Dante’s 750th

October 2, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, DANTE |
Elder3

(Elder Hall, Adelaide University, 30/9/15) The Dante Society of SA gave a most agreeable concert to mark the 750th birthday of the Great Florentine, Dante Alighieri (1265-1321).  Professor Diana Glenn gave two readings from The Divine Comedy – first from Paradiso, Canto XXIII, where Beatrice and Dante gaze up at the infinite sunbeams of redeemed souls, and Dante swoons (as he was wont to do). Then Mekhla Kumar (above) performed Liszt’s Sposalizio, inspired by Raphael’s The Marriage of the Virgin. Konstantin Shamray (below) played Liszt’s Dante Sonata with its slightly cartoonish swerve between the hell and heaven, with its different (hellish and celestial) keys…

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Requiem

August 18, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, DANTE |
Verdi3

SA Dante Society, 17 August 2015 At the Italian Centre on Monday evening the Society was treated to an early taste of Verdi’s tempestuous, mighty and dramatic requiem mass.  This will be performed with full chorus and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra on 26 and 28 August, as conducted by Timothy Sexton. Maestro Dr Joseph Talia OAM gave a lucid and learned backgrounder, virtually extemporaneously, as to the sources, anxieties and influences on Verdi in the creation of this unique liturgical music, operatic in style and inspired by the life and death of Alessandro Manzoni, whom he revered.  Verdi grappled with the…

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Dante and His World

June 5, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | DANTE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |
"Men go to preach, and if they get a laugh their cowls puff up with pride. They ask no more." (Image Giotto, photo Wolfgang Sauber)

"Men go to preach, and if they get a laugh their cowls puff up with pride. They ask no more." (Image Giotto, photo Wolfgang Sauber)

(Thomas Caldecot Chubb) You might call this an inspired remaking of Dante’s life and thought through his art, with the eye of a poet and scholar, on intimate terms with Aretino, Boccaccio, Dante.  Speculation, necessarily, as much as history but highly informed.  We love the cover that tells us not only is Mr Chubb a graduate of Yale, but he “commutes between his home in Greenwich, Connecticut, and his plantation in southern Georgia.”

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Glory

May 15, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | DANTE |
"lo gran disio dell' eccellenza" (the great desire of excelling) (Painting by Luca Signorelli)

"lo gran disio dell' eccellenza" (the great desire of excelling) (Painting by Luca Signorelli)

In his book The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, Jacob Burckhardt wrote as follows: “As publicist and man of letters, [Dante] laid stress on the fact that what he did was new, and that he wished not only to be, but to be esteemed the first in his own walks.  But even in his prose writings he touches on the inconveniences of fame; he knows how often personal acquaintance with famous men is disappointing, and explains how this is due partly to the childish fancy of men, partly to envy, and partly to the imperfections of the hero himself.*…

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Divina Commedia

March 29, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Books, DANTE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |
See for yourself, or read the Book (painting by Domenico di Michelino, 1465)

See for yourself, or read the Book (painting by Domenico di Michelino, 1465)

(by Dante Alighieri 1/6/1265 – 14/9/1321) (completed 1320)

[Note: extracts are from, and reference is to, the John Ciardi translation]

The greatest epic poem of all time (and we can say this with confidence, despite the dodgy standard of TVC’s latin).

It has a brilliantly (classically) simple structure – Recounting, in terza rima, how Dante spends the 1300 Easter vacation on a salvational tour of the worlds of our minds (and souls), guided through Hell and Purgatory by his poetic mentor, Virgil and accompanied by his poster-girl, Beatrice, in Paradise. There they meet Dante’s fiamma benedetta a flame of heavenly wisdom, S. Thomas Aquinas. S. Thomas was a formidable thinker but no great writer. Dante, taking hold of the 13th C theologian, supplied the art. “it is the flame, eternally elated, of Siger, who along the Street of Straws syllogized truths for which he would be hated.” (Pa. X) But he did something more: he created a new universe. And it was a universe that left Aquinas and Augustine, the best of the ancient Christians, pounding in the wake of something strange and monolithically modern. As Harold Bloom said with his usual wisdom in The Western Canon, “The Comedy…destroys the distinction between sacred and secular writing.”

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