Heroic Poem

Heroic Poem July 4, 2017

And here’s another piece that I am sharing just because it is wonderful and not as widely known as it deserves to be: Joseph Jongen’s “Heroic Poem for Violin and Orchestra.” Of course, one could make the case that a “Heroic Poem” is particularly suitable for the 4th of July. But the truth is that I was planning on sharing it on the blog anyway.

Nevertheless, as I thought about it more, I added the following when I shared this post on Facebook:

For the 4th of July, here’s a musical “Heroic Poem” by Belgian composer Marie-Alphonse-Nicolas-Joseph Jongen. Among his life experiences was becoming a refugee from his homeland during WWI. Perhaps sharing this piece will help remind someone that when we talk about “refugees” we are talking about composers, painters, surgeons, teachers, and people who engage in any number of other professions, who are fleeing their homeland (usually due to war) and, if they find safety in ours, will emrich it immensely.

But it would be far better if you didn’t have to think about a refugee’s job, and what’s in it for you, to consider it worthwhile helping them…

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  • John MacDonald

    My Grandfather on my mother’s side made violins. His goal in life was to make one that sounded as good as a Stradivarius. He never did, but he felt he came close a couple of times and so put “Almost A Strad” on the inside of those. He was an immigrant from Poland and spoke no English when he came to Canada after the war. He applied to play in the Toronto Conservatory of Music, but was turned down because he had two young children and the committee felt he wouldn’t have the free time necessary to devote to music.

    • Wow – thanks for sharing this story!

      • John MacDonald

        It’s a sad story. My Grandfather never got to realize his artistic dream of getting into the Conservatory, and ended up resenting his family because of it. Everyday life can be intolerable to some artistic types.

        • John MacDonald

          It’s interesting philosophically, though. Heidegger, for instance, invokes the fundamental distinction between Dasein (being-there), and Nicht-Da-Sein (not-being-there), the latter being understood in the sense of being away, such as when your mind wanders in the middle of a conversation and you are no longer present.

          Aristotle asks why artistic/philosophical types are such melancholics? The answer seems to be that they are not “caught up” in the day to day goings-on of everyday life. This can be a source of boredom and depression, but also “perspective” to be able to see life “as such,” the distance necessary to “see the forest for the trees” and have penetrating insight into life.

          Emily Brontë comes to mind as an artistic type who had penetrating insight into life because of her distance from life. Regarding Emily, her sister Charlotte wrote:

          “My sister’s disposition was not naturally gregarious; circumstances favoured and fostered her tendency to seclusion; except to go to church or take a walk on the hills, she rarely crossed the threshold of home. Though her feeling for the people round was benevolent, intercourse with them she never sought; nor, with very few exceptions, ever experienced. And yet she knew them: knew their ways, their language, their family histories; she could hear of them with interest, and talk of them with detail, minute, graphic, and accurate; but WITH them, she rarely exchanged a word.” (Charlotte Brontë, preface to the second edition of Wuthering Heights).