Why Is Beethoven So Popular?

By |2020-06-23T14:07:30-05:00June 22nd, 2020|Categories: Beethoven 250, Ludwig van Beethoven, Michael De Sapio, Music|

It is Beethoven—not Bach or Mozart—who is the most universally popular composer in the classical canon. Why is this? Some authors have posited his democratic social beliefs or his personal story of victory over deafness. These are all certainly factors, but I prefer to look first at the aesthetic qualities of the music itself. Johann [...]

How Should Christians Approach Beauty?

By |2020-06-06T19:40:13-05:00June 6th, 2020|Categories: Art, Beauty, Books, Christianity, Culture, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors|

Although the beauty of visible and audible things presupposes the use of the senses, beauty’s essence is not sensual but spiritual. It does not distract us from God; on the contrary, it elevates our minds to God. Beauty in the Light of the Redemption, by Dietrich von Hildebrand (92 pages, Hildebrand Project, 2019) The [...]

The Mighty Nine: Reflections on Beethoven’s Symphonies

By |2020-07-05T18:42:48-05:00May 25th, 2020|Categories: Andrew Balio, Beethoven 250, Joseph Pearce, Ludwig van Beethoven, Mark Malvasi, Michael De Sapio, Music, Stephen M. Klugewicz|Tags: , , , |

Please enjoy this symposium on the nine symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven, with contributions from our distinguished panel, including composer Michael Kurek and Principal Trumpet of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Balio. Clicking on the CD cover art next to each symphony will guide you to a listening recommendation on Spotify; at the bottom of [...]

Charm and the Civilized Life

By |2020-05-18T18:30:26-05:00May 18th, 2020|Categories: Books, Character, Culture, Michael De Sapio, Modernity, Senior Contributors, Virtue|

In his latest book, Joseph Epstein takes on the elusive topic of charm, which consists of being pleasing to others and making the world seem a better place. Charm radiates light, order, and good humor; it is cool and calm, not hot and excited. Perhaps, like beauty, charm is one of the blessedly “useless” [...]

Reminiscences of the Dutch Liberation: May 5, 1945

By |2020-05-04T17:36:11-05:00May 4th, 2020|Categories: Christianity, Culture, Europe, History, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors, War, World War II|

It is now 75 years since the Allies freed the Netherlands from the clutches of the Nazis, yet my neighbor Christina (“Stien”) van Egmond remembers the events with amazing clarity. Ms. Stien was 16 at the time and, having graduated from high school several months previously, was working in her father’s greengrocery in Diemen, [...]

Revitalizing Beethoven’s Music: The Legacy of Nikolaus Harnoncourt

By |2020-04-24T11:48:55-05:00April 20th, 2020|Categories: Beethoven 250, Ludwig van Beethoven, Michael De Sapio, Music|

For conductor and musicologist  Nikolaus Harnoncourt, expressive meaning was central to music. Music can cry out in pain or anger, it can soothe, it can exult in joy. Harnoncourt sought to restore these many meanings to music and, for this reason, insisted on drama and urgency in his performances. In particular his Beethoven recordings possess [...]

“Hail, Festive Day”: A Hymn to Easter

By |2020-04-11T00:52:40-05:00April 11th, 2020|Categories: Christianity, Easter, Imagination, Michael De Sapio, Music, Senior Contributors|

Hymns are a major source of our imaginative conception of the Christian faith. A good hymn focuses our mind on a memorable cluster of images that illuminate doctrine, preparing us to celebrate the liturgy or providing a respite during it. While the great hymn writers have often taken scripture as their starting point, they have [...]

“Christ on the Mount of Olives”: Beethoven’s Passion Oratorio

By |2020-04-09T02:08:16-05:00March 25th, 2020|Categories: Beethoven 250, Easter, Ludwig van Beethoven, Michael De Sapio, Music|

While many artists and composers have depicted the Passion of Christ, Beethoven carried an especially weighty cross in the form of his privation of hearing, which isolated him from society and forced him to compose music from his “inner ear.” Like Christ in the Garden, he found himself alone and forsaken, wrestling with a tribulation [...]

The Music of Harold Shapero: Tradition and Innovation

By |2020-03-12T15:56:41-05:00March 13th, 2020|Categories: Audio/Video, Culture, Michael De Sapio, Modernity, Music, Senior Contributors|

We owe it to ourselves to get to know Harold Shapero, who showed that strikingly inventive things still could be done with the perennial tools of tonal music. His works crackle with intelligence and sing with rare melodic beauty. They are both timeless and of their time. For despite its classic foundations, Shapero’s music [...]

Beethoven’s Apollonian Beauty

By |2020-03-24T00:55:46-05:00February 24th, 2020|Categories: Audio/Video, Beethoven 250, Ludwig van Beethoven, Michael De Sapio, Music, Senior Contributors|

Apollo and Dionysus coexist throughout Beethoven’s work. Much musical commentary seems to imply that only a titanic wrestle with Fate or an emotional cataclysm qualifies as profound. Laying aside for a moment Beethoven the Myth and listening attentively to his works, we are reminded of the depth of emotion that resides in solidity and perfection [...]

Maurice Denis: Keeping the Flame of Artistic Tradition

By |2020-02-20T13:29:28-06:00February 20th, 2020|Categories: Art, Christian Humanism, Culture, History, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors|

Maurice Denis reengaged with myth, symbol, and the human figure at a time when Impressionists had narrowed their focus to mundane subject matter. He showed that there could be an art that incorporated the best insights of abstraction, and the psychological focus of expressionism, but remained wedded to the canons of beauty, harmony, and [...]

Of What Value Is a Dead Language?

By |2020-01-09T14:58:16-06:00January 8th, 2020|Categories: Books, Culture, Education, Michael De Sapio, Senior Contributors, Western Civilization, Western Tradition|

The prestige of studying classical languages like Latin and Greek is greatly eroded today. This is no mystery; but how did we get to this point? Linguist Nicholas Ostler, in his book Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin, chronicles how Latin remained the one constant during the growth of Western culture. The claims he [...]

Hector Berlioz and the Art of Musical Storytelling

By |2019-12-30T22:23:42-06:00December 30th, 2019|Categories: Hector Berlioz, Hector Berlioz Sesquicentennial Series, Michael De Sapio, Music|

Music with extra-musical subtexts has existed for a long time, but it was the Romantics who first combined story and music in a close synthesis. Their pioneer was Hector Berlioz, who dove into the art of musical storytelling with a daring never before seen, yet with an artistic integrity rarely achieved since. Berlioz first saw [...]

“Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day”: A Christmas Carol for All Seasons

By |2019-12-25T02:32:05-06:00December 24th, 2019|Categories: Audio/Video, Christmas, Culture, Michael De Sapio, Music, Senior Contributors|

“Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day” hearkens back to an era when theological ideas were part of everyone’s mental awareness, ripe for poetry and song. Though the idea of Christ and humanity being united as bridegroom and bride is a classic Christian motif, we are surprised to find it in a popular Christmas carol, [...]