This page is dedicated to all whose
artistic acts of love have enriched humanity.
As examples, it includes only a handful of personal choices,
for the most part musical, and is, and must be, an ongoing project.
As a foundation for the examples included herein I urge everyone who visits this page to read Francis Brabazon's formidable comment on art, Book V, Stay With God, prefaced with the Theme:
Art is an act of love in likeness of itself - Spirit
moulding matter into lovely form: God's compassion
as Avatar unto men; and men's devotion to Avatar as God,
by God - for devotion is by grace alone.
Present deepening global travail is a sure indication of imminent universal spiritual upheaval: it is our consolation regarding the consequent upliftment of humanity to a state of cooperative love. Certitude of the direction of our artistic future is also in divine assurance that this great book, requested by love's Avatar and completed with inner help, will one day be in every home, a sure inspiration to all who read it, artists and everyone. Aside from the text, a look at the notes presents to the reader the rich tapestry of its background, for Francis said he once read for ten years in his quest to discover the source of beauty in art.
Stay With God - Book V
MusicIn Part 1, Book V, Stay With God, Western music since Plainsong is summarised thus:
This astonishing assertion is sure to attract passionate critisism, for and against, and while some might see it as negatively as a brash and egocentric outburst, for others it is already an inspiration making them glad that someone has at last given voice to what they feel... that classical music is for the most part intellectualism boasting very little true beauty: that Vivaldi is junk food churned off a Venician assembly line (ever a city of merchants), that Brahms is long-winded and boring and that Wagner's ability to write week-long operatic score, two-handed, didn't spare him from the justified parody of Anna Russell. Whatever you take it to be, one thing is certain, it is not an ill-informed view. Indeed, because it is so well-informed, a statement that dismisses the work of all but thirteen individuals since Plainsong... "the rest swilling sentimental violence"... deserves particular attention. It is the educated opinion of biographer, Ross Keating, that Brabazon used an angry voice in Stay With God. He had been priviliged to accompany the Avatar on the Andhra tour of 1954 and had there witnessed "God-Man as World Axis and Living Perfection of Art". Journey With God is his account of the tour. Before he returned to Australia Meher Baba asked him to write a book; it turned out to be Stay With God - A statement in illusion on Reality ("...here is the book on the theme you set me, and which I took into my heart and pondered to the end that your dear Name be known to men, and send perhaps one to your feet...").
Back in Australia, he set about the task fully imbued with a "spirit of holy wrath at the West's jaundiced, self-driven art." Keating has also suggested that he may have been miffed that his Melbourne artist friends, those he would later call an ungodly lot, certain Angry Penquins, didn't take his work seriously.
"Ezra Pound is generally considered the poet most responsible for defining and promoting a modernist aesthetic in poetry. In the early teens of the twentieth century, he opened a seminal exchange of work and ideas between British and American writers, and was famous for the generosity with which he advanced the work of such major contemporaries as W. B. Yeats, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, H.D., James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and especially T. S. Eliot." I am told, "someone said (possibly Hugh Kenner) if you want to understand modernist poetry you have to climb Pound's collected works (especially his Cantos)... they stand like a great big mountain that takes up all the path... there's no way around them." I don't agree. I don't think Beethoven had to climb over daddy Bach to become the greatest musician the West has ever known. In light of the above it might be said that Bach put a mountain on the path when he wrote the The Well Tempered Clavier (four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie). What he did, in fact, was define music for those who would follow. I don't think Pound's devotees can make the same claim for literature that Time has made for The Well Tempered Clavier, however. And I don't think Brabazon had to scale the icy peaks of Pound to compose Stay With God. He had read Pound, of course (I suggest he had eaten him without suffering indigestion), and recognized his greatness... he even rates a mention in Book V, verse 36... Since Dante and Chaucer, etc... "from Pound, harmony on a lute played with a rifle trigger and sometimes almost making music." Did Pound read Brabazon? Francis sent him Stay With God and received no reply. Perhaps Pound will go down in history as the greatest literary voice of The End Days, the modernist days before the Love's Manifestation and the era of The New Humanity? As for Stay With God, since it is post-Pound perhaps it should be classified thus, or since Pound is "most responsible for defining and promoting a modernist aesthetic in poetry" perhaps post modern would be appropriate. But this is all chaff for donkeys, for it is high time we stopped compartmentalizing everything, art especially, and let things be what they are to be appreciated according to the beauty (love's likeness of itself) they express? The beauty of Stay With God is that it fulfills its own criteria: "In this book I have tried to offer some praise to one who has not so much 'changed the course of my life' as given it sanction." It is not un-modern, however. In Dust I Sing, the book of ghazals that came after Stay With God, defined the shape of poetry for the future... not post-modern but a new and free form (Francis, himself, told me that the ghazal is a free form, a hint of direction for my own burgeoning poetic voice and something he knew I would understand as a musician).
Personally, for a young saxophonist in the sixties, Coltrane led the way (bear in mind that Parker was a generation earlier). Giant Steps was not a mountain, however; it was something to aspire to. Coltrane was great, highly talented, hard working, earnest and dedicated to the path he was on. He didn't achieve the freedom of those who came after him, however; he did not go beyond "sheets of sound" but his greatness allowed him to acknowledge the further progress of those who did. Eric Dolphy, too, was a unique voice, a dedicated and obsessive reeds genius.
Francis once suggested to me that I undertake a thorough study of art by reading through the library of reference books in the notes of Stay With God (years later I thought I might but didn't, although I did acquire some, and some I already had). I argued that that would not be necessary as his work was their quintessence. The Beloved had already familiarized me with beauty, I said, and Stay With God would familiarize me with anything more I needed to know. That a younger artist might thus view his work had not occured to him and after a moment of reflective delight, he acknowledged my effusive outburst as a compliment, as was intended, and not flattery.
There is an interesting error in verse 37, Book V, which may ruffle the feathers of those whose job it is to dissect poetry, not write it. As I have said elsewhere concerning the still raging argument over his postumously discovered letters, a far more practical pastime for the eggheads trying to discern the meaning of Beethoven's "unsterbliche Geliebte" would be to put as much effort into discovering for themselves what he had discovered: that there is an eternal Beauty behind the curtain of form, whose lover (also the artist, depending upon the magnitude of his or her inspiration and self-tools) may make a mere gross representation or description... and civilization would be meaner without it... and that to truly love a woman is to love the eternal beauty which engenders her, the Beloved of all, the "Immortal Beloved." The error I refer to is "DuPrey", which certainly refers to Josquim des Prez, sometimes represented as Desprez. It doesn't matter what this is, a bit of fun, poetic license to rhyme des Prez with DuFay, a genuine mistake or not. Francis was not devoid of humour. And he was autocratic, always a tenacious soloist. Typically, he lived and worked alone and much of the time had no one but himself for dialogue. Friends, but not of his spiritual inclination, artistic ilk or knowledge, were enlisted to proofread his work for publication and encouraged to voice their observations concerning the shape of the work in hand. They were his sole editor but Francis reserved the last word on how his work would turn out, as it should be. He worked from memory, ten years of books stored in his head. He didn't know French and I suggest that when he was writing Stay With God "DuPrey" was a detail overlooked by his editors not because it is unimportant in context of the main thrust of the work but because of their lack of knowledge of the history of music... unless it was just a bit of fun.
Plainsong and the Thirteen
Gregorian Chant [mp3] - Guillaume Dufay [mp3] - Josquin des Prez [mp3] - Palestrina [mp3] - Vittoria [mp3]
Monteverdi [mp3] - Purcell [mp3] - J S Bach [mp3] - Mozart [mp3] - Beethoven [mp3] - Bellini [mp3]
Liszt [mp3] - Bartok [mp3] - Villa Lobos [mp3]
These thirteen all have one thing in common: their work is not sentimental and is sometimes exquisitely beautiful (Plainsong, too, is not sentimental and might be called austere in its beauty). It is necessary to develop discrimination between sentimentality and ineffable sweetness in order to appreciate the difference between a glimpse of immortal beauty in music and that which is not. Music is of three kinds: that which appeals to the physical body, that which appeals to the intellect and that which moves the heart. Perhaps the best music incorporates all three.
In his essay The Duende: Theory and Divertissement Lorca states "The angel guides and endows, like Saint Raphael, or prohibits and avoids like Saint Michael, or foretells, like Saint Gabriel.Composers A-Z ('Five drops of milk strained out of five million buckets of blood.')
The Angel dazzles; but he flies over men's heads and remains in mid-air, shedding his grace; and the man, without any effort whatever, realizes his work, or his fellow-feeling, or his dance. The angel on the road to Damascus, and he who entered the crevice of the little balcony of Assisi, or that other angel who followed in the footsteps of Heinrich Suso, commanded - and there was no resisting his radiance, for he waved his wings of steel in an atmosphere of predestination.
The Muse dictates and, in certain cases, prompts. There is relatively little she can do, for she keeps aloof and is so full of lassitude (I have seen her twice) that I myself have had to put half a heart of marble in her. The Poets of the Muse hear voices and do not know where they come from; but surely they are from the Muse, who encourages and at times devours them entirely. Such, for example, was the case of Apollinaire, that great poet ravaged by the horrible Muse with whom the divinely angelic Rousseau painted him. The Muse arouses the intellect, bearing landscapes of columns and the false taste of laurel; but intellect is oftentimes the foe of poetry because it imitates too much, it elevates the poet to a throne of acute angles and makes him forget that in time the ants can devour him, too, or that a great arsenical locust can fall on his head, against which the Muses who live inside monocles or the lukewarm lacquer roses of insignificant salons, are helpless.
Angel and Muse approach from without; the Angel sheds light and the Muse gives form (Hesiod learned of them). Gold leaf or chiton-folds: the poet finds his models in his laurel coppice. But the Duende, on the other hand, must come to life in the nethermost recesses of the blood.
And repel the Angel, too - kick out the Muse and conquer his awe of the fragrance of violets that breathe from the poetry of the eighteenth century, or of the great telescope in whose lenses the Muse dozes off, sick of limits.
The true struggle is with the Duende."
Sufi leader, the great Hazrat Inayat Khan, a musician himself, begins his book on The Mysticism of Music, Sound and Word with the words, "Music, the word we use in our everyday language, is nothing less than the picture of our Beloved. It is because music is the picture of our Beloved that we love music." This implies degrees of seeing and sheds light on the saying, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." To clarify, in The Discourses Meher Baba states, "Everyone has moments of happiness, glimpses of truth, fleeting experiences of union with God" (the Beloved).
Composers Timeline from 300AD
List of Medieval Composers
List of Renaissance Composers
List of Baroque Composers
List of Classical Era Composers
List of Romantic Era Composers
List of 20th Century Classical Composers
List of 21st Century Classical Composers
IMSLP - Petrucci Music Library
Maurice Ravel's Bolero [mp3] is said to be a musical representation of the evolution, involution and emancipation of consciousness. And what mystery of meaning is in Cole Porter's Begin the Beguine [mp3] insofar as in fulfillment of the Avatar's request, from 31st January, 1969, when he shed the garment of physicality, till his interment on 7th February, at his tomb on Meherabad Hill in the presence of his body the Joe Loss-Chick Henderson gramophone recording of Begin the Beguine was continually played. According to Tchaikovsky, Brahms [mp3] could not compose. It seems he had a sense of humour, however. He was not a well-liked personality and once when taking early leave of a party is said to have asked the hostess to apologize on his behalf to anyone who had not already insulted him.
After he had "vociferated himself into some silence", and taking into account the beauty of his late string quartets and the time he spent perfecting them (nine months to get the final chords of the 'Adagio ma non troppo e molto espressivo' Opus 131 as he heard them, for example), I think it is safe to say that the string quartet was Beethoven's preferred form. Taking these sublime works, his communion with his Immortal Beloved, as a yardstick against which to measure the work of his contemporaries and those who followed, if applicable and where possible I have used a string quartet example in the following chronology.
Leonin [mp3] - Ockeghem [mp3] - Sweelinck [mp3] - Buxtehude [mp3] - Corelli [mp3] - Marais [mp3]
Alessandro Scarlatti [mp3] - Albinoni [mp3] - Vivaldi [mp3] - Telemann [mp3] - Rameau [mp3]
Handel [mp3] - Domenico Scarlatti [mp3] - Pergolesi [mp3] - Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach [mp3] - Gluck [mp3]
Haydn [mp3] - Cherubini [mp3] - Paganini [mp3] - Weber [mp3] - Rossini [mp3] - Schubert [mp3] - Berlioz [mp3]
Mendelssohn [mp3] - Chopin [mp3] - Robert Schumann [mp3] - Wagner [mp3] - Verdi [mp3] - Clara Schumann [mp3]
Smetana [mp3] - Johann Strauss II [mp3] - Borodin [mp3] - Wieniawski [mp3] - Saint-Saens [mp3]
Tchaikovsky [mp3] - Dvorak [mp3] - Faure [mp3] - Tarrega [mp3] - Janacek [mp3] - Elgar [mp3] - Puccini [mp3]
Gustav Mahler [mp3] - Debussy [mp3] - Richard Strauss [mp3] - Sibelius [mp3] - Erik Satie [mp3]
Fritz Kreisler [mp3] - Manuel de Falla [mp3] - Respighi [mp3] - Arnold Schoenberg [mp3] - Joseph Canteloube [mp3]
Stravinsky [mp3] - Webern [mp3] - Prokofiev [mp3] - Khachaturian [mp3] - Shostakovich [mp3] - Ligeti [mp3] Sculthorpe [mp3]
The discovery of polyphony was a departure from the original monophony still heard in India and elsewhere. The music of the troubadours had this much in common with Indian music. But while Indian classical music developed along metaphysical lines in its approach to the relationship of the Lover and Beloved and love's ultimate union, qawwali and ghazal singing, which have their origins in the middle east, sought the more direct route of the heart.
Bernart de Ventadorn [mp3] - Beatriz de Dia [mp3]
- Berenguier de Palazol [mp3] - Raimbaut de Vaqueiras [mp3]
'Renaissance... Knights of the Middle Ages and heroes of the Great Ages now hired officers;
the great bards and troubadours now verse jinglers and journalists...'
Solea del Chozas - Manuel and Juan Morao, guitars.
Canto gitano Terremoto de jerez accompanied by guitarist Manuel Morao - [Solea] and [Bulerias]
It might be said that flamenco, indigenous to Andalusia, is Indian at it's heart since it grew out of Gypsy culture over time. From a musicological point of view it is a cross-over form, eastern monophony shaped by western polyphony.
According to the Jews, to understand what it means to be Jewish one must be born Jewish. The same applies
to flamenco: you may study the theory and practice of it for years but you will still not be Gitano.
That is not to say you will never grasp the meaning of duende, it's inspiring principle,
or experience it and appreciate that not all flamenco is so inspired.
the pure brothers, masters of heart (saheb-i-dil), and the whole
linked flood of lovely singers in continuance after Krishna:
Abu bakr, Ali, Ibn 'Arabi, Juniad,
Attar, Abu Sa'id, Hafiz, Jelaluddin,
Chertien de Troyes, Daniel, Ramon Lull, St. John of the Cross,
down the present qawwals at the Baba-Sahavas singing to Baba."
...and the peerless Begum Akhtar [mp3]
The Goldberg VariationsGlenn Gould's Monumental Performance
from Bruno Monsaingeon's film, Glenn Gould Plays Bach
Beethoven as he might have looked in his prime.
String Quartet Op. 131.1
Adagio ma non troppo e molto espressivo
String Quartet Op. 135.3
Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo
Documentary: In Search of Beethoven
[Part One] - [Part Two]
The Life of Beethoven by Anton Schindler
Beethoven - the Man and the Artist, as Revealed in his own Words
Beethoven's Letters 1790-1826, Volume 1
Beethoven's Letters 1790-1826, Volume 2
It was no accident that Beethoven never married: considering the physically lovely teenagers that infatuated him, for the most part piano students above his social class, marriage to one of them would have been inconsolable, a distraction he could not have borne for long beyond the honeymoon. So he was saved from such monumental folly by his Immortal Beloved. As for his deafness, it was imposed upon him to prepare his inner ear to hear the sound of beauty itself and to consequently free him from social and worldly as well as musical constraints in order that he might express the song of the beauty now becoming audible to him. As the song says, "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound..." All sound, including the music of the subtle planes, is phenominal and the consequence of imagination, and a musician of Beethoven's stature that sound, being his own imagination,
I love the incongruity of this picture: the diva as housewife,
even if it is staged and she is only boiling water in her immaculate kitchen.
On the bejeweled fabric of the operatic firmament
a precious stone among beads of coloured glass.
Vissi d'arte from Tosca by Giacomo Puccini
Ave Maria from Otello by Guiseppe Verdi
Senza mamma from Suor Angelica by Giacomo Puccini
Another precious stone among beads of coloured glass.
A Case Of You [mp3] - Woodstock [mp3]
The Band - The Last Waltz
Make-me-feel-good rock-n-roll band, I'm your biggest fan - Joni Mitchell
Comic Relief: Indian Brass Band
Source: Pather Panchali - Satyajit Ray
Back to the top of the page