Yesterday an acquaintance introduced me to a person who was visiting our fair city. She told him (wanting to give a good impression of our town) that I had an encyclopedic knowledge of music, to which I replied, "What I know is rivaled only by what I do not know."
I'm kind of proud of that statement, because it is true, and I am confident that it will continue to be true for the rest of my life.
I used to think I knew a lot about music, and I did know a lot of stuff about a relatively small amount of music when I was a teenager. I knew the flute repertoire inside and out (and would study the 1967 Frans Vester catalog of flute music to strengthen my knowledge).
I read Grout and Lang, knew most of Brahms' chamber music by opus number, and could identify most of Bach's instrumental music and some of his cantatas. I knew much of the standard symphonic repertoire from going to concerts and from listening to the radio, and I read the books about music that were in the house. When I re-read those books now, and re-visit music that I used to think I knew really well, I can see how shallow my understanding of music history (and of music and musicians) once was. I appeared to have learned enough in the process of reading and listening to give the impression of being far more knowledgeable than I was.
Now, thanks to our friends at the IMSLP, thanks to 13 years of working at a radio station, thanks to 20 years of reviewing recordings, thanks to escaping the confines of the pre-1967 flute repertoire, and thanks to the musical arm of the internet, I am pleased to say that I now know far less about music than I ever have known in my life.
It makes life exciting when every day can be an adventure.