When we honor another person’s worth, we do not merely respect their personhood; we cherish and celebrate it.
- Norman Rockwell, Teacher's Birthday: Surprise (1956)
Film and Stage
- Devi, on the impossibility of living up to the image of a goddess (Satyajit Ray’s summary). This film presents the concept of honoring a person’s worth in the negative.
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Op. 36, are short orchestral pieces in honor of various of the composer’s friends. He was honoring them for who they were, not what they were, and so was honoring their intrinsic worth, not their value to others (performances conucted by Elgar, Bernstein and Temirkanov).
Haydn, String Quartets, Opus 55 (“Tost” quartets, set 2, 1788), represent a significant shift in tone from Haydn’s Op. 54 quartets, commonly labeled as the first set in his “Tost” series. As in all of his string quartets, Haydn is in the process of exploring the possibilities of interplay between the voices – the expression of their relationship. In these three quartets, as contrasted with those from Op. 54 (“Tost,” set 1), Haydn has progressed from mere respect (as in fairness) to honoring the other.
- Quartet No. 45 in A major, Op. 55, No. 1, FHE No. 22, Hob. III:60
- Quartet No. 46 in F minor (“Razor”), Op. 55, No. 2, FHE No. 23, Hob. III:61
- Quartet No. 47 in B flat major, Op. 55, No. 3, FHE No. 24, Hob. III:62
Haydn, String Quartets, Op. 64 (“Tost” quartets, set 3, 1790), continue the mood, tone and theme of his Op. 55.
- Quartet No. 48 in C major, Op. 64, No. 1, FHE No. 31, Hob. III:65
- Quartet No. 49 in B minor, Op. 64, No. 2, FHE No. 32, Hob. III:68
- Quartet No. 50 in B flat major, Op. 64, No. 3, FHE No. 33, Hob. III:67
- Quartet No. 51 in G major, Op. 64, No. 4, FHE No. 34, Hob. III:66
- Quartet No. 53 in D major, Op. 64, No. 5 (“The Lark”), FHE No. 35, Hob. III:63
- Quartet No. 52 in E flat major, Op. 64, No. 6, FHE No. 36, Hob. III:64
- Schubert, Piano Sonata No. 15 in G major, Op. posth. 161, D 887
- Tchaikovsky, Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 50, "In Memory of a Great Artist" (1882): the work’s title refers to the subject’s greatness but its personal and elegiac character makes it about the artist’s intrinsic worth.
- Holst, Walt Whitman Overture, Op. 7, H42
- Hahn, Piano Quartet No. 3 in G major (1946) (dedicated to Madame Zerline Rochard)
- Bax, In Memoriam (1916)
- Caplet, Le miroir de Jésus (1923): fashioned after the Christ narrative and the rosary, this song cycle recounts the story of a life.
- Jonathan Miles, Want Not (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013): “Miles’s message . . . (is) that no one can be thrown away . . . As terrible as we can be, we belong here and we matter and we might even do some good.”
- Luis Alberto Urrea, The House of Broken Angels: A Novel (Little, Brown and Company, 2018): a “ . . . highly entertaining story of Big Angel, the de La Cruz family’s patriarch, who buries his mother even as he himself is dying and as his family gathers to celebrate his 70th, and last, birthday.”
Some keep the Sabbath going to Church – / I keep it, staying at Home – / With a Bobolink for a Chorister – / And an Orchard, for a Dome –
Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice – / I, just wear my Wings – / And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church, / Our little Sexton – sings.
God preaches, a noted Clergyman – / And the sermon is never long, / So instead of getting to Heaven, at last – / I’m going, all along.
[Emily Dickinson, “Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church”]
From the dark side:
- Edgar Lee Masters, “Sersmith the Dentist”