No one is completely independent but most people learn to fend for themselves instead of their parents or other caretaker. Becoming independent, or self-sufficient, is an important part of a responsible life.
- Tara Westover, Educated: A Memoir (Random House, 2018): “A young woman’s extraordinary journey from her survivalist family in Idaho to the halls of the Ivy League.”
On the dark side:
Music: songs and other short pieces
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Hector Berlioz, Harold in Italy (Harold en Italie), H. 68 (1834): Berlioz spent time in Italy, in 1831-1832. “Berlioz must have closely identified with Byron's title character, a melancholy dreamer who visits and comments upon sites of classical antiquity in search of meaning to counter his own world-weary disillusionment.” He explained: “My idea was to write a series of scenes for the orchestra in which the solo viola would be involved as a more or less active character, always retaining its own individuality. By placing the viola in the midst of poetic recollections of my wanderings in the [Italian] Abruzzi, I wished to make of it a sort of melancholy dreamer after the manner of Byron’s Childe Harold. Thus the title: Harold in Italy.” “All four movements picture outdoor scenes drawn from the most vivid experiences of his Italian sojourn.” Though he composed it at Paganini’s request, Paganini never played it. From the viola’s first entrance, we hear a joyous expression of personal freedom and exploration. Top recorded performances are by Primrose in 1939, Primrose, in 1952, Riddle in 1953, Kirschner in 1955, Lincer in 1961, Menuhin in 1962, Barshai in 1964 (mvt 1/1; mvt 1/2; mvt 2; mvt 3; mvt 4/1; mvt 4/2) ***; Caussé in 1994; and Tabea Zimmermann in 2018.
Many Finns referred to Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43 (1902) as the “Symphony of Independence”, an “emblem of national liberation”. “By the time of the premier in March 1902, it was inevitable that Sibelius’s new work would be received against the background of the nationalist struggle for independence against Tsarist Russia.” Though musicologists generally reject the suggestion that Sibelius harbored any such intention, the stirring melodies in the final movement justify the label. “. . . Sibelius marches to his own drummer. Stravinsky once heard Sibelius’s Second Symphony in the company of his teacher, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and reported that Rimsky offered a solitary comment after the performance: 'Well, I suppose that’s possible, too.'” Top recordings are conducted by Barbirolli in 1962 ***, Abendroth in 1951, Beecham in 1954, Paray in 1959, Szell in 1970, Bernstein in 1986, Neeme Järvi in 1993, Vänskä in 1997, Dudamel in 2011, and Mäkelä in 2021.
Richard Strauss was notorious for his ego. Fortunately, music offers us other ways to interpret this brilliant composer’s expression of personal autonomy. Several of Strauss’ concerti offer similar treatments of the solo voice as in Berlioz’s “Harold”: great freedom in the solo voice, surrounded but not encumbered by the orchestral accompaniment.
- Oboe Concerto in D major
- Horn Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major, Op. 11
- Horn Concerto No. 2 in E-flat major, TrV 283
The early music of Louis Armstrong, icon of American music, exudes many positive emotions and values, among them the value of independence. Louis paved the way not only for himself but for many other musicians, and for an entire musical idiom.
- Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five
- The Hot Fives and Hot Sevens
- complete Hot Fives and Sevens
- Louis in the 1920s
- Other early recordings
“Classical” composers and some of their works:
- Many of George Enescu’s works for violin, including his Violin Sonata No. 2 in F Minor, Violin Sonata No. 3 in A Minor, dans le caractère populaire roumain, Op. 25 (1926), and short pieces for violin
- Miram Hyde’s music for flute and piano, including: Sonata in G Minor for flute and piano (1. Allegro giocoso; 2. Andante pastorale; 3. Allegro con spirito); Five Solos for Flute and Piano (1. Beside the Stream; 2. Wedding Morn; 3. The Little Juggler; 4. Marsh Birds; 5. Evening Under the Hill)
Film and Stage
- Marty: a young man stands up to his peers and his motherto pursue a young woman – she may not be everyone’s idea of a beauty but he likes her
- Spirited Away, a Japanese anime about a young girl who is separated, for a while, from parents who just don’t get it, and “must go it alone to rescue them”; “the story of a girl's voyage into the spirit world to rescue her parents, who, in typical idiotic adult fashion, drive on a road where they shouldn't drive, eat food they shouldn't eat and end up getting turned into pigs”
- The Little Mermaid: Disney’s transformationof an Andersen fairy tale
- Kazoku gêmu(The Family Game), about a child’s emergence from a family with “a house so small you virtually have to go outside to change your mind”
- Beasts of the Southern Wild: this film about a six-year-old girl and the people surrounding her “is animated by the same spirit of freedom it sets out to celebrate . . . a bracing reminder of the meaning of independence”
My life more civil is and free / Than any civil polity.
Ye princes, keep your realms / And circumscribèd power, / Not wide as are my dreams, / Nor rich as is this hour.
What can ye give which I have not? / What can ye take which I have got? / Can ye defend the dangerless? / Can ye inherit nakedness?
To all true wants Time's ear is deaf, / Penurious states lend no relief / Out of their pelf: / But a free soul — thank God —
Can help itself.
Be sure your fate / Doth keep apart its state, / Not linked with any band,
Even the noblest of the land; / In tented fields with cloth of gold / No place doth hold, / But is more chivalrous than they are, / And sigheth for a nobler war; / A finer strain its trumpet sings, / A brighter gleam its armor flings.
The life that I aspire to live / No man proposeth me; / No trade upon the street / Wears its emblazonry.
[Henry David Thoreau, “Independence”]
Independence of spirit:
The Widow Douglas she took me for her son, and allowed she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in a house all the time . . . so when I couldn't stand it no longer I lit out. I got into my old rags and my sugar-hogshead again . . . and was free and satisfied. But Tom Sawyer he hunted me up and said he was going to start a band of robbers, and I might join if I would go back to the widow and be respectable. So I went back. [Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1906), Chapter I, “I Discover Moses and the Bullrushers”.]
- Elisa Shua Dusapin, Winter in Sokcho (Open Letter, 2021): “An atmospheric novel about an independent young woman in a South Korean beach town.”