Michael De Sapio

About Michael De Sapio

Michael De Sapio is Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. A writer and classical musician from Alexandria, Virginia, he attended The Catholic University of America and The Peabody Conservatory of Music. He writes Great Books study guides for the educational online resource SuperSummary, and his essays on religious and aesthetic topics have been featured in Fanfare and Touchstone, among other publications.

What Does Music Express?

By |2021-03-04T16:10:52-06:00March 4th, 2021|Categories: Michael De Sapio, Music, Senior Contributors|

Music is a constant part of our lives, yet its nature remains elusive. We tend to take music for granted, like any product or commodity, not realizing what a strange phenomenon and unusual gift it is. Aristotle acknowledged as much: “It is not easy to determine the nature of music or why anyone should have [...]

Art and Grace: St. Fra Angelico

By |2021-02-15T13:03:08-06:00February 17th, 2021|Categories: Art, Christianity, Culture|

Fra Angelico’s art, like his personality, is poised between the charm and grace of the Gothic and the realistic spirit of the Renaissance. That’s why he is the best model for the Christian artist, indeed any artist who is guided by higher principles and universal truth. The Annunciation One of the recurring themes [...]

Is Christianity a Story?

By |2021-02-01T20:41:07-06:00February 2nd, 2021|Categories: Books, Christianity, Faith, Michael De Sapio, Myth, Reason, Senior Contributors, Theology|

If we accept that Christianity is a story, emphasize the primacy of faith, and deemphasize historical testimony, are we not merely reduced to telling our different stories, without being able to point to anything as having compelling objective truth? The mythopoetic appeal of Christianity is strong and valid. Yet there has to be something that [...]

The Fine Art of the Essay

By |2021-01-13T15:01:11-06:00January 13th, 2021|Categories: Books, Culture, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors, Writing|

Joseph Epstein’s life and writing exemplify the ideal essay writer’s tendency to be a humane generalist rather than an academic specialist. Aiming at well-roundedness, the essayist also becomes freed from vogue words and jargon, a bad influence against which Mr. Epstein campaigns vigorously and wittily in “Gallimaufry: A Collection of Essays, Reviews, Bits.” Gallimaufry: A [...]

Modernity, Art, and Liturgy

By |2021-01-02T17:00:22-06:00January 2nd, 2021|Categories: Catholicism, Christianity, Senior Contributors|

One of the useful things Stephen Schloesser's "Jazz Age Catholicism" does us is to remind us that the church and the world are not hermetically sealed off from one other; things that happen in the church are very often related to what is happening in the world. Jazz Age Catholicism: Mystic Modernism in Postwar Paris, [...]

What Does It Mean to Be a Person of Culture?

By |2021-01-01T10:09:41-06:00January 1st, 2021|Categories: Christianity, Civilization, Culture, Liberal Learning, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors, Timeless Essays, Western Civilization|

True culture is a liberation from the ephemeral, a journey toward permanence and value. A cultured life, therefore, consists in more than just piling up facts; it must include reflecting on the meaning of man’s works—especially those works which have stood the test time—and how they fit into the larger scheme of reality. As the [...]

“The Trial at Rouen”: An Opera on St. Joan of Arc

By |2021-01-08T16:34:19-06:00December 22nd, 2020|Categories: Audio/Video, Christianity, Culture, Michael De Sapio, Music, Opera, Senior Contributors|

The mid-twentieth-century opera, “The Trial at Rouen,” tells the story of the final days of St. Joan of Arc, her imprisonment, and trial for heresy. Composer Norman Dello Joio employs themes of conscience, belief, and spiritual motivation; he makes us think about the consequences of institutional corruption and the power of individuals to rise above [...]

Prayer, Beauty, and Civilization

By |2020-11-21T10:16:29-06:00November 21st, 2020|Categories: Art, Beauty, Books, Christianity, Civilization, Culture, Imagination, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors|

In our zeal to articulate how Christianity has shaped civilization, we are apt to neglect the specific role of prayer. The good, the true, and the beautiful fostered by our civilization have been initiated and sustained by prayer. If one does not pray, what measure of human cultivation is one missing? Art and Prayer: The [...]

Beethoven’s “Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage”

By |2020-11-10T16:36:22-06:00November 10th, 2020|Categories: Beethoven 250, Ludwig van Beethoven, Michael De Sapio, Music|

In his short, neglected masterpiece, "Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage," Beethoven—who himself never traveled by sea nor left continental Europe—created a tone poem that reflects the Romantic awe of storms and the sublimity of God-in-nature. It also reflects, on a miniature scale, Beethoven's own story of suffering and transcendence. Those who have read previous essays [...]

Death and Transfiguration

By |2020-10-05T12:00:21-05:00November 1st, 2020|Categories: Books, Christianity, Death, Hope, Michael De Sapio, Philosophy, Senior Contributors|

Dealing with the topic of death, Dietrich von Hildebrand’s consoling book “Jaws of Death: Gate of Heaven” shines both in its “dark” and “light” halves, illuminating the eternal duality of human life and helping to reconcile its painful contradictions. Life is not a journey of diminishing returns, ending in darkness and the grave, but a [...]

The Mystique of Late Beethoven

By |2020-10-09T08:54:26-05:00October 8th, 2020|Categories: Beethoven 250, Ludwig van Beethoven, Michael De Sapio, Music|

Beethoven's late style was not a total break from what came before. Many things touted as revolutionary are really, when seen in proper perspective, evolutionary. Beethoven’s late period intensifies qualities inherent in all his previous work. It is filled with music that is warm-hearted, impassioned, and of breathtaking beauty. “The music is not pretty or [...]

Can Art Be Destructive?

By |2020-09-28T19:37:23-05:00September 30th, 2020|Categories: Art, Beauty, Culture, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors, Truth|

To maintain sanity and perspective, we must recognize that beauty is a transcendent ideal in which art imperfectly participates, and thus hold beauty above art. The wrong turn is due to a conflation of beauty with art and the related tendency to see art as an end in itself. As conservatives we often undertake to [...]

Sir Arthur Bliss’ “A Colour Symphony”

By |2020-09-12T11:11:14-05:00September 11th, 2020|Categories: Audio/Video, Culture, Music|

Sir Arthur Bliss created a piece of music that celebrates the life of the senses and the joy of creation, evoking deep cultural memories as well as a personal energy and dynamism born of bitter experience. “A Colour Symphony” stands as the most intellectually and emotionally satisfying attempt to yoke color to music. Many are [...]

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