Is history repeating itself and will we, for once, learn from history? In 1792, flames of the revolution lit in Paris had engulfed France. Revolutionary fervour and the fury of the people against the ruling caste reached a crescendo. Foreign forces (gimmigrants) were looming over the borders, threatening to quash those defiant voices. It was at such a time, on a night of gathering storm, that an ordinary soldier penned a song that became the greatest inspiring force of the people’s revolt against a tyrannical government. This is the story of that stirring song, La Marseillaise.
Austria’s “Stille Nacht”
The world’s most famous Christmas song, “Silent Night,” comes to us from Austria (Österreich in German). Called “Stille Nacht” in its original German, this beautiful Christmas carol is now sung and enjoyed around the world in over 140 languages.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German composer and pianist, who is arguably the defining figure in the history of Western music. Born in December 1770, he was baptized on the 17th. As baptisms customarily took place the day following birth consensus is that the world’s greatest composer was born December 16, 1770. The earliest recorded piece that Beethoven composed is a set of nine piano variations, composed in 1782.
Elton John spoke for many people when he said: ‘I regard all pop music as irrelevant in the sense that people in 200 years won‘t be listening to what is being written and played today. I think they will be listening to Beethoven.’
I have nothing against the Welsh. After all, as man and boy, I was blissfully happy in this beautiful land of someone else’s father. But not everyone agrees. Their most famous lyricist, Dylan Thomas once said, ‘Land of my Fathers? They are welcome to it.’
The British chart-topping 1960s folk singer Donovan was the only pop star poet to receive France’s most prestigious cultural award awarded to him personally by the French Government. The hippy era singer of poetic-style ballads once won the heart of nations and clearly won French hearts too.
European culture offers a feast of quality music that accompanies the more discerning on a journey from womb to tomb. Perhaps these suggestions will inspire you to explore and enjoy the finest music created by Europe’s most gifted musicians over centuries. Do feel free to YouTube or purchase any of the following titles that will familiarise you with music that will continue to enhance your life. Think of each track as a glass of sublime aphrodisiacal wine. I think you will return again and again.
Throughout Europe there is rising ethnic-identity awareness, a cultural revolution that rejects the multi-cultural sub-culture not of Europe’s own. Renewed enthusiasm for national identity expressed through music perhaps lies behind the recent craze for Portugal’s Queen of Fado, Amalia Rodrigues (1920 ~ 1999). The blues singer‘s fame once eclipsed that of the iconic French soul-singing waif Edith Piaf and that of Nana Mouskouri of Greece.
Fabulous Neuschwanstein: How the King of Bavaria dedicated the castle to Wagner and inspired Disney.
We are accustomed to believe that kings erected fabulous castles for their lovers, favourites or wives. However, Neuschwanstein Castle, perhaps the most famous castle in Germany, featured on the screensaver of Disney cartoons, was dedicated by the last Bavarian King Ludwig to the great composer Richard Wagner.
Many great Europeans truly believed that their pens, as they composed, were guided by a divine spirit. Great musicians were quite clear in their belief that their works were the creation of a divine force, which we place under the blanket term, God.