A sacred calling is a person’s sense of being drawn into the life activity that best fulfills the person’s commitment to the most meaningful thing(s) in the person’s life. It expands on commitment fidelity in that it relates to whatever the person holds as divine, or of highest importance and value. Here is a video in which Neil de Grasse Tyson describes his calling as an astrophysicist.
- Here is a video in which Neil de Grasse Tyson describes his calling as an astrophysicist.
Film and Stage
- Field of Dreams: “Ray wants to build his field because he is afraid he is turning into his father, whom he has never forgiven for growing old, or, it seems, for dying. So he risks bankruptcy - idealism is pitted against commerce to the end -and crazily plows under part of his crop to build the field.” This is a film about finding a sacred purpose in life – a calling – and pursuing it.
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
These four piano concerti are among the standard repertoire works for great pianists who have made the art their life’s calling. The music evokes the same idea.
Frédéric Chopin, Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11 (1830), (approx. 40-46’) is more piano-forward than most concerti. “. . . we often sense that pianistic brilliance is the entire raison d’être of the concertos leading to Chopin’s, whereas in Chopin virtuosity is used more selectively, as a means toward an end.” “It can be said that modern piano technique begins with Chopin.” Best recorded performances are by Moriz Rosenthal in 1931, Arthur Rubinstein in 1947, Arthur Rubinstein in 1953, Halina Czerny-Stefanska in 1955, Arthur Rubinstein in 1961, Maurizio Pollini in 1960, Martha Argerich in 1968, Friere in 1968, Murray Perahia in 1979, Krystian Zimerman in 1979, Sándor Falvai in 1988, Murray Perahia in 1990, Krystian Zimerman in 1999, William Youn in 2008, Martha Argerich in 2010, and Yundi Li in 2019.
Chopin, Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21 (1830) (approx. 32-26'), can be seen as “Poetry in Motion”. “Neither symphony, opera, nor oratorio tempted (Chopin) whose energies were dedicated exclusively to creating a whole new world of poetry, expressiveness and technique for the keyboard.” In Chopin’s case, these two concerti illustrate the composer’s calling. “Chopin wrote his two piano concertos as musical business cards; they were useful vehicle for self-promotion, particularly when the young Pole arrived in Paris in 1830. Both concertos emphasize the soloist’s role with crystalline, dazzling passages; the orchestra, meanwhile, has a more functional, accompanying role.” Top recorded performances are by Arthur Rubinstein in 1946, Martha Argerich in 1978, Krystian Zimerman in 1979, Murray Perahia in 1990, Emanuel Ax in 1997, Krystian Zimerman in 1999, Eldar Nebolsin in 2010, and Daniil Trifonov in 2017.
Johannes Brahms, Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15 (1858) (approx. 47-53’), commanded Brahms’ attention for five emotionally tumultuous years. He composed this concerto soon after Robert Schuman’s death, and Brahms’ subsequent travels with Schuman’s wife Clara, to whom Brahms was strongly attracted. The music reflects this internal storm. “With an ominous inevitability, the expansive opening theme growls, snarls, and lashes its teeth, rising up like some kind of awesome supernatural power. Immediately, we’re drawn into music which is bold and monumental- a kind of symphony with solo piano.” “Those at the Leipzig premiere . . . reacted as many listeners today do to new works that upset expectations. No concerto they had heard before would have prepared them for such emotional directness, so great a demand for concentration.” Top recorded performances are by Leon Fleisher in 1958, Daniel Barenboim in 1967, Emil Gilels in 1972, Ivan Moravec in 1989 ***, Idil Biret in 2000, Krystian Zimerman in 2004, Nelson Freire in 2006, Maurizio Pollini in 2011, Hélène Grimaud in 2012, Nicholas Argerich in 2014 and Andras Schiff in 2021.
Brahms, Piano Concerto No. 2 in B Flat major, Op. 83 (1881) (approx. 48-54’), displays Brahms in glorious maturity, his relationship with Clara Schuman far behind him. “With the spaciousness of a symphony, the drama of an opera, the intimacy of a lullaby and the intertwining raptures of the greatest love songs, it touches on almost every emotion with extraordinary immediacy and power.” “. . . over the course of three years, Brahms had written a profound and monumental work which stretched the concerto form from the customary three movements to four.” Top recorded performances on disc are by Vladimir Horowitz in 1948, Myra Hess in 1951, Sviatislav Richter in 1960, Rudolf Serkin in 1966, Claudio Arrau in 1969, Emil Gilels in 1972, Arthur Rubinstein in 1972, Stephen Kovacevich in 1980, Nelson Freire in 2006, Nicholas Argerich in 2010, Lars Vogt in 2020, Anna Tsybuleva in 2020, and Andras Schiff in 2021.
We braved the belly of the beast.
[from Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb”]