Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Who will compose music for Covid-19?

Mussorgsky, Mahler, Liszt, Shostakovich, Saint-Saëns did it for Black Death

From Death Dance by Bernt Notke, end of 15th century (Art Museum of Estonia)
From Death Dance by Bernt Notke, end of 15th century (Art Museum of Estonia)

There’s Covid-19 and then there’s the Black Death. The height of the Black Death was between the years of 1347-1351. Estimates for the number of deaths in, during the Black Death, range to 200 million.

A culture of death was established as a result of the Black Death. The Danse Macabre was a visual representation of the immediacy of death. In the murals, death danced with the Pope, kings, merchants, knights, maidens, lords, serfs, children, and clerics. No one was spared, death functioned as the great equalizer. It still does.

Video:

The Fieldmarshal

From Songs and Dances of Death by Modest Mussorgsky.

From Songs and Dances of Death by Modest Mussorgsky.

There have been several musical settings of the Danse Macabre; the version by Camille Saint-Saëns is the most famous. Other composers such as Gustav Mahler, Franz Liszt, and Dimitri Shostakovich have created music based on the grim reaper.

My favorite setting is Songs and Dances of Death by Modest Mussorgsky. In keeping with the tradition, Mussorgsky sprinkles death across a variety of demographics.

The first song, Lullaby brings us the death of an infant. Death addresses the mother,

  • “...You've failed to pacify the child.
  • I'll sing sweeter than you..."

Following Lullaby is Serenade. A sick maiden lies awake thinking of life’s pleasures while death sings to her.

  • “Meanwhile under the window in the midnight silence
  • Death sings a serenade:
  • "In the gloom of captivity, severe and stifling,
  • Your youth is fading away;
  • A mysterious knight, with magic powers
  • I'll free you up.”

The third song follows a drunken peasant into the woods where he freezes to death, and then we come to the fourth song which is called The Fieldmarshal. Here, death is portrayed as a general presiding over a vast battlefield of the dead illuminated by moonlight. Death explains,

  • “The battle is finished! I won over everyone!
  • You all submitted before me, soldiers!
  • Life has made you quarrel, I have reconciled you!
  • Stand up as one for the parade, corpses!
  • Pass in front of me in a pompous march,
  • I want to count my troops...”
Video:

A Dirge for Two Veterans

Ralph Vaughan Williams has set Whitman’s verse to music.

Ralph Vaughan Williams has set Whitman’s verse to music.

All four deaths were common not only in 19th Century Russia but in every country, including the United States. We can look to Walt Whitman’s A Dirge for Two Veterans for an American verse similar to the moon-lit procession of Mussorgsky’s Fieldmarshal.

  • “THE last sunbeam
  • Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,
  • On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking,
  • Down a new-made double grave.
  • LO, the moon ascending,
  • Up from the east the silvery round moon,
  • Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
  • Immense and silent moon...
  • I see a sad procession,
  • And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles,
  • All the channels of the city streets they're flooding,
  • As with voices and with tears...”
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

What opera is closest to California redwoods?

Tough competing with the English and Austrians
Next Article

Vista City Attorney and James Buss donate to Trump campaign

Chula Vista's Jill Galvez barred from voting on fire trucks
From Death Dance by Bernt Notke, end of 15th century (Art Museum of Estonia)
From Death Dance by Bernt Notke, end of 15th century (Art Museum of Estonia)

There’s Covid-19 and then there’s the Black Death. The height of the Black Death was between the years of 1347-1351. Estimates for the number of deaths in, during the Black Death, range to 200 million.

A culture of death was established as a result of the Black Death. The Danse Macabre was a visual representation of the immediacy of death. In the murals, death danced with the Pope, kings, merchants, knights, maidens, lords, serfs, children, and clerics. No one was spared, death functioned as the great equalizer. It still does.

Video:

The Fieldmarshal

From Songs and Dances of Death by Modest Mussorgsky.

From Songs and Dances of Death by Modest Mussorgsky.

There have been several musical settings of the Danse Macabre; the version by Camille Saint-Saëns is the most famous. Other composers such as Gustav Mahler, Franz Liszt, and Dimitri Shostakovich have created music based on the grim reaper.

My favorite setting is Songs and Dances of Death by Modest Mussorgsky. In keeping with the tradition, Mussorgsky sprinkles death across a variety of demographics.

The first song, Lullaby brings us the death of an infant. Death addresses the mother,

  • “...You've failed to pacify the child.
  • I'll sing sweeter than you..."

Following Lullaby is Serenade. A sick maiden lies awake thinking of life’s pleasures while death sings to her.

  • “Meanwhile under the window in the midnight silence
  • Death sings a serenade:
  • "In the gloom of captivity, severe and stifling,
  • Your youth is fading away;
  • A mysterious knight, with magic powers
  • I'll free you up.”

The third song follows a drunken peasant into the woods where he freezes to death, and then we come to the fourth song which is called The Fieldmarshal. Here, death is portrayed as a general presiding over a vast battlefield of the dead illuminated by moonlight. Death explains,

  • “The battle is finished! I won over everyone!
  • You all submitted before me, soldiers!
  • Life has made you quarrel, I have reconciled you!
  • Stand up as one for the parade, corpses!
  • Pass in front of me in a pompous march,
  • I want to count my troops...”
Video:

A Dirge for Two Veterans

Ralph Vaughan Williams has set Whitman’s verse to music.

Ralph Vaughan Williams has set Whitman’s verse to music.

All four deaths were common not only in 19th Century Russia but in every country, including the United States. We can look to Walt Whitman’s A Dirge for Two Veterans for an American verse similar to the moon-lit procession of Mussorgsky’s Fieldmarshal.

  • “THE last sunbeam
  • Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,
  • On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking,
  • Down a new-made double grave.
  • LO, the moon ascending,
  • Up from the east the silvery round moon,
  • Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
  • Immense and silent moon...
  • I see a sad procession,
  • And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles,
  • All the channels of the city streets they're flooding,
  • As with voices and with tears...”
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Spotty internet makes it hard to stay at home in Descanso

Forget the antenna clusters
Next Article

Sanctified and glorified at Encanto Southern Baptist Church

Life is important on this side of death, but what really matters is eternity.
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close