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In a recent phone call with my beloved stepfather, he expressed dismay over what’s happening in modern culture. The idiot box vomits new lows of endless hideousness. Not even football is fun.

He said, “Nobody cares about art. Nobody cares about music.”

I agree. I’ve had it with this horror show of violence, corruption, sexual assault and other vileness. I don’t want to weigh in on it, let alone waste another second of my attention on it!

If we want to improve culture maybe we should focus on culture.

So, imagine being a lucky member of the Parisian audience in 1894 who were the first to hear the this composition by Claude Debussy performed live. It astonished them so much, they demanded that the work be repeated immediately. It’s been described as a quiet revolution. Modernity was born here. As you listen, you will know how many other important works were influenced by this Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. Maurice Ravel, a colleague of Debussy’s said of it, “If there is music to be heard at the Gates of Paradise, it is this.”

Debussy was very clear about what he was doing. He said, “I love music passionately. And because I love it I try to free it from barren traditions that stifle it. Works of art make rules but rules do not make works of artMusic should humbly seek to please; within these limits great beauty may perhaps be found. Extreme complication is contrary to art. Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part.”

He also said, “There’s no need either for music to make people think! … It would be enough if music could make people listen, despite themselves and despite their petty mundane troubles, and never mind if they’re incapable of expressing anything resembling an opinion. It would be enough if they could no longer recognize their own grey, dull faces, if they felt that for a moment they had been dreaming of an imaginary country.”

This prélude takes you there. Listen.

Your soul deserves this.

Alexandra Bruce

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Alexandra Bruce

Alexandra Bruce

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23 comments

  • Alexandra,

    I just listened to this. It took me far away from all the crap and distractions of the world while it played, (then I had to play it again).

    thanks very much,

    Jeff Barrie

  • The state of the world is so sad and one day I found myself thinking, “Well, I only have about 20 more years to put up with all the lies and deceit”–and then realized what I was thinking! My husband, Bob, and I try to be part of the solution but admit that there are times when it gets pretty depressing–especially when so many people don’t want to hear what’s really going on. They choose to remain ignorant instead of waking up; however, there are more and more of us waking up and making a difference. You, Alexandra, make a difference and others like you make a difference.

    Being realistic about life here is necessary, but we need to have the positives, too, like love and this music.

    Thank you Alexandra–this music made me weep–first because it made me feel sad, then calm and peaceful. My husband and I swear it calms the fur children, too. Such beautiful music…thanks again for posting this and for all you do!

  • I agree completely with your comments, Alexandra! I love Debussy and listen to him, via YouTube, every night before bedtime.

    I have a Sony Walkman radio and listen to the classical station here in Los Angeles every day when I’m out walking or taking the bus. (I don’t drive anymore)

  • Boy, this sure caught my eye. I was thinking about Debussy only two days ago! in particular, the sonata for harp, flute, and viola.
    I used to be obsessed with Debussy when I was late teens and early 20s and I learned almost every piano piece he wrote. But that piece(the sonata) is so creative and uses the instruments in such a spare and economic way. Of course, I was thinking back to the days when I was consumed with this music and art and thinking in general and how it is in such contrast to what I think about these days. Exactly the crap you pointed out. It’s certainly not like they didn’t have that crap back then. Debussy died in 1917 so he saw the fruits of
    the corruption, media manipulation, and deliberate planning that resulted in the devastation of WW1. It’s not like that was some great time to be alive. I’m actually very glad to be alive right now. At least we’ve able to wake up to some of what’s been going on whereas back then virtually no one had a clue and were just led around like sheep.

    It’s a real balancing act trying to stay in the world of beautiful things, but at the same time reconcile all this shit we’ve allowed ourselves to be manipulated into because we were asleep to the possibility of people actually being that evil: JFK, USS Liberty, Oklahoma City, 9/11, Sandy Hook, Vegas, child sex trafficking, and on, and on.

    I think it’s ok to dedicate part of our time to looking into this stuff that we’ve been blind to for so long. We should have been doing it all along. We really should have been more vigilant so it wouldn’t have gotten to this point. Maybe once all this stuff comes out and is dealt with we will actually be more aware that people who strive to move up the various ladders(corporate, government etc.) have a tendency to be sociopathic so, hopefully we will be more vigilant and much less naive.

    I can think of a couple of good things already that have come out of this. The celebrity world and the sports world have plummeted. Even though most thinking people have always been aware that the celebrity and sports worlds were a complete fantasy with no basis in reality, now, I think, many more people have become aware of how nonsensical and thoroughly unattractive these two core pillars of our society, in fact, are.

    It’s the shock of realizing we’ve had such wool pulled over our eyes for so many generations we kind of can’t help dropping everything for a bit to try and make some sense out of it all. For me, crossing that mental bridge of 9/11 caused such an extreme shift in my worldview,
    yeah, it’s necessary to spend some time with this but we definitely have to find a way back to that world of truth and beauty.

    • I LOVE LOVE LOVE Clair de Lune and almost posted it instead but thought that the Prélude was a more developed and influential piece. You can even hear how it influenced Jazz!

      It was actually Michael Jackson’s favorite “Classical” piece (though I wouldn’t call this Classical; it’s Classic Modern).

      I listened to Clair de Lune for several hours over the past few days, in this loop that plays for over an hour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ea2WoUtbzuw

  • MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!! SIR! THOSE WERE Wonderful words and Beautiful Music! That must have been AWESOME to hear and see in person! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • I totally agree.

    We’ve become addicted to excitement which is like a narcotic the more we get the more we want and it is a distraction from who and what we are. Debussy’s contemplative music is a break from the frantic life, but there are other great artists as well.

    To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Look up Ecclesiastics 3 on the internet and read the entire chapter. Life is short and it’s not fair. Too short to waste on television that’s for sure. The sooner one gets in touch with the eternal the better and Debussy can help settle down anxious minds.

  • One of my grand laments about American society, besides a gross lack of refinement, human insight and mindless foci on the facile, prurient and dead ends for human evolution is the complete surrender to glitz, glad hand and genetalia .

    If you are wealthy you are able to make a few yearly performances of the great symphony orchestras of NYC, SF, LA, Chicago and maybe a few others. Another dead end for us proletariat due to a funds shortfall…tickets to Carnegie Hall or Dorthy Chandler ain’t cheap!

    Symphony music can and often does uplift one’s spirits and calm the vapors we incur due to the plethora of vacuousness which demands group, tribal and cultural attention.
    Debussey, Ravel, Strauss, Vivaldi and one not often mentioned but considered in some circles as having tapped some connections to the spirit on high, Finland’s Sebelius. I’ve managed to keep in decent, my now small collection of RCA and Deutche Grammaphon vinyls…lol, one problem, all the tools for listening have dissipated into the high teck of cd’s blah blah.

    Thanks for this one AB…aren’t ya glad I didn’t mention the ever popular Mozart? ( ; )

  • Thank you, thank you Alexandra for this wonderful post. I hadn’t heard this beautiful piece in many years. I closed my eyes, leaned back on the couch and I was led to a place I hadn’t been in years! I’m sure my blood pressure must have lowered to the spot my doctor has said it needs to go to. I ended up connecting my PC to my stereo amp and listening again with the depth of 14 speakers. Thanks again for this wonderful gift.

  • I am a massage therapist. One of the CD’s I play softly in the background is Debussy. I find myself doing a ballet of sorts as I work with people. My bodywork mirrors the rhythm and tempo of the music. Many doze off facilitating the relaxation and the releasing and letting go of stress and tension.

  • Until recently I was a teacher in a local art school and I noticed a few things that didn’t make sense. Firstly the art qualifications themselves that we taught were excellent learning experiences. These courses would help students develop critical thinking skills. But there were other ‘add ons’ that we were required to ‘embed’ into the student’s lessons that seemed to be a waste of their time. Then gradually the funding switched from the art qualification to the ‘waste of time’ stuff. So as staff we were obliged to prioritise that or face funding cuts. Then they made it so that the students had to pass the waste of time stuff otherwise the department would get a bigger funding cut per unsuccessful student the following year. So we had to prioritise it more and more. Then they removed funding for support for issues like dyslexia, autism, adhd etc. Loads of other things happened that made me think something really weird was going on. Most of the staff just thought management were idiots making stupid decisions. But now I’ve started to understand what art students face once they leave university, and that they in fact become redundant almost immediately. There’s a very good book on this subject called Dark Matter by Gregory Shollette. I’ve started to find out about how artists have created a sort of multi dimensional art world where they network to support each other. There is so much going on that is not supported by the art establishment. I promise you that culture is alive and kicking in the arts but I guess it’s under attack like everything else.

    • Absolutely–art does help students develop critical thinking skills. The study of art increases communication across the corpus callosum (CC), the bundle of nerves between the two hemispheres of the brain. When the brain is engaged in art study the action between the hemispheres increases leading to greater associative thinking. Wonder why art is/has been cut from public programs everywhere in the West? TPTsB do not want critical thinkers. Just as the classical education curriculum was done away with in the birth of public education, they’ve killed art education. Certainly, we all know why. Critical thinkers cause TPTsB problems. They are not controllable because once you learn a thing you can’t unlearn it. Critical thinking reveals truths which are passed on to others. Can’t have that in a world of need-to-know onion skinning and specificity, can we?

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