Serenade to Music

by CynthiaYockey on December 10, 2009

Gentle readers, you’re the best! I am grateful to you with all my heart for your loving and compassionate condolences. Thank you!

This post is my way of easing back into the saddle.

“Serenade to Music” by Ralph Vaughn Williams is one of my top five favorite musical compositions. I first heard it in 1970 or ’71 when I played bassoon with Maryland Symphonette, a group of adult musicians from the Baltimore area, conducted by Angelo Gatto. We rehearsed and performed at Morgan State College (now Morgan State University).

Mr. Gatto also conducted a regional group for talented high school musicians, to which I also belonged. I think we were called the Maryland Youth Symphony — that group rehearsed at St. Ignatius Church on St. Paul Street in Baltimore, near the Washington Monument and Peabody Conservatory. With that group I played two other compositions that are among my favorites: “Capriccio Espagnol” by Rimsky-Korsakov and “Symphony Espagnole” by Lalo.

Anyway, back to “Serenade to Music” — first, there is something about music from the 1930’s: haunting, poignant harmonies like no other era, which touch me deeply. Stirring, exalting, celestial — these are some of the words that describe this music for me.

The lyrics are taken from “The Merchant of Venice” by William Shakespeare:

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here we will sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold:
There’s not the smallest orb that thou behold’st
But in his motion like an angel sings
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
Come, ho, and wake Diana with a hymn:
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress’ ear,
And draw her home with music.
I am never merry when I hear sweet music.
The reason is, your spirits are attentive:
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted.
Music! Hark!
It is the music of the house.
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.
Silence bestows that virtue on it.
How many things by season season’d are
To their right praise and true perfection!
Peace, ho! The moon sleeps with Endymion,
And would not be awak’d.
Soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here we will sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Look how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold:
There’s not the smallest orb that thou behold’st
But in his motion like an angel sings
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins;
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.
Come, ho, and wake Diana with a hymn:
With sweetest touches pierce your mistress’ ear,
And draw her home with music.
I am never merry when I hear sweet music.
The reason is, your spirits are attentive:
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted.
Music! Hark!
It is the music of the house.
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.
Silence bestows that virtue on it.
How many things by season season’d are
To their right praise and true perfection!
Peace, ho! The moon sleeps with Endymion,
And would not be awak’d.
Soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.

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  • Dear Cynthia, maybe you are not in the mood, for which I apologize, but I have to tell you I was thinking… ever wondered how David Lettermann virtually got a free pass and Tiger Woods is being practically given to the vivisection? They both cheated on their spouses, but the treatment received by each one in the middle of their scandals differs greatly. I don’t buy it is because Woods was more of a role model than Lettermann, it must be something else…

    • Dr. sipmac,

      I haven’t been paying much attention to the Tiger Woods scandal, but now that you mention it, Letterman was treated much better than Woods. Hmmmm. Well, first, Letterman has never set himself up as a positive role model, but Tiger Woods did and made tons of money from his clean-cut image. So, the contrast between Woods’ image and the reality is gripping stuff, whether you are wagging your finger and calling “Shame!” OR laughing so hard you wet your pants — I lean to the latter. Second, Letterman’s success supports the success of CBS, so I’m sure they did everything in their power to kill the story and discredit the people he wronged — especially since CBS tolerated his predatory behavior in the workplace and therefore could get sued. Third, Woods favors blonde white women and at last count 12 of them have emerged from the woodwork to cash in their 15 minutes of fame — what news show can resist showing newsworthy bimbo photos?

      But mostly the difference is that Letterman was trying to destroy Gov. Palin through her children and the entire Left wing of this country, to their eternal disgace, approved. How delicious that she is now a multi-millionaire and pwning Obama, Pelosi and Reid from her Facebook page.

      Also dee-lish: last I heard, Letterman’s wife, Regina, has thrown him out of the mansion and is suing for divorce. (Hee-hee-hee-hee-hee!) We don’t have to lift a finger to get Letterman fired when he is self-destructing on his own, even though the process is taking awhile.

      Cynthia

  • May I use both messages in my blog? It would be a great honor to have you as a special guest on sipmacrants!
    .-= Dr. sipmac´s last blog ..Los valores de las telenovelas acechando en el mundo real 2: Libretos arrancados de la vida real =-.

    • Dr. sipmac,

      Do you mean both the YouTube videos? Of course. By the way, there are two because of the 10 minute limit for YouTube videos and “Serenade to Music” is about 14 minutes long.

      If you want to quote something from here, the standard protocol is to indent the quoted material and link to the source blog. Thank you for wanting me to be a guest.

      Cynthia

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