Beyond mere responsibility, or even reliability, is diligence: the active expression of vigilance. It is a state of constant focus and attention to important details. It is excellence irrespective of ability, in other words, a person may not have the talent to become excellent or even proficient at certain things but through diligence that person will attain the highest level of achievement accessible to him.
The excellent performer is also meticulous. Such a person pays careful attention to ensure that the work product is of the highest possible quality, given the available talents and resources.
- Ilya Repin, Portrait of the Physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1912)
- Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, The Diligent Mother (1740)
- William Hjortsberg, Jubilee Hitchhiker: The Life and Times of Richard Brautigan (Counterpoint, 2012): about the author of Trout Fishing in America, “an ambitious perfectionist who knew what he wanted and labored as methodically at his image and book jackets as at his sentences.”
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Mere diligence does not do justice to Nicolo Paganini’s 24 Caprices for Solo Vioin, Op. 1. These works demand complete mastery of the instrument, which can only be achieved through consummate diligence and attention to technical detail (performances by Zimmermann, Accardo and Perlman).
With their meticulous attention to detail and musical color, the Latvian Radio Choir under Sigvards Kļava capture the idea of diligence, more than vigilance, in this recording of Aleksandr Grechaninov’s All-Night Vigil (Vsenoshchnoye bdeniye), Op. 59 (1912). The performance is also emotionally compelling.
Friedrich Cerha is a contemporary composer whose music sounds like the angst and uncertainty of the twentieth century. Professional musicologists understand that his compositional skills go deeper than that. Of Cerha’s “Spiegel” (a mirror into life) cycle, fellow composer Brian Ferneyhough writes: “As I first listened, I was immediately captivated by the meticulous detail of the configuration, captivated by it in accordance with the extent to which the cluster-like quality of the overall structure did not blot out, but rather sharpened and deepened this necessarily up-close impression. Even ust in connection with the title of the cycle, I thought of comparing it to the so-called ‘Claude-Glass’, that mirror-like accessory made of black obsidian that was used by 19th-century painters. By virtue of the fact that all of the colour is forced out of that which is reflected int the glass, one gets the impression of a raised perspective: the extreme limitation in the one respect leads inevitably to an almost ‘surrealist’ excess of sharpness . . .”
- Bach, Orgelbüchlein (Little Organ Book), bwv 599-644
- Walton, String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor (1947)
- Grażyna Bacewicz, Piano Sonata No. 1 (1949)
- Raga Jait, a daytime (dawn to dusk) raga (performances by Chaurasia, Salamat Ali Khan and Chaurasia)
- Raga Purabi Kalyan is a North Indian raag composed by Nikhil Banerjee, and often called “the hundred-minute raga” (performances by Banerjee, Shankar and Ankalikar)