“Music is liquid architecture,” wrote Goethe. “Architecture is frozen music.” It’s a pithy, oft-quoted turn of phrase that makes intuitive sense. One needn’t read music, let alone study architecture, to understand that rhythm, structure, harmony, and precise detail amid sweeping grandeur are common elements of the two artforms.
Another common factor: unlike paintings and literature, which are largely passive, requiring us to approach their frames, to open their covers, music and architecture reach out in our direction, playing inevitable parts in our daily lives.
Until last year, North America had no major music museum with a building befitting its subject. Then came the opening of the spectacular and stirring Studio Bell, home of Canada’s National Music Centre in Calgary, Alberta (850 4th St. SE. Tel: 403-543-5115. www.studiobell.ca). It’s a deeply satisfying building to explore, seeming to unfold around you as you move through it. Like the best symphonies, it is at once majestically scaled and compellingly intimate.