Character Education: Faith, Decision-making, and Charlie Brown

Character Education:

Faith, Decision-making, and Charlie Brown

Choose Wisely

Quentin L. Cook

keyold“Refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15).

 

My desire this evening is to share some counsel about decisions and choices.

Lucy Rationalizes

charlie-brown-lucy-baseballWhen I was a young lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area, our firm did some legal work for the company that produced the Charlie Brown holiday TV specials.1 I became a fan of Charles Schulz and his creation—Peanuts, with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, and other wonderful characters.

One of my favorite comic strips involved Lucy. As I remember it, Charlie Brown’s baseball team was in an important game—Lucy was playing right field, and a high fly ball was hit to her. The bases were loaded, and it was the last of the ninth inning. If Lucy caught the ball, her team would win. If Lucy dropped the ball, the other team would win.

charlie-brown-lucyAs could happen only in a comic strip, the entire team surrounded Lucy as the ball came down. Lucy was thinking, “If I catch the ball, I will be the hero; if I don’t, I will be the goat.”

The ball came down, and as her teammates eagerly looked on, Lucy dropped the ball. Charlie Brown threw his glove to the ground in disgust. Lucy then looked at her teammates, put her hands on her hips, and said, “How do you expect me to catch the ball when I am worried about our country’s foreign policy?”

This was one of many fly balls Lucy dropped through the years, and she had a new excuse each time.2 While always humorous, Lucy’s excuses were rationalizations; they were untrue reasons for her failure to catch the ball.

Decisions Determine Destiny

It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices.

freewill1During the ministry of President Thomas S. Monson, he has often taught that decisions determine destiny.3 In that spirit my counsel tonight is to rise above any rationalizations that prevent us from making righteous decisions, especially with respect to serving Jesus Christ. In Isaiah we are taught we must “refuse the evil, and choose the good.”4

I believe it is of particular importance in our day, when Satan is raging in the hearts of men in so many new and subtle ways, that our choices and decisions be made carefully, consistent with the goals and objectives by which we profess to live. We need unequivocal commitment to the commandments and strict adherence to sacred covenants. When we allow rationalizations to prevent us from temple endowments, worthy missions, and temple marriage, they are particularly harmful. It is heartbreaking when we profess belief in these goals yet neglect the everyday conduct required to achieve them.5

Some young people profess their goal is to be married in the temple but do not date temple-worthy individuals. To be honest, some don’t even date, period! You single men, the longer you remain single after an appropriate age and maturity, the more comfortable you can become. But the more uncomfortable you ought to become! Please get “anxiously engaged”6 in spiritual and social activities compatible with your goal of a temple marriage.

Some postpone marriage until education is complete and a job obtained. While widely accepted in the world, this reasoning does not demonstrate faith, does not comply with counsel of modern prophets, and is not compatible with sound doctrine.

I recently met a fine teenage young man. His goals were to go on a mission, obtain an education, marry in the temple, and have a faithful happy family. I was very pleased with his goals. But during further conversation, it became evident that his conduct and the choices he was making were not consistent with his goals. I felt he genuinely wanted to go on a mission and was avoiding serious transgressions that would prohibit a mission, but his day-to-day conduct was not preparing him for the physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual challenges he would face.7 He had not learned to work hard. He was not serious about school or seminary. He attended church, but he had not read the Book of Mormon. He was spending a large amount of time on video games and social media. He seemed to think that showing up for his mission would be sufficient. Young men, please recommit to worthy conduct and serious preparation to be emissaries of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

My concern is not only about the big tipping-point decisions but also the middle ground—the workaday world and seemingly ordinary decisions where we spend most of our time. In these areas, we need to emphasize moderation, balance, and especially wisdom. It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices.

Everyday Decisions

A wonderful example of the need for moderation, balance, and wisdom is the use of the Internet. It can be used to do missionary outreach, to assist with priesthood responsibilities, to find precious ancestors for sacred temple ordinances, and much more. The potential for good is enormous. We also know that it can transmit much that is evil, including pornography, digital cruelty,8 and anonymous yakking. It can also perpetuate foolishness. As Brother Randall L. Ridd poignantly taught at the last general conference, speaking of the Internet, “You can get caught up in endless loops of triviality that waste your time and degrade your potential.”9

Frivolous Distractions

When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals.

RushSocialMedia2PIXDistractions and opposition to righteousness are not just on the Internet; they are everywhere. They affect not just the youth but all of us. We live in a world that is literally in commotion.10 We are surrounded by obsessive portrayals of “fun and games” and immoral and dysfunctional lives. These are presented as normal conduct in much of the media.

Elder David A. Bednar recently cautioned members to be authentic in the use of social media.11 A prominent thought leader, Arthur C. Brooks, has emphasized this point. He observes that when using social media, we tend to broadcast the smiling details of our lives but not the hard times at school or work. We portray an incomplete life—sometimes in a self-aggrandizing or fake way. We share this life, and then we consume the “almost exclusively … fake lives of [our] social media ‘friends.’” Brooks asserts, “How could it not make you feel worse to spend part of your time pretending to be happier than you are, and the other part of your time seeing how much happier others seem to be than you?”12

Sometimes it feels like we are drowning in frivolous foolishness, nonsensical noise, and continuous contention. When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals. One father wisely responds to his children with their numerous requests to participate in these distractions. He simply asks them, “Will this make you a better person?”

When we rationalize wrong choices, big or small, which are inconsistent with the restored gospel, we lose the blessings and protections we need and often become ensnared in sin or simply lose our way.

Erosion of Judeo-Christian Values

But when culture, knowledge, and social mores are separated from God’s plan of happiness and the essential role of Jesus Christ, there is an inevitable disintegration of society.

apathydudeI am particularly concerned with foolishness13 and being obsessed with “every new thing.” In the Church we encourage and celebrate truth and knowledge of every kind. But when culture, knowledge, and social mores are separated from God’s plan of happiness and the essential role of Jesus Christ, there is an inevitable disintegration of society.14 In our day, despite unprecedented gains in many areas, especially science and communication, essential basic values have eroded and overall happiness and well-being have diminished.

When the Apostle Paul was invited to speak on Mars Hill in Athens, he found some of the same intellectual pretension and absence of true wisdom that exist today.15 In Acts we read this account: “For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.”16 Paul’s emphasis was the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. When the crowd realized the religious nature of his message, some mocked him; others essentially dismissed him, saying, “We will hear thee again of this matter.”17 Paul left Athens without any success. Dean Frederic Farrar wrote of this visit: “At Athens he founded no church, to Athens he wrote no epistle, and in Athens, often as he passed its neighbourhood, he never set foot again.”18

Subtle Influences

Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.

bigbenclockI believe Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s inspired message distinguishing between “good, better, best” provides an effective way to evaluate choices and priorities.19 Many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.

Even worthwhile endeavors need evaluation in order to determine if they have become distractions from the best goals. I had a memorable discussion with my father when I was a teenager. He did not believe enough young people were focused on or preparing for long-term important goals—like employment and providing for families.

Meaningful study and preparatory work experience were always at the top of my father’s recommended priorities. He appreciated that extracurricular activities like debate and student government might have a direct connection with some of my important goals. He was less certain about the extensive time I spent participating in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He acknowledged that athletics could build strength, endurance, and teamwork but asserted that perhaps concentrating on one sport for a shorter time would be better. In his view, sports were good but not the best for me. He was concerned that some sports were about building local celebrity or fame at the expense of more important long-term goals.

Given this history, one of the reasons I like the account of Lucy playing baseball is that, in my father’s view, I should have been studying foreign policy and not worrying about whether I was going to catch a ball. I should make it clear that my mother loved sports. It would have taken a hospitalization for her to miss one of my games.

I had decided to follow my dad’s advice and not play intercollegiate sports in college. Then our high school football coach informed me that the Stanford football coach wanted to have lunch with Merlin Olsen and me. Those of you who are younger may not know Merlin. He was an incredible all-American tackle on the Logan High School football team where I played quarterback and safety and returned kickoffs and punts. In high school Merlin was recruited by most football powers across the nation. In college he won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman. Merlin was ultimately the third overall pick in the National Football League draft and played in an amazing 14 consecutive Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.20

The lunch with the Stanford coach was at the Bluebird restaurant in Logan, Utah. After we shook hands, he never once made eye contact with me. He talked directly to Merlin but ignored me. At the end of the lunch, for the first time, he turned toward me, but he could not remember my name. He then informed Merlin, “If you choose Stanford and want to bring your friend with you, he has good enough grades and it could probably be arranged.” This experience confirmed for me that I should follow my dad’s wise counsel.

cook-choices-192x192My intent is not to discourage participation in sports or the use of the Internet or other worthwhile activities young people enjoy. They are the kind of activities that require moderation, balance, and wisdom. When used wisely, they enrich our lives.

However, I encourage everyone, young and old, to review goals and objectives and strive to exercise greater discipline. Our daily conduct and choices should be consistent with our goals. We need to rise above rationalizations and distractions. It is especially important to make choices consistent with our covenants to serve Jesus Christ in righteousness.21 We must not take our eyes off or drop that ball for any reason.

This life is the time to prepare to meet God.22 We are a happy, joyous people. We appreciate a good sense of humor and treasure unstructured time with friends and family. But we need to recognize that there is a seriousness of purpose that must undergird our approach to life and all our choices. Distractions and rationalizations that limit progress are harmful enough, but when they diminish faith in Jesus Christ and His Church, they are tragic.

My prayer . . . we will make our conduct consistent with the noble purposes required of those who are in the service of the Master. In all things we should remember that being “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” is the great dividing test between the celestial and terrestrial kingdoms.23 We want to be found on the celestial side of that divide. As one of His Apostles, I bear fervent testimony of the reality of the Atonement and the divinity of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

 

  1. Lee Mendelson-Bill Melendez Production TV Specials.
  1. From the moons of Saturn distracting her to worrying about possible toxic substances in her glove, Lucy always rationalized why she dropped the ball.
  1. See “Decisions Determine Destiny,” chapter 8 in Pathways to Perfection: Discourses of Thomas S. Monson (1973), 57–65.
  1. Isaiah 7:15.
  1. “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces” (William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, act 1, scene 2, lines 12–14).
  1. Doctrine and Covenants 58:27.
  1. See Adjusting to Missionary Life (booklet, 2013), 23–49.
  1. See Stephanie Rosenbloom, “Dealing with Digital Cruelty,” New York Times, Aug. 24, 2014, SR1.
  1. Randall L. Ridd, “The Choice Generation,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 56.
  1. See Doctrine and Covenants 45:26.
  1. See David A. Bednar, “To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood” (speech delivered at BYU Campus Education Week, Aug. 19, 2014); lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/to-sweep-the-earth-as-with-a-flood.
  1. Arthur C. Brooks, “Love People, Not Pleasure,” New York Times, July 20, 2014, SR1.
  1. Unfortunately, one diversion that has increased in our day is pure foolishness. When the Savior enumerated some of the things that can defile man, He included foolishness (see Mark 7:22).
  1. This happened in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as with the Book of Mormon civilizations.
  1. See Frederic W. Farrar, The Life and Work of St. Paul (1898), 302. There were philosophers of all kinds, including Epicureans and Stoics, rival groups who some described as the Pharisees and the Sadducees of the pagan world. See also Quentin L. Cook, “Looking beyond the Mark,” Ensign, Mar. 2003, 41–44; Liahona, Mar. 2003, 21–24.
  1. Acts 17:21.
  1. Acts 17:32.
  1. Farrar, The Life and Work of St. Paul, 312.
  1. See Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 104–8.
  1. Merlin Olsen was a hall of fame football player, actor, and NFL commentator for NBC. He won the Outland Trophy playing football for Utah State University. He played pro football for the Los Angeles Rams. On TV he played Jonathan Garvey opposite Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie and had his own TV program, Father Murphy. Merlin is now deceased (Mar. 11, 2010), and we miss him very much.

 

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Stress Management, Classical Music, and Edvard Grieg

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyold

Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men. ~Ether 12:4

Piano Concerto in A minor

From Wikipedia

220px-Eilif_Peterssen-Edvard_Grieg_1891Edvard Hagerup Grieg  (15 June 1843 – 4 September 1907) was a Norwegian composer and pianist. He is widely considered one of the leading Romantic era composers, and his music is part of the standard classical repertoire worldwide. His Norwegian folk music compositions put the Music of Norway in the international spectrum.

Edvard Hagerup Grieg was born in Bergen, Norway on the 15 June 1843. His parents were Alexander Grieg (1806–1875), a merchant and vice consul in Bergen, and Gesine Judithe Hagerup (1814–1875), a music teacher and daughter of Edvard Hagerup.[1][2] The family name, originally spelled Greig, has Scottish origins. After the Battle of Culloden in 1746, Grieg’s great-grandfather traveled widely, settling in Norway about 1770, and establishing business interests in Bergen.

Edvard Grieg was raised in a musical area. His mother was his first piano teacher and taught him to play at the age of six. Grieg studied in several schools, including Tanks Upper School, and Tanks School.[3]

In the summer of 1858, Grieg met the eminent Norwegian violinist Ole Bull,[4] who was a family friend; Bull’s brother was married to Grieg’s aunt.[5] Bull recognized the 15-year-old boy’s talent and persuaded his parents to send him to the Leipzig Conservatory,[4] then directed by Ignaz Moscheles.[citation needed]

Grieg enrolled in the conservatory, concentrating on the piano, and enjoyed the many concerts and recitals given in Leipzig. He disliked the discipline of the conservatory course of study. An exception was the organ, which was mandatory for piano students. In the spring of 1860, he survived a life-threatening lung disease, pleurisy and tuberculosis. Throughout his life, Grieg’s health was impaired by a destroyed left lung and considerable deformity of his thoracic spine. He suffered from numerous respiratory infections, and ultimately developed combined lung and heart failure. Grieg was admitted many times to spas and sanatoria both in Norway and abroad. Several of his doctors became his personal friends.[6]

On 11 June 1867, Grieg married his first cousin, Nina Hagerup. The next year, their only child, Alexandra, was born. She died in 1869 from meningitis. In the summer of 1868, Grieg wrote his Piano Concerto in A minor while on holiday in Denmark. Edmund Neupert gave the concerto its premiere performance on 3 April 1869 in the Casino Theater in Copenhagen. Grieg himself was unable to be there due to conducting commitments in Christiania (as Oslo was then named). [7]

In 1868, Franz Liszt, who had not yet met Grieg, wrote a testimonial for him to the Norwegian Ministry of Education, which led to Grieg’s obtaining a travel grant. The two men met in Rome in 1870. On Grieg’s first visit, they went over Grieg’s Violin Sonata No. 1, which pleased Liszt greatly. On his second visit, in April, Grieg brought with him the manuscript of his Piano Concerto, which Liszt proceeded to sightread (including the orchestral arrangement). Liszt’s rendition greatly impressed his audience, although Grieg gently pointed out to him that he played the first movement too quickly. Liszt also gave Grieg some advice on orchestration, (for example, to give the melody of the second theme in the first movement to a solo trumpet).

In 1874–76, Grieg composed incidental music for the premiere of Henrik Ibsen‘s play Peer Gynt, at the request of the author.

Grieg had close ties with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Harmonien), and later became Music Director of the orchestra from 1880–1882. In 1888, Grieg met Tchaikovsky in Leipzig. Grieg was struck by the sadness in Tchaikovsky.[8] Tchaikovsky thought very highly of Grieg’s music, praising its beauty, originality and warmth.[9]

Read more and listen to more Grieg selections here

 

YouTube Music: Classic Robert Schumann

Dinner Topics for Friday

key The secret to having it all is knowing that you already do.

Robert Schumann Symphony No 1 B flat major “Spring” (Frühlingssinfonie)

This is one of my favorite symphonies. It’s fun to watch how the various instruments are orchestrated in this video. ~C.D.

From Wikipedia

Robert_Schumann_1839Robert Schumann[1] (8 June 1810 – 29 July 1856) was a German composer and influential music critic. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Schumann left the study of law to return to music, intending to pursue a career as a virtuoso pianist. He had been assured by his teacher Friedrich Wieck that he could become the finest pianist in Europe, but a hand injury ended this dream. Schumann then focused his musical energies on composing.

Schumann’s published compositions were written exclusively for the piano until 1840; he later composed works for piano and orchestra; many Lieder (songs for voice and piano); four symphonies; an opera; and other orchestral, choral, and chamber works. Works such as Kinderszenen, Album für die Jugend, Blumenstück, Sonatas and Albumblätter are among his most famous. His writings about music appeared mostly in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal for Music), a Leipzig-based publication which he jointly founded.

In 1840, against her father’s wishes, Schumann married the pianist Clara Wieck, daughter of his former teacher, the day before she legally came of age at 21. Had they waited one day, they would have no longer needed her father’s consent, absence of which had led to a long and acrimonious legal battle, which found in favor of Clara and Robert. Clara also composed music and had a considerable concert career, the earnings from which formed a substantial part of her father’s fortune.

1830–34

During Eastertide 1830 he heard the Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer Niccolò Paganini play in Frankfurt. In July he wrote to his mother, “My whole life has been a struggle between Poetry and Prose, or call it Music and Law.” By Christmas he was back in Leipzig, at age 20 taking piano lessons from his old master Friederich Wieck, who assured him that he would be a successful concert pianist after a few years’ study with him.

During his studies with Wieck, Schumann permanently injured his right hand. One suggested cause of this injury is that he damaged his finger by the use of a mechanical device designed to strengthen the weakest fingers, a device which held back one finger while he exercised the others. Another suggestion is that the injury was a side-effect of syphilis medication. A more dramatic suggestion is that in an attempt to increase the independence of his fourth finger, he may have undergone a surgical procedure to separate the tendons of the fourth finger from those of the third. The cause of the injury is not known, but Schumann abandoned ideas of a concert career and devoted himself instead to composition. To this end he began a study of music theory under Heinrich Dorn, a German composer six years his senior and, at that time, conductor of the Leipzig Opera. About this time Schumann considered composing an opera on the subject of Hamlet.

1840–49

Robert Schumann music room

Robert Schumann music room

In the years 1832–1839, Schumann had written almost exclusively for the piano, but in 1840 alone he wrote 168 songs. Indeed 1840 (referred to as the Liederjahr or year of song) is highly significant in Schumann’s musical legacy despite his earlier deriding of works for piano and voice as inferior.

Prior to the legal case and subsequent marriage, the lovers exchanged love letters and rendezvoused in secret. Robert would often wait in a cafe for hours in a nearby city just to see Clara for a few minutes after one of her concerts. The strain of this long courtship (they finally married in 1840), and of its consummation, led to this great outpouring of Lieder (vocal songs with piano accompaniment). This is evident in “Widmung”, for example, where he uses the melody from Schubert’s “Ave Maria” in the postlude—in homage to Clara. Schumann’s biographers have attributed the sweetness, the doubt and the despair of these songs to the varying emotions aroused by his love for Clara and the uncertainties of their future together.

Robert and Clara had eight children, Emil (who died in infancy in 1847); Marie (1841–1929); Elise (1843–1928); Julie (1845–1872); Ludwig (1848–1899); Ferdinand (1849–1891); Eugenie (1851–1938); and Felix (1854–1879).

More about Robert Schumann  at Wikipedia

 

Parenting: Teaching Justice and Mercy

Dinner Topics for Tuesday

Teaching Justice and Mercy

June Value: Justice and Mercy, Introduction and part 1

From Richard and Linda Eyre

 

family3-silhouettekeyObedience to law, fairness in work and play. An understanding of natural consequences and the law of the harvest. A grasp of mercy and forgiveness and an understanding of the futility (and bitter poison) of carrying a grudge.

Sample Method for Preschool Age: Turn Taking

Begin to establish the idea of fairness. One of the first words that toddlers should learn is turn. Two year olds (and even pre-two’s) can understand this most basic form of sharing. Help them to take a short turn with a toy and then say, “Jamie’s turn,” as they pass it to the other child. Then help them to watch and wait for a moment until it is their turn again.

Praise them generously every time they give a turn to the other child. As mentioned earlier, some sort of timing device makes “turns” work better. Use an oven clock or egg timer to help small children take turns of two or three minutes. Explain that equal time is fair.

Sample Method of Elementary Age: The Sun and Cloud Game

This will help younger elementary-age children see that they can make themselves happy or miserable depending on their ability to repent and to forgive. Cut a yellow sun and a black cloud out of construction paper, along with two stick men or figures labeled “Billy” and “Eddy.” Set Billy and Eddy on a table or on the floor and tell the following situations. Have the children put the sun over the head of the child who will be made happy by his actions and the cloud over the child whose actions will make him sad.

  • A boy trips Eddy at school. Eddy is mad at the boy all day and keeps looking for a way to get even. (cloud)
  • Billy opens his sister’s drawer and takes some of her pencils. Then he feels badly about it and brings them back and says he is sorry. (sun)
  • Eddy gets hit in the back by a ball another boy throws. It hurts for a minute and Eddy feels mad, but then he gets over it and tells the other boy he’s okay and he knows the other boy didn’t mean to do it. (sun)
  • Billy leaves his mother’s boots outside, and the dog chews one of them up. No one knows he was the one who left the boots out there, so he keeps it as a secret and doesn’t repent or tell anyone. (cloud)
  • And so on — make up your own.

Sample Method for Adolescents: Discussion: Accepting Justice, Giving Mercy:

This will help older adolescents see the importance of both values and the relationship between the two. At an appropriate time ask older adolescents which they would rather receive — justice or mercy. Try to evolve this into a discussion where you are able to understand together that justice is something we should all be prepared to accept — for justice will always come, in some form, sooner or later. It is the law of the harvest and of cause and effect. Discuss the following quote by Emerson:

“Cause and effect are two sides of one fact. Every secret is told, every crime is punished. Every virtue is rewarded, every wrong is redressed, silence and certainty . . . cause and effect, means and ends, seed and fruit, cannot be severed; for the effect already blooms in the cause, the end pre-exists in the means, the fruit in the seed.”

After discussing justice, turn to mercy. Explain that while we should accept justice, we should try to give mercy. Do not be interested in making others “pay” for their mistakes. Do not hold grudges or carry a chip on our shoulder. Discuss how these tendencies make us vindictive and vengeful and cause us to poison ourselves and our outlook.

YouTube Music; Albeñiz and Classic Guitar

Dinner Topics for Friday

YouTube Music; Albeñiz and Classic Guitar

“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.” –Leo Tolstoy

 

Leyenda by Albeñiz, played by Andres Segovia

Albeñiz: Granada from Suite Espanola

 

YouTube Music: Classic Wagner

YouTube Music: Classic Wagner

 

key Don’t ask for an easier life; ask to be a stronger person.

 

Sometimes we need to ignore the life and philosophy of the composer, and just enjoy the music.

Wagner Tannhauser Overture

 Lohengrin Overture

musicnotesWilhelm Richard Wagner; 22 May 1813 – 13 February 1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor primarily known for his operas (or, as some of his later works were later known, “music dramas”). His compositions, particularly those of his later period, are notable for their complex textures, rich harmonies and orchestration, and the elaborate use of leitmotifs—musical phrases associated with individual characters, places, ideas or plot elements. His advances in musical language, such as extreme chromaticism and quickly shifting tonal centres, greatly influenced the development of classical music; his Tristan und Isolde is sometimes described as marking the start of modern music.

Wagner inspired great devotion. For a long period, many composers were inclined to align themselves with or against Wagner’s music. Anton Bruckner and Hugo Wolf were greatly indebted to him, as were César Franck, Henri Duparc, Ernest Chausson, Jules Massenet, Richard Strauss, Alexander von Zemlinsky, Hans Pfitzner and numerous others.[194] Gustav Mahler was devoted to Wagner and his music; aged 24, he sought him out on his 1875 visit to Vienna,[195] became a renowned Wagner conductor,[196] and his compositions are seen by Richard Taruskin as extending Wagner’s “maximalization” of “the temporal and the sonorous” in music to the world of the symphony.[197] The harmonic revolutions of Claude Debussy and Arnold Schoenberg (both of whose oeuvres contain examples of tonal and atonal modernism) have often been traced back to Tristan and Parsifal.[198] The Italian form of operatic realism known as verismo owed much to the Wagnerian concept of musical form.[199]

Wagner made a major contribution to the principles and practice of conducting. His essay “About Conducting” (1869)[200] advanced Hector Berlioz‘s technique of conducting and claimed that conducting was a means by which a musical work could be re-interpreted, rather than simply a mechanism for achieving orchestral unison. He exemplified this approach in his own conducting, which was significantly more flexible than the disciplined approach of Mendelssohn; in his view this also justified practices that would today be frowned upon, such as the rewriting of scores.[201][n 16] Wilhelm Furtwängler felt that Wagner and Bülow, through their interpretative approach, inspired a whole new generation of conductors (including Furtwängler himself).[203]

Wagner’s concept of the use of leitmotifs and the integrated musical expression which they can enable has influenced many 20th and 21st century film scores. The critic Theodor Adorno has noted that the Wagnerian leitmotif “leads directly to cinema music where the sole function of the leitmotif is to announce heroes or situations so as to allow the audience to orient itself more easily”.[204] Amongst film scores citing Wagnerian themes are Francis Ford Coppola‘s Apocalypse Now, which features a version of the Ride of the Valkyries, Trevor Jones‘s soundtrack to John Boorman‘s film Excalibur,[205] and the 2011 films A Dangerous Method (dir. David Cronenberg) and Melancholia (dir. Lars von Trier).[206]

Amongst those claiming inspiration from Wagner’s music are the German rock band Rammstein,[207] and the electronic composer Klaus Schulze, whose 1975 album Timewind consists of two 30-minute tracks, Bayreuth Return and Wahnfried 1883. The Slovenian group Laibach created the 2009 suite VolksWagner, using material from Wagner’s operas.[208] Phil Spector‘s wall of sound recording technique was, it has been claimed, heavily influenced by Wagner.[209]

 

Comments from You Tube

Wagner was dead 6 six years before Hitler was even born and 37 years before the formation of the Nazi Party.

I lately saw a BBC-documentary search on “Stephen Fry on Wagner” it’s also on youtube, Stephen a Jew himself is one of the biggest fans of Wagner’s music since he was child, some of his family died in the camps, is he allowed to like Wagner’s music? The conclusion is, many dictators (Mao, Stalin etc.) misused great artists like Wagner and Wagner never knew Hitler.

 

More about Wagner from Wikipedia

More music on You tube

 

 

Judeo-Christian Culture: Christian Art and Life of Jesus Christ

Dinner Topics for Thursday

keyThe best way to prepare for life is to begin to live.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

ChristsermononmountCarl Heinrich Bloch (May 23, 1834 – February 22, 1890) was a Danish painter.

He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and studied with Wilhelm Marstrand at the Royal Danish Academy of Art (Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademi) there. Bloch’s parents wanted their son to enter a respectable profession – an officer in the Navy. This, however, was not what Carl wanted. His only interest was drawing and painting, and he was consumed by the idea of becoming an artist. He went to Italy to study art, passing through the Netherlands, where he became acquainted with the work of Rembrandt, which became a major influence on him.[1] Carl Bloch met his wife, Alma Trepka, in Rome, where he married her on May 31, 1868. They were happily married until her early death in 1886.

His early work featured rural scenes from everyday life. From 1859 to 1866, Bloch lived in Italy, and this period was important for the development of his historical style.

His first great success was the exhibition of his “Prometheus Unbound” in Copenhagen in 1865. After the death of Marstrand, he finished the decoration of the ceremonial hall at the University of Copenhagen. The sorrow over losing his wife weighed heavily on Bloch, and being left alone with their eight children after her death was very difficult for him.

In a New Year’s letter from 1866 to Bloch, H. C. Andersen wrote the following: “What God has arched on solid rock will not be swept away!” Another letter from Andersen declared “Through your art you add a new step to your Jacob-ladder into immortality.”

Temptation of Christ by Carl Bloch

Temptation of Christ by Carl Bloch

In a final ode, from a famous author to a famous artist, H.C. Andersen said “Write on the canvas; write your seal on immortality. Then you will become noble here on earth.”

He was then commissioned to produce 23 paintings for the Chapel at Frederiksborg Palace. These were all scenes from the life of Christ which have become very popular as illustrations. The originals, painted between 1865 and 1879, are still at Frederiksborg Palace. The altarpieces can be found at Holbaek, Odense, Ugerloese and Copenhagen in Denmark, as well as Loederup, Hoerup, and Landskrona in Sweden.

Through the assistance of Danish-born artist Soren Edsberg, the acquisition of “Christ healing at the pool of Bethesda,” [formerly owned by Indre Mission, Copenhagen, Denmark], was recently made possible for The Museum of Art, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA.[1]

Carl Bloch died of cancer on February 22, 1890. His death came as “an abrupt blow for Nordic art” according to an article by Sophus Michaelis. Michaelis stated that “Denmark has lost the artist that indisputably was the greatest among the living.” Kyhn stated in his eulogy at Carl Bloch’s funeral that “Bloch stays and lives.”

A prominent Danish art critic, Karl Madsen, stated that Carl Bloch reached higher toward the great heaven of art than all other Danish art up to that date. Madsen also said “If there is an Elysium, where the giant, rich, warm and noble artist souls meet, there Carl Bloch will sit among the noblest of them all!” (From Carl Bloch Site).

Bloch’s influence

healingsickFor over 40 years The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has made heavy use of Carl Bloch’s paintings, mostly from the Frederiksborg Palace collection, in its church buildings and printed media. The LDS church has produced films depicting scriptural accounts of Christ’s mortal ministry, using Bloch’s paintings as models for the colour, light and overall set design as well as the movement of the actors in many of the films’ scenes. The most notable example of this is the movie The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd.

 

Great Artists, Praying Hands, and Albrecht Durer

Great Artists, Praying Hands, and Albrecht Durer

Dinner Topics

keyHappiness is where we find it, but rarely where we seek it.

prayinghandsQGreat Artists, Praying Hands, and Albrecht Durer

Late in the fifteenth century, two young and zealous wood-carving apprentices in France confided in each other their craving to study painting. Such study would take money and both Hans and Albrecht had none. Their joint solution was to have one work and earn money while the other one studied. When the lucky one became rich and famous, he would work and aid the other one. They tossed a coin and Albrecht won. Albrecht quickly went to Venice to study painting while Hans worked as a blacksmith.

After many hard years, at last Albrecht returned home as an independent master. Now it was his turn to help Hans. However, when Albrecht looked at his friend, tears welled in his eyes. Only then did he discover the extent of his friend’s sacrifice. The years of heavy labor in the blacksmith shop had calloused and enlarged Hans’ sensitive hands. Hans could never be a painter. In humble gratitude to Hans for his years of sacrifice, the great artist, Albrecht Durer, painted a portrait of the work-worn hands that sacrificed so much so that he might develop his talent. He presented this painting of praying hands to his devoted friend. Today, this master piece is a symbol of love and sacrifice and is familiar to millions of people throughout the world.

YouTube Music: Classic Brahms

Dinner Topics for Friday

keyAbility may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.

Hungarian Dance number 5

Brahms Waltz

Johannes Brahms

From Wikipedia

BrahmsBrahms, Johannes 7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer and pianist.

Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene. In his lifetime, Brahms’s popularity and influence were considerable; following a comment by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow, he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven as one of the “Three Bs“.

Brahms composed for piano, chamber ensembles, symphony orchestra, and for voice and chorus. A virtuoso pianist, he premiered many of his own works; he worked with some of the leading performers of his time, including the pianist Clara Schumann and the violinist Joseph Joachim. Many of his works have become staples of the modern concert repertoire. Brahms, an uncompromising perfectionist, destroyed some of his works and left others unpublished.[1]

Brahms is often considered both a traditionalist and an innovator. His music is firmly rooted in the structures and compositional techniques of the Baroque and Classical masters. He was a master of counterpoint, the complex and highly disciplined art for which Johann Sebastian Bach is famous, and of development, a compositional ethos pioneered by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and other composers. Brahms aimed to honour the “purity” of these venerable “German” structures and advance them into a Romantic idiom, in the process creating bold new approaches to harmony and melody. While many contemporaries found his music too academic, his contribution and craftsmanship have been admired by subsequent figures as diverse as Arnold Schoenberg and Edward Elgar. The diligent, highly constructed nature of Brahms’s works was a starting point and an inspiration for a generation of composers.

More about Brahms

 

YouTube Music: Classic Prokofiev

Dinner Topics for Friday

 

peterwolf2Do you have a wolf at your door? Join Peter to defeat the wolf, and get stress relief from Classical Music.

 

From Wikipedia

Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev (pron.: /prəˈkɒfiɛv/; Russian: Сергей Сергеевич Прокофьев; 23 April 1891 – 5 March 1953) was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century. His best-known works are the five piano concertos, nine completed piano sonatas and seven symphonies. Besides many other works, Prokofiev also composed family favourites, such as the March from The Love for Three Oranges, the suite Lieutenant Kijé, the ballet Romeo and Juliet – from which “Dance of the Knights” is taken – and Peter and the Wolf.

A graduate of the St Petersburg Conservatory, Prokofiev initially made his name as an iconoclastic composer-pianist, achieving notoriety with a series of ferociously dissonant and virtuosic works for his instrument and his first two piano concertos. Prokofiev’s first major success breaking out of the composer-pianist mould was with his purely orchestral Scythian Suite, compiled from music originally composed for a ballet commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev of the Ballets Russes; Diaghilev commissioned three further ballets from Prokofiev – Chout, Le pas d’acier and The Prodigal Son – which at the time of their original production were all highly successful. Prokofiev’s greatest interest, however, was opera, and he composed several works in that genre, including The Gambler and The Fiery Angel. Prokofiev’s one relative success in that genre during his lifetime was The Love for Three Oranges, composed for Chicago and subsequently performed over the following decade in Europe and Russia.

After the Revolution, Prokofiev left Russia with the official blessing of the Soviet minister Anatoly Lunacharsky, and he lived in the United States, then Germany, then Paris, during which time he married a Spanish singer, Carolina Codina, with whom he had two sons. Because of the increasing economic deprivation of Europe, Prokofiev returned to Russia in 1936. He enjoyed some success there – notably with Lieutenant Kijé, Peter and the Wolf, Romeo and Juliet, and perhaps above all with Alexander Nevsky. The Nazi invasion of the USSR spurred him to compose his most ambitious work, an operatic version of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. In 1948 Prokofiev was criticized for “anti-democratic formalism“, and with his income severely curtailed was forced to compose Stalinist works such as On Guard for Peace. However, he also enjoyed personal and artistic support from a new generation of Russian performers, notably Sviatoslav Richter and Mstislav Rostropovich and for the latter he composed his Symphony-Concerto.

Childhood compositions

Prokofiev was born in 1891[1] in Sontsovka (now Krasne in the Donetsk Oblast province of eastern Ukraine), an isolated rural estate in the Yekaterinoslav Governorate of the Russian Empire. His father, originally from Moscow, was an agricultural engineer, while his mother was described by Reinhold Glière as: “a tall woman with magnificent, intelligent eyes … who knew how to create around herself a warm, natural atmosphere.” Having lost two daughters she devoted her life to music and spent two months a year in Moscow or St. Petersburg taking piano lessons.[2] Sergei Prokofiev was inspired by hearing his mother practising the piano in the evenings – mostly works by Chopin and Beethoven – and composed his first piano composition at the age of five, an ‘Indian Gallop’, which was written down by his mother: this was in the Lydian mode (a major scale with a raised 4th scale degree) as the young Prokofiev felt ‘reluctance to tackle the black notes’.[3] By seven, he had also learned to play chess.[4] Much like music, chess would remain a passion, and he became acquainted with world chess champions José Raúl Capablanca, whom he beat in a simultaneous exhibition match in 1914, and Mikhail Botvinnik.[5] At the age of nine he was composing his first opera, The Giant,[6] as well as an overture and various other pieces.

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