Jeff Smith noon, March 8
Places to Play and Pray
For the last few weeks, every morning I've had a full chorus of chirpy birds singing to their hearts' content outside my window.
It's a wonderful sound and is an indication that spring is here--whatever that means to a San Diegan.
Beethoven was fascinated with bird song and in the opening of his 6th Symphony, he uses various instruments to mimic them.
The first section is titled, "Awakening of happy feelings upon arriving in the country."
If we listen carefully, we can hear little birds chirping their way across the orchestra.
This is music that goes beyond "happy feelings" and arrives at the doorstep of joy.
This is the core of romanticism--finding joy in nature. It might even be safe to say that Beethoven's 6th itself is the core of romanticism.
To my mind, romanticism is all about exploring the role of humanity in nature. Beyond that, it is finding healing, solace, and inspiration in nature.
Until we turn off the TV and step out into nature and feel the grass between our toes, the full joy of Beethoven will elude us.
No one can say it better than John Muir, "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul."
Beethoven and Mr. Muir could not agree more. One gave us his 6th Symphony, the other gave us Yosemite.