Michael De Sapio

The Transcendent Beauty of Icons

By |2019-12-09T14:46:29-06:00December 7th, 2019|Categories: Art, Beauty, Christianity, Culture, Michael De Sapio, Orthodoxy, Western Civilization|

While much Western art immerses us in the richness of this world with its spacial and emotional realism, the Eastern Orthodox tradition uses only painted images, with icons of Christ, Mary, and the saints functioning as “windows into heaven,” by way of stylized forms that convey a Platonic ideal of beauty and truth. Virgin [...]

Triumph: How Two Dutch Girls Survived World War II

By |2019-11-26T22:10:06-06:00November 26th, 2019|Categories: Books, Film, Michael De Sapio, World War II|

In "Dutch Girl," Robert Matzen describes how the young Audrey Hepburn survived both famine and fighting in World War II. But what brings this history home for me personally is the connection with a third woman, less well-known, who also lived in Holland during those times. I feel a special interest in her story since [...]

Berlioz’s “Te Deum” & Chateaubriand’s “Genius of Christianity”

By |2019-12-10T13:37:19-06:00November 13th, 2019|Categories: Christianity, Hector Berlioz, Hector Berlioz Sesquicentennial Series, Michael De Sapio, Music|

Hector Berlioz's version of the "Te Deum" surpasses them all in its colossal scale. The French composer has often been accused of bombast, but here the gigantic forces required are completely fitting for this cosmic hymn of praise. “[I]t was enthusiasm itself that inspired the Te Deum...[A]mid clouds of smoke and yet reeking blood, a [...]

The Beauty and Mystery of the Unaccompanied Violin

By |2019-10-17T22:30:03-06:00October 17th, 2019|Categories: Culture, J.S. Bach, Michael De Sapio, Music, Senior Contributors|

Playing violin unaccompanied is the most exposed sort of music-making, with a vulnerability that is both technical and emotional. Its music seems to bring out a personal quality in composers that one doesn’t always get from music for large forces. The purity of the medium and its limitations call forth a challenge to the [...]

Why Letter-Writing Is Essential to the Good Life

By |2019-10-10T12:06:28-06:00October 10th, 2019|Categories: Culture, Michael De Sapio, Modernity, Senior Contributors, Writing|

In an age when we have come to expect things to happen for us instantaneously, letter-writing is a school for patience. Letter-writing also has the mysterious power to convey not just the words but the presence of the person. It has been the nourishment of romantic love for ages. In writing letters, we participate [...]

“Il Poverello”: Saint Francis’ Piety for Man and Animals

By |2019-10-04T10:34:46-06:00October 3rd, 2019|Categories: Christianity, Culture, History, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors|

Saint Francis of Assisi took no created thing for granted, finding them all reflections of God and reasons to praise Him. For Francis, even the birds themselves praised God by their singing—an action we perform consciously with the assent of our reason and will. Some of the earliest literature in the Italian language owes [...]

In Time of War: Arthur Honegger’s Symphony No. 2

By |2019-09-23T12:59:24-06:00September 19th, 2019|Categories: Culture, Michael De Sapio, Music, Senior Contributors, War, World War II|

Arthur Honegger’s war symphonies, a synthesis of tradition and modernity, are powerful mementos of a heroic period. There was a sense that, with a moral menace to be defeated in World War II, digging into the depths of tradition was essential. As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of various milestones of World War II, it [...]

Going on Pilgrimage With Mark Twain: “The Innocents Abroad”

By |2019-08-23T22:12:18-06:00August 23rd, 2019|Categories: Books, Imagination, Literature, Mark Twain, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors|

Mark Twain is revered today for his liberal sympathies, as a satirist who punctured pomposity, hypocrisy, and pretension. But to dwell only on the “irreverent” aspects of his work is to see only a partial picture. His Christian background is evident throughout “The Innocents Abroad,” which reflects the journey of all human beings to [...]

Beauty Ever Ancient, Ever New: Restoring Beauty to a Parish Church

By |2019-08-10T22:35:32-06:00August 10th, 2019|Categories: Architecture, Art, Beauty, Christianity, Culture, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors|

A thought occurs to me as I contemplate the architectural updating of our parish church, which will paradoxically make our church appear older and timeless: Although God doesn’t need beautiful things, he is infinitely deserving of them, and we need to make them—for the good of our souls. My parish church is undergoing an [...]

The Boston Classicists: America’s Pioneering Composers

By |2019-11-19T13:06:27-06:00July 18th, 2019|Categories: Audio/Video, Culture, Michael De Sapio, Music, Senior Contributors|

Together, four men and one woman—the Boston Classicists—brought American music to a level of sophistication it had never had before. Not only did they become the most highly respected composers in America, but their music was also heard abroad to great applause. In her early years America had the reputation, at least among sophisticated [...]

The Importance of American Art

By |2019-07-09T16:45:20-06:00July 5th, 2019|Categories: Art, Beauty, Culture, History, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors|

The Patent Office now houses one of the most splendid collections of American painting and sculpture, housed in an impressive work of architecture. Our national character has never been solely about commerce and machinery; from the beginning we have made fine achievements in art and the imagination. “Among the Sierra Nevada, California,” by [...]

The Eucharist and the Imagination

By |2019-06-29T15:40:53-06:00June 29th, 2019|Categories: Catholicism, Christianity, Imagination, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors, Theology|

The Christian belief in the Eucharist stands as a universal expression of faith in a transcendent value that exists beyond human effort, to which we can nevertheless strive through faith. It would be hard to find anything in the history of civilization quite like this mystical belief that bound Christians together in communion for [...]

The Power of Francis Poulenc’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites”

By |2019-11-19T13:07:01-06:00June 14th, 2019|Categories: Culture, Michael De Sapio, Music, Opera, Senior Contributors|

Francis Poulenc’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites” is based on the true story of the Martyrs of Compiègne, a community of sixteen Carmelite nuns who were guillotined during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. Many hold it in high esteem as one of the twentieth century’s greatest operas. Francis Poulenc The Metropolitan Opera’s [...]

The Art of Tintoretto: Realism and Religion

By |2019-05-24T10:36:42-06:00May 24th, 2019|Categories: Art, Culture, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors|

Unlike modernists of more recent vintage, Venetian Renaissance master Tintoretto aimed at higher ideals than the projection of his ego. He ordered his talents to honoring the Classical and Christian civilization of which he was a part. Yet, where High Renaissance artists strove for classical serenity and poise, Tintoretto stupefied his contemporaries with grand displays of [...]