Epicurean Music- Classical

  • Please add suggestions for Epicurean-friendly “Classical” music in this thread.

  • Suggested by Oscar - Krystian Zimerman - Chopin - Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23


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  • Yes, the music ha words. And we in Senigallia are planning to play a part of them this august. I'll let you know.
    And, yes, we'll record it. :-)

  • Excellent! Michele do the words touch on the philosophical details or are they sort of general "odes to joy"?


    Are the words for both works available somewhere that we can take a look at?

  • I see I have failed to add to this thread my collection of excerpts of the particularly relevant sections of Wagner's Tannhauser. If you're not familiar with it, there's a lot more going on than this, but the main story line is about a character who falls in with Venus/Pleasure and struggles with whether to stay with her or abandon her for virtue. The story features a "singing contest" in which the issues of pleasure vs virtue are debated. The words of the dialogues are in my view surprisingly pro-Venus/Pleasure.


    I have two clips - this first one is a "best of Defense of Pleasure" which focuses on the key defense of Venus /Pleasure arguments (and more up-tempo music):


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    And in enjoyment alone do I recognize love!

    This second is significantly longer and contains most of the dialogue that sets up the background issues of the conflict with Pleasure/Venus:

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  • Excellent! Michele do the words touch on the philosophical details or are they sort of general "odes to joy"?


    Are the words for both works available somewhere that we can take a look at?

    We are still looking for them. I'll let you know.

  • I would like to share a piece of art that I would in a sense consider 'Epicurean', but likely 'humanist' more than anything. I wish that there was more music, art, and poetry that we could claim to be inspired by or at least reflective of our school. (I feel that religion should not be the sole claimant to beautiful paintings, architecture, music, etc.)


    What follows was originally a poem, written in Spanish by Octavio Paz, then set to music by the choral composer Eric Whitacre.


    The lyrics are a meditation on the briefness of life and the fleetingness of human love (Ερως/Eros), and the ecstasy of pleasure when finding it anew, as shown through the lives of two lovers, depicted as strewn out on a grassy meadow, then later on a sandy shore, and lastly underneath the ground, feeding each other fruits and exchanging kisses (Ήδονή/Hedone), like waves and clouds exchange droplets of mist, before their time is over (Θάνατος/Thanatos), when they must sleep forever in silence (Ύπνος/Hypnos).


    The author is rumored to have been inspired upon sight of the figures of two youths (which are now thought to have been gay lovers), interlocked in an eternal embrace, preserved in the destruction of Pompeii, though I cannot remember where I heard this nor can I verify the claim.


    Here is a nice description of the message of the lyrics:

    https://gewchorale.org/directo…itacre-s-a-boy-and-a-girl


    Eric Whitacre's haunting choral setting:

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    The original lyrics in Spanish:


    "[Los Novios]


    Tendidos en la yerba

    una muchacha y un muchacho.

    Comen naranjas, cambian besos

    como las olas cambian sus espumas.


    Tendido en la playa

    una muchacha y un muchacho.

    Comen limones, cambian besos

    como las nubes cambian espumas.


    Tendidos bajo tierra

    una muchacha y un muchacho.

    No dicen nada, no se besan,

    cambian silencio por silencio."


    The English translation:


    "[A Boy and a Girl]


    Stretched out on the grass,

    a boy and a girl.

    Savoring their oranges,

    giving their kisses like waves exchanging foam.


    Stretched out on the beach,

    a boy and a girl.

    Savoring their limes,

    giving their kisses like clouds exchanging foam.


    Stretched out underground,

    a boy and a girl.

    Saying nothing, never kissing,

    giving silence for silence."

  • I'd like to share another piece of what I consider to be Epicurean art. It is a secular English Renaissance madrigal by Orlando Gibbons entitled 'The Silver Swan', composed 1612.


    It is a rapturous musical meditation on the brevity of existence, on the cessation of all physical experience at the point of death, and, by metaphor, on the fleetingness of wisdom, as embodied by the image of a dying 'silver' swan.


    The swan may be another important symbolic animal for Epicureans, as both Zeus and Aphrodite (patron god and goddess of the Garden?) are associated with them. In iconography, Aphrodite Urania is often depicted on a swan, and in myth Zeus takes the form of a swan to seduce Leda, the mother of Helen of Troy.


    The anonymous lyrics:

    "The silver Swan, who, living, had no Note,

    when Death approached, unlocked her silent throat.

    Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,

    thus sang her first and last, and sang no more:

    "Farewell, all joys! O Death, come close mine eyes!

    More Geese than Swans now live, more Fools than Wise." "


    There are many great recordings, but my favorite is from The Cambridge Singers:


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  • The lyrics are a meditation on the briefness of life and the fleetingness of human love (Ερως/Eros), and the ecstasy of pleasure when finding it anew, as shown through the lives of two lovers, depicted as strewn out on a grassy meadow, then later on a sandy shore, and lastly underneath the ground, feeding each other fruits and exchanging kisses (Ήδονή/Hedone), like waves and clouds exchange droplets of mist, before their time is over (Θάνατος/Thanatos), when they must sleep forever in silence (Ύπνος/Hypnos).

    Well at least as to that part that sure sounds Epicurean to me! Very beautiful. thanks.

  • From Carmina Burana 211 (11th - 13th century)

    Alte clamat Epicurus, or "From on High, States Epicurus"


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    "From on high states Epicurus:


    A stuffed belly reassures us.

    As my God I will revere it

    Such a God requires gluttony

    Whose temple is the kitchen

    Where the odors are bewitchin'

    His convenience everlasting

    Since he never calls for fasting.

    Breakfast tastes a whole lot better

    Belching, intoxicated together.

    Empty flasks beneath the table

    We're happy and grateful.



    Filled to burst his skin, he wobbles

    like a wine skin or bottle;

    Breakfast, supper, lunch united,

    Fat, red cheeks are so excited;

    When his swollen dick gets bigger,

    Like a chain it's filled with vigor.



    Like religion, pale and useless,

    Roars into the whirlwind, fruitless,


    Roars the stomach in its battle:


    Wine and mead together rattle;


    Happy and life is easy

    With a busy belly

    Says the belly "I care for nothing

    Except myself. After procuring

    peace in itself

    I gently carry myself

    Over water and meat

    I sleep and retreat."

    ---

    Original Text

    https://www.flashlyrics.com/ly…n/alte-clamat-epicurus-91

    Where I got some of the english text aside from my own translations

    http://stcpress.org/pieces/alte_clamat_epicurus



    “If the joys found in nature are crimes, then man’s pleasure and happiness is to be criminal.”

  • To be frank, yes there isn't a lot of flattery. The entire manuscript the poems come from is very raunchy and satirical, this section on Epicurus is surprisingly vulgar for its time, and CB 211 (Alte Clamat Epicurus) is often contrasted with 211a (Palästinalied, or Palestine Song), which details a pilgrim stepping foot in the holy land, alluding to the crusades.

    But in a way, such a bawdy and low brow depiction portrayed in a positive manner, can be considered, at least by me, flattering.

    Still, such an old historical reference, especially when originally made into a song, is worthy of notice.

    “If the joys found in nature are crimes, then man’s pleasure and happiness is to be criminal.”

  • Thanks for posting that Charles. I agree that sometimes we can conclude that people include material about Epicurus that is superficially flattering just to get past the "censors" to talk about him in the first place. However I have no idea whether to consider this work to be ultimately sincerely anti-Epicurean and pro-religion, or "on the sly." Do you have a feel for that? Regardless, this is good information.

  • I don't think there's any definitive proof about it's intention. However, I think that it is extremely subtle enough to the point that you could arrive at any conclusion.

    “If the joys found in nature are crimes, then man’s pleasure and happiness is to be criminal.”