… I had already had a conversion experience to Wagner the previous year, when a nervous but clever master named F. X. Sempill played us the overture and Venusberg music from Tannhaüser. It’s one of the few early aesthetic experiences I can still recall almost as if it were happening now – those opening woodwinds coming through the little speaker of the Philips gramophone, the quite new sense of restless sexual and emotional excitement. I remember listening to Tannhaüser and gazing out of the window at the surrounding woods, the real world suddenly at a distance. I had the sense that I had been shown something that, though “classical,” was from the future, something I had never glimpsed before and certainly didn’t yet understand but that I knew was going to become important to me.
It seems to me now it was a kind of pubertal initiation into the realm of high art, in which aesthetic experience was more then merely interesting or amusing.
Alan Hollinghurst, The Paris Review 199