Classical Music & Composers: The Prophets of the Invisible

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Now, on to today’s reading, which is edited and adapted from The Rhythm of Life by Charles Brodie Patterson, published in 1915.

Our work tells the story of our inner life. If it is the work of a Michael Angelo, a Leonardo da Vinci, a Beethoven, or a Wagner, then such work must be a true expression of that person’s highest self. There is no way for you to attain lasting greatness save through the development of your own innate powers and possibilities.

All greatness comes from within, but in order to benefit humanity or the world, it must take form in the world, and the tree must become known by its fruit. It is expected of all that each shall live their own life, and live it to the full on every plane of being, from the material plane to the spiritual plane, so that each person will, eventually, contain within themselves the full record of all life, because they have lived to the full on every plane of being.

Rhythm and melody are both true expressions of our inner life, but they must become fully expressed in our outer life, so that there may be the perfect correspondence between inner and outer. The greatest composers will ever resort to the inner, but they will seldom if ever be unmindful of the outer form.

The vision is first, the form is last, and the composer who tries to reverse this order will never be able to produce great or soul-satisfying music; Mozart and Beethoven both employed a great variety of rhythm because they were true interpreters of what might be called the higher or celestial music. But no composer however great has ever been able to reach the limit of musical rhythm, because the rhythm of music comes to us from infinity itself. Therefore, it must have an infinity of variety.

Mozart and Beethoven were among the greatest masters of rhythm, and both introduced into their music much that was new in the way of rhythm. It is doubtful whether any poet ever lived who exceeded Tennyson in variety and beauty of rhythm, and yet the rhythm used by either Mozart or Beethoven far exceeded in number and variety that of Tennyson.

Poetry, while more nearly related to music than any other of the arts, is nevertheless greatly restricted in its expression, because the poet, in his or her effort to give expression, draws more from the external side of life; consequently the mind is used more than the soul.

There can be beautiful, descriptive poetry, such as is to be found in the poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Moore, or Lord Byron, where mentality alone is used almost entirely — we might call them word painters of nature. But music is in no way dependent upon the spoken word. Too often do the words associated with music serve only to detract from its value.

There is no doubt in the mind of the writer that the librettos for Mozart’s operas, and the verses used for other of his music, too often kept him from doing his best work. A composer cannot become very much inspired by the work of another which in every way falls so far short of their own. And it is to be observed that wherever the verse was of a high order, Mozart was always at his best.

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