Self-actualization is essential to the development of maturity. In fact, seen spiritually, maturity is just another word for self-actualization: coming to one’s full self. Still, in our culture, people are inclined to judge according to prevailing standards. Self-actualization is also a means by which we develop the traits that most people would recognize as reflecting maturity.
Technical and Analytical Readings
- Jerome Kagan and Howard A. Moss, Birth to Maturity: A Study in Psychological Development (Yale University Press, 1983).
- J.M. Tanner, Fetus Into Man: Physical Growth from Conception to Maturity (Harvard University Press, 1990).
(Annie Sullivan’s account of Helen’s life-changing revelation, compared to Helen’s illustrate Annie’s comparative maturity as an adult.)
I must write you a line this morning because something very important has happened. Helen has taken the second great step in her education. She has learned that everything has a name, and that the manual alphabet is the key to everything she wants to know. In a previous letter I think I wrote you that "mug" and "milk" had given Helen more trouble than all the rest. She confused the nouns with the verb "drink." She didn't know the word for "drink," but went through the pantomime of drinking whenever she spelled "mug" or "milk." This morning, while she was washing, she wanted to know the name for "water." When she wants to know the name of anything, she points to it and pats my hand. I spelled "w-a-t-e-r" and thought no more about it until after breakfast. Then it occurred to me that with the help of this new word I might succeed in straightening out the "mug-milk" difficulty. We went out to the pump-house, and I made Helen hold her mug under the spout while I pumped. As the cold water gushed forth, filling the mug, I spelled "w-a-t-e-r" in Helen's free hand. The word coming so close upon the sensation of cold water rushing over her hand seemed to startle her. She dropped the mug and stood as one transfixed. A new light came into her face. She spelled "water" several times. Then she dropped on the ground and asked for its name and pointed to the pump and the trellis, and suddenly turning round she asked for my name. I spelled "Teacher." Just then the nurse brought Helen's little sister into the pump-house, and Helen spelled "baby" and pointed to the nurse. All the way back to the house she was highly excited, and learned the name of every object she touched, so that in a few hours she had added thirty new words to her vocabulary. Here are some of them: Door, open, shut, give, go, come, and a great many more. P. S.–I didn't finish my letter in time to get it posted last night; so I shall add a line. Helen got up this morning like a radiant fairy. She has flitted from object to object, asking the name of everything and kissing me for very gladness. Last night when I got in bed, she stole into my arms of her own accord and kissed me for the first timer, and I thought my heart would burst, so full was it of joy. [Annie Sullivan, Letters, April 5, 1887.]
Film and Stage
- Back to the Future, a fantasy in which a teenager whose father had been bullied in high school reclaims his father’s dignity: a film about maturity as an ideal and the pivotal effect of ethical decisions
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Benjamin Britten, String Quartet No. 3 in G Major, Op. 94 (1975) (approx. 27-32’), was the composer’s final completed instrumental work. Exploring relationships, manic drive, solitary reflection, life’s absurdities, and self-assessment, it reflects a master composer at the end of a brilliant and accomplished life. John Bridcut observed: “It’s not often that one of a composer’s final utterances holds the key for a newcomer to unlock his music, but ‘Solo’, as it is called, does just that. It features a long, haunting, cantilena from the first violin, interrupted by the sweetest birdsong, while his three colleagues produce otherworldly sounds from a mixture of harmonics, pizzicatos, glissandos, arpeggios and trills. With such a rich sound palette, it is hard to believe it is a string quartet – you could swear there are wind instruments here, and others not yet invented.” “The Passacaglia proceeds calmly to its close, where the ambiguous concluding chord dissolves as the upper three voices fade away, leaving the cello’s deep D to continue alone and then drift softly into silence. Britten’s comment on this ending was succinct: 'I wanted the work to end with a question.'” Top performances on disc are by Amadeus Quartet in 1977, Endellion Quartet in 1986, Lindsay Quartet in 1988, Maggini Quartet in 1997, Brodsky Quartet in 2001 ***, Belcea Quartet in 2003, Emperor Quartet in 2005, Doric String Quartet in 2018, and Britten Quartet in 2022.
A set of twelve violin concerti by Antonio Vivaldi, titled “Il Cimento dell’Armonie e dell’Inventione,” 12 Concerti for Violin, Strings and Continuo, Op. 8 (1725) (approx. 108-124’) are confidently mature works, ostensibly about harmony (Armonia) and invention (Inventione) The first four of these comprise his “Four Seasons” (La Quattro Stagioni). Excellent recorded performances of the entire opus are by Alice Harnoncourt & Concentus Musicus Wien in 1977 , Maier & Collegium Aureum in 1977 (concerti 1-6; concerti 7-12), Standage & English Concert in 1982, Rolla & Liszt Ferenc Chamber Orchestra in 1983, Huggett & Raglan Baroque Players in 1990, Chiarappa & Accademia Bizantia in 1994, Biondi & Europa Galante in 2001, Thomas & Bournemouth Sinfonietta in 2004, Beznosoiuk & Avison Ensemble in 2012, Guglielmo & L'Arte dell'Arco in 2016. The individual concerti are:
- Violin Concerto in E major, Op. 8, No. 1, RV 269 (Spring)
- Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 8, No. 2, RV 315 (Summer)
- Violin Concerto in F major, Op. 8, No. 3, RV 293 (Autumn)
- Violin Concerto in F minor, Op. 8, No. 4, RV 297 (Winter)
- Violin Concerto in E flat major, Op. 8, No. 5, RV 253 (La Tempesta de Mare [Seastorm])
- Violin Concerto in C major, Op. 8, No. 6, RV 180 (Il Piacere [Pleasure])
- Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 8, No. 7, RV 242
- Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 8, No. 8, RV 332
- Oboe Concerto in D minor, Op. 8, No. 9, RV 454
- Violin Concerto in B flat major, Op. 8, No. 10, RV 362 (La Caccia [Hunt])
- Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 8, No. 11, RV 210
- Violin Concerto in C major, Op. 8, No. 12, RV 449
Haydn’s final few symphonies display that composer’s maturity, especially when compared to and contrasted with his earlier symphonies.
- Symphony No. 88 in G Major, Hob. I:88 (1787) (approx. 20-25’), “is undeniably firmly rooted in the classical tradition. Set in the standard four movements, it offers all of the courtly elegance, charm, and witty good humor we would expect from this innovative and prolific ‘father of the symphony.’ At the same time, this Symphony, written two years before the outbreak of the French Revolution, contains some fascinating foreshadowings of music to come.” Top performances are conducted by Abendroth in 1944, Furtwängler in 1951, Szell in 1954, Reiner in 1960, Märzendorfer in 1971, Bernstein in 1983, and Rattle in 2007.
- Symphony No 89 in F Major, Hob. I:89 (1787) (approx. 19-24’): “Symphony No. 89 . . . has always stood in the shadow of its disproportionately more popular G major sister, No. 88. Reserved, cool and conceptually flawless, it is reminiscent of the consummate form of porcelain figures of that era, according to H. C. Robbins Landon. When it is said Joseph Haydn opened the doors to the 18th century salon to let in a bit of fresh air, then for No. 89 he temporarily shut them again.” Top performances are conducted by Märzendorfer in 1971, Doráti in 1972, Adam Fischer in 1992, Brüggen in 2007, and Rattle in 2007.
- Symphony No. 90 in C Major, Hob. I:90 (1788) (approx. 22-29’): “Here for the first time in the history of symphony the attempt is made to blend a slow introduction and rapid main section with one another.” Top performances are conducted by Ernest Märzendorfer in 1971, Briiggen in 1988, Drahos in 1994, and Rattle in 2007.
- Symphony No. 91 in E-flat Major, Hob. I:91 (1788) (approx. 22-26’), “features many a detail which delight the connoisseur: the principal theme of the first movement is a two-part structure in double counterpoint at the octave, that is, the higher voice and lower voice are interchangeable in accordance with strict rules. In the intermediary episode other contrapuntal parts appear which are then brought to a joint culmination at the end of the movement. The second movement, a movement of variations, has several humorous effects, such as the long trills shortly before the end which sound as if the entire orchestra has got out of control. The final movement features additional compositional treats for connoisseurs: for example, specific segments are extracted from the main theme in order to be used then for accompaniment . . .” Top performances are by Ernest Märzendorfer & Vienna Chamber Orchestra in 1971, Adam Fischer & Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra in 1992, Frans Brüggen & Orchestra of the 18th Century in 2007, and Simon Rattle & Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 2007.
- Symphony No. 93 in D Major, Hob. I:93 (1791) (approx. 21-24’): “Haydn’s London symphonies (nos.93–104) crown his career as a symphonic composer. Not only do they outdo the Paris symphonies stylistically, but he produced them in person for rapturous audiences; this interaction stimulated him to ever bolder and more original conceptions.” Top recorded performances are conducted by Szell in 1968, Bernstein in 1973, Abbado in 1990, and Adam Fischer in 1992.
- Symphony No. 95 in C Minor, Hob. I:95 (1791) (approx. 18-21’): “At this point in his charmed maturity was he not willing to go up against such a C minor work as Mozart’s piano concerto (K. 491 of 1786)? We’ll never know the answer to that question, nor, I suppose, should we even presume to ask. But we know that Haydn was quite in awe of Wolfgang Amadeus’ genius, famously telling Mozart père, '. . . your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name. He has taste and, what is more, the most profound knowledge of music.'” “This piece contains four movements that contrast each other but yet compliment. This piece also contains many style characteristics and formal structures that can be found throughout these movements.” Top performances are conducted by Szell in 1971, Bernstein in 1974, Colin Davis in 1980, Harnoncourt in 1991, and Weil in 2008.
- Symphony No. 96 in D Major, “Miracle”, Hob. I:96 (1791) (approx. 22-24’): “The symphony features all the elements characteristic of Haydn’s late symphonic work and on which Haydn founded his reputation as a “classical composer”: extreme economy and mastery of form coupled with superior individual arrangement of each of the movements.” Top performances are conducted by Walter in 1937, Bernstein (New York Philharmonic), Brüggen in 2007, and Colin Davis in 1981.
- Symphony No. 97 in C Major, Hob. I:97 (1792) (approx. 24-29 minutes): “Boisterous and festive, Symphony No. 97 is filled with the celebratory sounds of trumpets and drums. A single, emphatic octave “C” sets in motion the musical “heartbeat” of the first movement’s Adagio introduction. Contemplative and nostalgic, this introduction, with all of its lamenting musical sighs, lulls us into a quiet dreamscape.” Top performances are by Szell in 1957, Bernstein live, Nikolaus Harnoncourt in 1993, Brüggen in 1994, and Andris Nelsons in 2018.
- Symphony No. 98 in B-flat Major, Hob. I:98 (1792) (approx. 26-30 minutes): “Using both articulative variants of the theme, (a segment in the first movement) extends far beyond everything Haydn demonstrates of compositional elegance, contrapuntal skill and combinational capacity in earlier symphonies. . .” Top performances are by Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1980, Colin Davis & Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1980, Nikolaus Harnoncourt & Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1990, and Colin Davis & London Symphony Orchestra in 2014.
- Symphony No. 99 in E-flat Major, Hob. I:99 (1794) (approx. 25-31 minutes): “. . . this work, along with Haydn’s other 'London' Symphonies . . . unleashed a new kind of music which was louder, bolder, and more intensely dramatic. Gone was the aristocratic elegance of Haydn’s early symphonies, written for the court of Prince Esterházy where the composer was happily employed for 30 years. The Industrial Age had begun. Revolution was in the air.” Top performances are conducted by Szell in 1966, Bernstein in 1972, Karajan in 1982, Giulini in 1986, and Frans Brüggen in 1992.
- Symphony No. 102 in B-flat Major, Hob. I:102 (1794) (approx. 23-28 minutes): “If the nickname Miracle (or any other nickname, for that matter) had become attached to this piece, it would probably be every bit as well known as the other nicknamed ‘London’ symphonies . . . It is one of the set’s finest, covering a broad emotional range that suggests witty Mozartian grace at one end and sober Beethovenian profundity at the other.” Top recorded performances are conducted by Bernstein in 1972, Jochum in 1973, Harnoncourt in 1988, Brüggen in 1992, Rattle in 1995, and Pearlman in 2012.
- Weinberg: Chamber Symphony No. 1 for string orchestra, Op. 145 (1986): serious, nuanced and complex
- Gotkovsky, Symphonie de printemps (Spring Symphony) for orchestra (1973): despite its title, the work traverses all four seasons, culminating in movements reflecting change, growth and maturity.
- Prokofiev’s two string quartets: String Quartet No. 1 in B Minor, Op. 50 (1930); String Quartet No. 2 in F Major, Op. 92 (1941)
- Fürstenthal, Spätlese (Late Harvest) (songs)
Straight-ahead jazz by Howard Alden, with ensembles:
- With the Andy Brown Quartet
- Jazz in Zandvoort
- Live at Dizzy’s, with ensemble (2016)
Albums by other artists:
- Shemekia Copeland, “Turn the Heat Up” (1998): “This amazing debut . . . was cut when Shemekia was only 18, but her emotional maturity was that of an adult who had walked through fire and come out the other side.” [Downbeat magazine, September 2021, p. 40.]
- Matthias Tschopp Quartet, “Untitled”
- Ravi Coltrane, “Spirit Fiction”
- Bennie Maupin & Adam Rudolph, "Symphonic Tone Poem for Broather Yusef” (2022), in honor of Yusel Lateef: “The album weaves a magical, meditative path across five movements, combining electronics, saxophone, voices and Rudolph’s wide palette of percussion from hand drums to thumb pianos and gongs.”
- Miles Davis, “Melbourne ‘88”: the great jazz trumpeter and musical innovator, near the end of his life
- David Murray, Brad Jones & Hamid Drake, “Seriana Promethea” (2022): observing how age has changed him as a musician, Murray says, “We tend to play fewer notes, but with more authority. We play truer tones.”
Novels and stories:
- Susan Choi, My Education: A Novel (Viking, 2013): “She invokes the prosaic demands the 21-year-old has never suffered in order to explain why things between them will never work out, and teaches Regina — by hurting her — that the single-minded force of a girl’s love ‘never lasts.’”
- Nicole Krauss, To Be a Man: Stories (Harper/HarperCollins, 2020): “Nicole Krauss is less interested in describing life’s grand explosions than she is in showing how people make sense of the rubble.”