Believing things to be true because one wishes them to be true is a prime malady of the human condition. It is an opposite of objectivity, reflecting a shortfall of intellectual honesty. It has led to wars, famines and other guarantors of human suffering.
Meditation for Tuesday of Week 39 in the season of Fulfillment
Confidence is the thought-element of faith. Often this is an intuitive thought, which is easily confused with an emotion. When we think an effort may work out, we could say that we have confidence in it. When we think highly of a person’s ability to bring about a desired end, we are confident in that person, at least for that purpose.
- Artemesia Gentileschi, Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (c. 1630-37)
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Clark Terry was a United States jazz trumpeter whose recording career spanned from 1955 until 2015, producing an extensive discography and playlist. Influenced, perhaps, by Davis/Evans birth of the cool, and throughout his career, his playing displayed a quiet confidence and Faith in himself, in his surroundings and in his fellow players.
- Terry began his recording career playing mainly bebop and swing. In this phase, hints of the early-sixties phase that was to follow peaked through. Albums from this period include “Serenade to a Bus Seat” (1957) and “In Orbit” with Thelonious Monk (1958).
- On “Everything’s Mellow” (1961), Terry began a transition to another phase of his career. Throughout most of the 1960s, he practiced a style that was calmer and less rambunctious than that of swing and bebop. In that style are shades of what would become known as elevator music but Terry’s musicianship was far superior to that. He may also have been pushing back a bit against jazz music being characteristically African-American: this style suggests a bit of assimilation into European-American culture. He broke the color barrier on The Tonight Show on NBC in 1962, becoming the first musician of African descent in the band. His albums in this style include “Color Changes” (1960), “Back in Bean’s Bag”, with Coleman Hawkins (1962), “The Happy Horns of Clark Terry” (1964), “Spanish Rice”, with Chico O’Farrill (1966), and “It’s What’s Happenin’” (1967).
- In the coming years, his work with a big band had the flavor of his 1960s period. Albums of this kind include “Clark Terry’s Big B-A-D Live at the Wichita Jazz Festival” (1974), “Clark Terry’s Big B-A-D Band Live at Buddy’s Place” (1976) and “Big Bad Band Live in Holland” (1979). Artistically, however, he had already returned to more longstanding jazz roots.
- Throughout most of his career, Terry championed swing, bebop and straight-ahead jazz. His albums along these lines exude another shade of confidence. They include “Wham” (1976), “The Globetrotter” (1977) “Clark After Dark: The Ballad Artistry of Clark Terry” (1978), “OW” (1981), “Portraits” (1989), “Having Fun” (1990), “The Hymn” (1993) “The Secod Set: Recorded Live at the Village Gate” (1995) “Live in Chicago” (1995), “Top and Bottom” (1995) “One on One” (2000), “Herr Ober” (2000), and “Live on QE2” (2002). Over a long life of ninety-five years, he expressed himself as he deemed best at the time.
Violinist Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst (1812-65) composed numerous works for his instrument, accompanied by piano. Their hallmarks include mutual support and reliance, underlain with a sense of confidence, each voice in the other.
- Carnival of Venice Variations, (Variations burlesques sur la canzonetta ‘Cara mamma mia’), Op. 18 (1844)
- Othello Fantasy
- Airs Hongrois (Hungarian Melodies), Op. 22 (1850)
- Introduction Et Variations Brillantes En Form Des Fantaisie Introduction Thema, Op. 6 (1833)
- Deux Nocturnes, Op. 8
- Thème Allemand Varié, Op. 9 (1835)
- Elegie Sur La Mort D'un Objet Cheri, Op. 10
- Fantaisie Brillante sur la Marche et la Romance d'Otello de Rossini, Op. 11 (1839)
- Deux Morceaux de Salon, Op. 13
- Deux Romances, Op. 15
- Boléro, Op. 16
- Rondo Papageno, Op. 20
- Rondo Allemand pour Piano et Violon sur des thèmes d’Oberon, Op. 23
- Fantaisie brillante sur le Prophète (Opéra de G. Meyerbeer), Op. 24
- Introduction, Variations et finale sur un Valse de Strauss, Op. 26
- Souvenir du Pré aux Clercs for Violin and Piano (1836)
- Pensées fugitives (Les gages d’amitié) for Violin and Piano (1842)
- Souvenirs De L'opera La Juive de Halevy Composes par Osborne et Ernst
In addition, two of Ernst’s works for violin and orchestra:
Confidence in self and in each other (fellow players) characterize Dvořák’s two piano quartets:
Walton, Violin Sonata (1949): the violin confides in the piano, then they move forward together.
Two Indian ragas:
- Raag Dhani is a Hindustani classical raag played during daylight hours (performances by Koparkar, Chaurasia and Sahasrabbudhe).
- Ragam Hansadhvani (Hansadhwani, Hamsadhvani, Hamsadhwani) (translated as “the cry of the swan”) is a Carnatic ragam usually performed in morning or at the beginning of a concert (performances by Amonkar, Banerjee and Sharma).
Lester Young was a jazz tenor saxophonist whose playing illustrated that confidence is not ostentation. “I don't like a whole lot of noise — trumpets and trombones. I'm looking for something soft. It's got to be sweetness, man, you dig?” “. . . despite a short life which was beset by ill health and personal problems, the influential jazz musician left behind some of the most perfectly melodic solos of all time.” His penchant for changing musical styles several times throughout his career, and improvising on the spot, further reflect his confidence.
- Peter Anderson & Will Anderson, “Correspondence”, with Kenny Barron, Ben Wolfe and Kenny Washington
- Paul Bley, “Modern Chant”, with David Eyges and Bruce Ditmas
- Sol Gabetta and Bernard Chamayou, “The Chopin Album”: foreshadowing Chopin’s cello sonata on our day of Reliance, “there’s a lightness of touch and an ease that is utterly beguiling”. [Harriett Smith, Gramophone magazine, November 2021 issue, p. 50.]
From the dark side:
- Ruggles, Evocations (1937 - 1956): piano version; orchestral version
- Bernstein, Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety” (1949)
Did you ever see an alligator
Come up to the air from the mud,
Staring blindly under the full glare of noon?
Have you seen the stabled horses at night
Tremble and start back at the sight of a lantern?
Have you ever walked in darkness
When an unknown door was open before you
And you stood, it seemed, in the light of a thousand candles
Of delicate wax?
Have you walked with the wind in your ears
And the sunlight about you
And found it suddenly shine with an inner splendor?
Out of the mud many times,
Before many doors of light,
Through many fields of splendor,
Where around your steps a soundless glory scatters
Like new-fallen snow,
Will you go through earth, O strong of soul,
And through unnumbered heavens
To the final flame!
[Edgar Lee Masters, “Arlo Will”]
Film and Stage
- Sing Street is a film about a 15-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, both from broken families, living in Dublin during the hard times of the mid-1980s. The boy is a gifted singer and lyricist, and the girl is gorgeous and outwardly self-assured. Together, they create a futuristic popular band, and, the film suggests, a life with each other.
Cosette, as we have said, was not frightened. The man accosted her. He spoke in a voice that was grave and almost bass. "My child, what you are carrying is very heavy for you." Cosette raised her head and replied:-- "Yes, sir." "Give it to me," said the man; "I will carry it for you." Cosette let go of the bucket-handle. The man walked along beside her. "It really is very heavy," he muttered between his teeth. Then he added:-- "How old are you, little one?" "Eight, sir." "And have you come from far like this?" "From the spring in the forest." "Are you going far?" "A good quarter of an hour's walk from here." The man said nothing for a moment; then he remarked abruptly:-- "So you have no mother." "I don't know," answered the child. Before the man had time to speak again, she added:-- "I don't think so. Other people have mothers. I have none." And after a silence she went on:-- "I think that I never had any." The man halted; he set the bucket on the ground, bent down and placed both hands on the child's shoulders, making an effort to look at her and to see her face in the dark. Cosette's thin and sickly face was vaguely outlined by the livid light in the sky. "What is your name?" said the man. "Cosette." The man seemed to have received an electric shock. He looked at her once more; then he removed his hands from Cosette's shoulders, seized the bucket, and set out again. After a moment he inquired:-- "Where do you live, little one?" "At Montfermeil, if you know where that is." "That is where we are going?" "Yes, sir." He paused; then began again:-- "Who sent you at such an hour to get water in the forest?" "It was Madame Thénardier." The man resumed, in a voice which he strove to render indifferent, but in which there was, nevertheless, a singular tremor:-- "What does your Madame Thénardier do?" "She is my mistress," said the child. "She keeps the inn." "The inn?" said the man. "Well, I am going to lodge there to-night. Show me the way." "We are on the way there," said the child. The man walked tolerably fast. Cosette followed him without difficulty. She no longer felt any fatigue. From time to time she raised her eyes towards the man, with a sort of tranquillity and an indescribable confidence. She had never been taught to turn to Providence and to pray; nevertheless, she felt within her something which resembled hope and joy, and which mounted towards heaven. [Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (1862), Volume II – Cosette; Book Third – Accomplishment of a Promise Made To a Dead Woman, Chapter VII, Cosette Side By Side With the Stranger In the Dark.]
Colonel Grangerford . . . was as kind as he could be - you could feel that, you know, and so you had confidence. Sometimes he smiled, and it was good to see; but when he straightened himself up like a liberty-pole, and the lightning begun to flicker out from under his eyebrows, you wanted to climb a tree first, and find out what the matter was afterwards. He didn't ever have to tell anybody to mind their manners – everybody was always good-mannered where he was. Everybody loved to have him around, too; he was sunshine most always – I mean he made it seem like good weather. When he turned into a cloudbank it was awful dark for half a minute, and that was enough; there wouldn't nothing go wrong again for a week. [Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1906), Chapter XVIII, “Why Harney Rode Away for His Hat”.]