In our chaotic and confused world, I have found one of the greatest refuges from the storms of life to be Classical music. Over the last two decades, Classical music has become a sanctuary for me because it represents order, beauty, and peace. When I have challenges or difficulties, perhaps like you, I often turn to music to bring harmony of mind, body, and spirit to me. It has been said that just listening to Classical music increases our IQ!
This past week was a rendezvous with piano and musical greatness! Hyperion Knight delighted the scholars at John Adams Academy Roseville, Lincoln, and El Dorado Hills with piano concerts. In Greek mythology, Hyperion’s name is from the Greek, meaning “he who goes before.” He was one of the twelve Titan children of Gaia (the Earth) and Uranus (the Sky). It is a rare opportunity to be able to sit at the feet of a piano virtuoso.
Here is how the Webster and Oxford dictionaries describe such:
“A virtuoso is an individual skilled in the fine arts, particularly in music….”
“A virtuoso is of the first order: genius, expert, master, master hand, artist, maestro, prodigy, marvel, adept, past master, specialist, skilled person, professional, doyen, authority, veteran; star, champion…”
Hyperion is not only a talented musician but also a gifted teacher.
In several assemblies Hyperion was able to show our scholars the progression of Classical music and relate it to our history and our nation’s founding. Many of the youth remarked, “This was the best assembly we have ever had!”
The teachers and youth were enthralled by the Classical music he played. He opened with a bit of American ragtime music. Then he began to teach them where it came from.
Four Classical Music Eras Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern
Note: The Classical periods below and accompanying photos are the creations and credits of Hyperion Knight used in recent assemblies at the John Adams Academies.
The Renaissance helped to liberate the mind and soul of man by creating music with deep religious emotion based on new mathematical understanding of notes that soon turned into keys on a keyboard. The connection among math, religion and music had taken over a millennium to discover. Baroque Era includes “ornate detail” cathedrals in sound. He then played “Jesu Joy of Mans Desiring” by Bach that is music to glorify God, followed by a “Little Fugue in G Minor” contrapuntal with “many voices.”
Things began to change in the 18th century. Symmetry and balance of Classical Greek architecture were greatly admired and emulated. In 1732 two great men were born: George Washington and Joseph Hayden, the father of our country and the father of classical music. Classical music was a balance of a type or shadow of perfect balance, symmetry and harmony that was metaphorical and went along with America’s founders finding the most balanced form of government. The Constitution reflected that perfect classical era of accord and synchronization of thought. He then played Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca A Rondo which has A/B/A symmetry that demonstrates this balance.
Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata transitioned us to Romanticism.
Romanticism was the embodiment of the United States Constitution that lacked something to make it acceptable and complete. It lacked “A Bill of Rights.” This gave voice to the individual and was a reminder that individual rights and expression provide the opportunity to find individualism within the confines of classical balance. It is the expression of individual excellence in music and art. The Romantic Era is marked by individualism instead of society, emotional excess, and in the works of Chopin – Revolutionary Etude – as individuals revolted against monarchies.
Tchaikovsky – Nutcracker Ballet – introduces the Russian Dance.
He then wowed all with The Flight of the Bumble Bee.
Debussy, Ravel, Gershwin, Copland, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Mahler
In 1914 war broke out. European music and culture shattered these eras of music. Streams of European immigrants came flooding in. He then played a Chopin piece called Polonaise followed by Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.
Liberated by coming to a free country, the likes of Gershwin and Irving Berlin wrote new music to blend the old and new worlds with the sights, sounds and freedom of this new world, thus giving birth to an American songbook with ragtime and jazz. Hyperion played Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag and a transition to jazz rhythms and Broadway melodies. Hyperion then ended with Rhapsody in Blue as the crescendo. What a beautiful week and extraordinary evening.
“Through beauty we shape the world as a home. In doing so we both amplify our joys and find consolation for our sorrows. Art and music shine a light of meaning on an ordinary life. Through them we can confront the things that trouble us and find peace and consolation in their presence.”
As you begin this year, I invite you to explore and resolve adding the joy and peace of classical music to your quiet hours of reflection, commuting, or walking.