symphony file. Have to start over. Tomorrow."

Get the point? Mind altering chemicals may have fueled the Beatles during the Sergeant Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour sessions, but a four-movement 45-minute symphony? I think that requires a clearer head.

So Denver stoners/burgeoning music aficionados, please refrain from exhaling your now-legal product in the direction of the musicians and the conductor. Their sheet music may grow fuzzy, causing them to skip a movement or two.

Worse, they may ask to share your Doritos.

Copyright © 2014 Greg Schwem distributed by Tribune Content Services, Inc.