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 art…Music 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.