Wednesday, August 5, 2009

An Art Which is A Part of Infinity Itself

Why We Sing, Part III
As a chorister and as one who writes about choral singing, I’m always interested in understanding more about our communal attraction to the choral arts and to music as a whole. Here’s an excerpt from a speech given by American composer Howard Hanson in 1936 at the Eastman School of Music, in which he articulates the place in our lives of music, which he so aptly calls “an art which is part of infinity itself.”
“Music has a strange physiological and psychological power. We rediscover music not only as a tremendous emotional force in the lives of men but as a sociological force in education. We realize that these simple vibrations which proceed from the elastic string of the violin are potent, potent both for good and ill. We ponder upon the intricacies of the human mind and the unfathomed depths of the human soul. We salute music not as an abstract art but as a great social force. We call upon ourselves to utilize this force for the benefit of mankind. We call upon the spirit of beauty to make clean our hearts that we may be fit servants of so great an art... a divinely great art. We study an art which is a part of infinity itself. It is tangible, it is intangible. It is science, it is art. It is emotion, it is intellect. It is a part of society, yet it carries us to heights where we exist for a moment in the fearful and awesome isolation of interplanetary space. It calls for our deepest emotional development, the greatest use of our intellectual powers and a supreme devotion to beauty–”


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