Wagner. To no other composer is ETA Hoffmann’s concept of the onus of intelligibility more relevant.

Little did I know that I was setting off down a long road when the sounds of Dad’s latest mail order long player wafted from lounge room to kitchen, causing my ears to prick up. It felt like a summons.

It emerged from the speakers – wedged in behind sofa arms, teetering records and newspapers – invisibly, as though from metaphysical space (which I suppose in a sense it was). It filled the dusty air of the cluttered gloomy room, portentous and full of meaning, but conveyed in a language I didn’t yet understand.

In some philosophical systems, music is placed at the top of the hierarchy of art forms because, being totally abstract, it is also open ended and unlimited in its expressive potential.

The other side of this is that its meaning is the least concrete, and therefore potentially the most mysterious. And that was how it felt. Expressively pregnant but, given my ignorance of everything about it, utterly cryptic.

So, I started...