The Beatles era

To ears honed by Mozart and Beethoven it sounded cacophonous. To teen-age girls it sounded far better: They screamed with unending delight. The object of these disparate views? The Beatles, those mop-haired fellows who 20 years ago this week brought their twanging guitars and new music to the New World. They also brought what we then thought were loud rock concerts - little did we know!

In time the concerts and the music sounded almost tame. The doubting classicists among us began to realize that these were accomplished musicians - their arrangements sophisticated, their harmonics intricate. Their songs generally told of love and peace, upbeat messages in a downbeat era increasingly preoccupied with Vietnam and assassinations.

Most of all they were good-natured lads who, unlike many other performers, never took themselves too seriously despite the extraordinary adulation. Their many concerts and few movies were full of warmth and humor, qualities as much needed as they are timeless.

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