Unconscious bursts of creativity that engender significant artistic endeavors are not necessarily inspired by passionate romantic love alone. Greek mythology believed that this kind of stimulus came from nine muses, the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. Muses were long considered the source of knowledge embodied in poetry, lyric songs and ancient myths. Throughout the history of Western art, artists, writers and musicians have prayed to the muses, or alternately, drawn inspiration from personified muses that conceptually reside beyond the borders of earthly love. True to life, however, composer inspiration has emerged from the entire spectrums of existence and being. Nature has always played a decidedly important role in the inspiration of various classical composers, as did exotic cities, landscapes or rituals. Composer inspiration is also found in poetry, the visual arts, and mythological stories and tales. Artistic, historical or cultural expressions of the past are just as inspirational as is the everyday: the third Punic War or the contrapuntal mastery of Bach is inspirationally just as relevant as are the virulent bat and camel. Composer inspiration is delightfully drawn from heroes and villains, scientific advances, a pet, or something as mundane as a hangover. Discover what fires the imagination of people who never stop asking questions.
Arnold Bax (1886–1953) was born in south London and raised in north London, but in his early years sought to develop a link with Ireland. In 1902, after discovering the writing of Irish writer W.B. Yeats, Arnold and his brother
Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 novel The Secret Garden is a story of redemption. An unloved and sickly child is left orphaned in British India and is adopted by her uncle in England. Out on the Yorkshire moors, Mary learns to
After winning the prestigious Prix de Rome, the young Charles Gounod (1818-1893) arrived in the Eternal City of Rome in 1840. After experiencing a spell of melancholy and homesickness, which he described “this kind of shroud in which I was
Anatoly Lyadov (1855–1914) was condemned with faint praise: ‘Most recollections of this kind, likeable man suggest that he could have achieved so much more if he had not been so idle.’ A case in point was his commission from Diaghilev.
For many, the chrysanthemum is the symbol of Asia. The flower originated in East Asia, and China is the place where it developed its earliest characteristics. It was first cultivated in China as early as the 15th century BCE, and
As a student of Carl Nielsen, Poul Schierbeck (1888-1949) made important contributions to the literature of Danish songs. Initially, like so many of his contemporaries Schierbeck had engaged in law studies, but the lure of music prompted him to study
Mermaids are women of the sea: half female with a scaled fishy tail. Sirens, in a word, are evil mermaids. Mermaids want good and sirens want evil. Now how have composers dealt with them? Kit Turnbull: 3 Cautionary Tales British
The pianist Ignacy Paderewski (1860-1941) was a favorite with concert audiences but not universally beloved by music critics. In the event, Paderewski was much more than just a rich, irresistibly handsome, wild-haired composer and musician whose concerts generated a level