Early on, we identified “engaging the world” as a basic building block for ethical and personal development. This refers to engaging at some level, coming out of the cocoon.
Engagement as an aspect of flourishing refers to being fully engaged in the affairs of life: in one’s activities and relationships. It implies enthusiasm, a let-the-juice-run-down-your-chin bite into the watermelon. In fact, this kind of engagement is the active manifestation of enthusiasm. When a person lives this way, life seems more meaningful. For one thing, a person who is fully engaged is too busy to feel depressed. For another, engagement builds the relationships that serve as building blocks for spirituality.
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
La Monte Young, The Well-Tuned Piano: this one-of-a-kind, five-hour performance on a specially tuned solo piano epitomizes complete engagement in music.
Béla Bartók, The Wooden Prince, Op. 13, Sz. 60, BB 74 (1917) (approx. 48’), is a one-act ballet “based upon a fairy-tale which focuses upon the themes of love and loneliness, the contrasting natures of men and women, the artist's relationship to creativity and the triumph of love over adversity.” A princess dances, as a prince “sets out to see the world”. The prince is smitten, pursues the princess, is at first impeded, then triumphs. They depart together. Here is a link to a video-recorded performance of the ballet by unidentified performers. Top audio-recorded performances are conducted by Kocsis in 1969, Boulez (New York) in 1977, Boulez (Chicago) in 1991, Iván Fischer in 1997 and Măcelaru in 2023.
No one was more fully engaged in his conducting than Leonard Bernstein. Watch him conducting:
- Mahler, Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection”
- Mahler, Symphony No. 5
- Mahler, Symphony No. 6
- Mahler, Symphony No. 9
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 9
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 5
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”
- Beethoven, Symphony No. 8
Zdeněk Fibich’s 2nd and 3rd symphonies have a sordid history, arising out of an affair he had during not one but two consecutive marriages. Yet whatever we might say about the ethical quality of his conduct, he was fully engaged in his life. The music reflects that in a more integrated way than his life did.
- Symphony No. 2 in E-flat Major, H 304, Op. 38 (1894)
- Symphony No. 3 in E Minor, H 324, 53 (1898)
Franz Berwald’s two piano quintets:
- Piano Quintet No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 5 (1853)
- Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 6 (ca. 1853)
Sandro Fuga’s three cello sonatas:
- Cello Sonata No. 1 (1938)
- Cello Sonata No. 2 (1972)
- Cello Sonata No. 3 (1989)
Shake Stew: “Shake Stew’s unusual configuration of 2 drummers, 2 bass players and 3 horns is one of the key things that has made this 7-piece band stand out. . . . This instrumentation, which at first seems a little strange, seamlessly blends together, creating the trademark Shake Stew high-energy sound that their reputation has been built on.”
- “Heat” (2022) (69’): “Hypnotic Afrobeat and driving rhythms have characterized the band's sound from the beginning, but just when you think you have deciphered the magic formula of this musical stew, Shake Stew reveals the entire sonic range of its unique instrumentation. On the verge of absolute silence, sound formations emerge as if conjured from nowhere, bobbing along on trance-like repeated bass lines and finely tuned gong patterns, touching you at least as deeply in their tranquility and fragility as the groove explosions that precede them.”
- “(A)live!” (2020) (42’). The group says: “The spirit behind this album is to emphasize the existential need for our music to be performed live, and the fact that it can only live and thrive as a collective phenomenon in an organic exchange with the audience. The emotions and sounds created in these moments are never private. Each and every person in the audience contributes to the process, in a constant interaction with the musicians.”
- “Gris Gris” (2019) (94’): “The opening track, ‘I Can Feel the Heat Closing In’, sets the tone of the album, beginning with the double bass pair laying down rambunctious bass grooves which are supplemented with alternating percussive rhythmic patterns. The horns add to the scene by weaving in a harmonious North African modal melodic line . . . raising your blood pressure and flow of adrenaline as a sense of impending pandemonium washes over you.”
- “Rise and Rise Again” (2018) (43’): “Shake Stew is back with six new Kranzelbinder compositions that create a hypnotic mixture of afrobeat and jazz grooves shaken up by the powerful and enigmatic soundscapes created with a combination of two drummers and two double bass players.”
- “The Golden Fang” (2017) (64’): “The enormous joy that all involved in creating the 'The Golden Fang' felt is almost tangible. The energy, momentum, and wit of Shake Stew are contagious.”
- Charles Lloyd & The Marvels, “Tone Poem”
- Cordelia Williams, “Nightlight”, piano works by Evans, Liszt, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Scriabin and Tomkins
- Théotime Langlois de Swarte, “Leclair, Vivaldi, Locatelli”
- Romain Leleu, “The Trumpet as Movie Star”
- McCoy Tyner/Freddie Hubbard Quartet, “Live at Fabrik, Hamburg 1986”
- Vincent van Gogh, Two Peasant Women Digging in Field with Snow (1890)
- Vincent van Gogh, Two Peasants Digging (after Millet) (1889)
- Vincent van Gogh, Arles View from the Wheat Fields (1888)
- Vincent van Gogh, Meadows near Rijswijk (1882)
- Paul Cezanne, Life in the Fields (c. 1875)
- Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Summer (1568)
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Lee Ann Womack, I Hope You Dance
Now as the train bears west, / Its rhythm rocks the earth, / And from my Pullman berth / I stare into the night / While others take their rest. / Bridges of iron lace, / A suddenness of trees, / A lap of mountain mist / All cross my line of sight, / Then a bleak wasted place, / And a lake below my knees.
Full on my neck I feel / The straining at a curve; / My muscles move with steel, / I wake in every nerve. / I watch a beacon swing / From dark to blazing bright; / We thunder through ravines / And gullies washed with light.
Beyond the mountain pass / Mist deepens on the pane; / We rush into a rain / That rattles double glass. / Wheels shake the roadbed stone, / The pistons jerk and shove, / I stay up half the night / To see the land I love.
[Theodore Roethke, “Night Journey”]
- Edgar Lee Masters, “Conrad Siever”
- Edgar Lee Masters, “Edmund Pollard”