- . . . each of us can work to change a small portion of events. . . It is from numberless diverse acts of courage . . . that the belief that human history is thus shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. [Robert F. Kennedy, “Ripple of Hope” address, June 6, 1966.]
No one can do everything but each of us can do something. We may not be able to save the world single-handed but we can make a difference. Our most sacred purpose is to find the place where we fit best, and then contribute in the way that is best suited to each of us, taking into account the needs of the whole.
In a theatre troupe, some people will be well-suited as actors, others as costume designers, others as light technicians or set designers. The troupe’s best light technician may be perfectly suited to certain roles on stage. Can we imagine “The Wizard of Oz” without the incomparable Bert Lahr?
If everyone was a master chef, we might enjoy delicious food but on the other hand, who would grow it, harvest it and market it? In a world still beset by the modern version of tribalism, and taking all misgivings into account, we need soldiers “on that wall.” Perhaps no one contributes more to society than the mothers and fathers all over the world who devote their time and attention to rearing competent, respectful and responsible children. We owe thanks to the research scientist, the honest political leader, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.
The saying that “there are no small parts, only small actors,” refers to the importance in each of us playing our part in our communities. This is the concept of finding our niche.
Technical and Analytical Readings
Documentary and Educational Films
- Clint Eastwood produced a documentary about Thelonious Monk called Straight, No Chaser, after one of Monk's greatest compositions.
Film and Stage
- Big: on not growing up too quickly, no matter how talented you are.
- The Thirty-Nine Steps: I cannot tell you why this is a film about finding one's niche without giving away John Buchan's surprise ending.
- The Jazz Singer: a son gains a sense of forgiveness after breaking with tradition to follow his own artistic path.
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Most great exponents in any field of endeavor exemplify finding one's best place in life but Thelonious Monk comes to my mind as someone who stands out in that way: something about that hat and clothes seems to say "I'm where I need to be." Of Monk, John Coltrane observed that he "talks about music all the time, and he wants so much for you to understand that if, by chance, you ask him something, he'll spend hours if necessary to explain it to you." Idiosyncratic personally and professionally, and a founder of bebop, Monk is recognized among the top handful of jazz giants. Shortly after Monk's death, his family founded the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz (now the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz), devoted to the education of young jazz musicians.
- “Genius of Modern Music” album (1952)
- “Straight, No Chaser” album
- “Monk’s Dream” album
- “Thelonius Monk with John Coltrane” album
- “The Man I Love” album
- “Mønk” album
- “Underground” album
- “Volkshaus Zurich” album (1964)
- “Thelonius Alone in San Francisco” album
- “Solo Monk” album
- “After Hours at Minton’s” album
- “Brilliant Corners” album
- “Grandes Maestros del Jazz 12” album
- “Misterioso” album (1958)
- Live in Copenhagen, 1961
- Live in Paris, 1964
- Live in Paris, 1965
- Thelonius Monk Live in Norway and Denmark, 1966
- Giants of Jazz, Copenhagen, 1971
- Thelonius Monk: American Composer – documentary
- Debussy, Prélude à l’après midi d’un faune (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun)
- Debussy, La Mer (The Sea)
- Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique: 1. Rêveries - Passions; 2. Un bal; 3. Scène aux champs; 4. Marche au Supplice; 5. Songe d'une nuit du Sabbat.
- Fauré, Requiem
- Fauré, orchestral works
- Ravel, Cantata Alyssa
- Ravel, Cantata Myrrha
- Ravel, Alcyone
- Bizet, Patrie, Op. 19
- Bizet, L’Arléssiene, Op, 23
- Bizet, Overture in A minor/A major (1855)
- Saint-Saëns, La Foi, Three Symphonic Pictures after the incidental music, Op. 130
- Chabrier, orchestral works
- Franck, Symphony in D minor
- Franck, Symphonic Variations
- Offenbach, La Belle Hélène
- Offenbach, Orphée aux Enfers
- Gounod, Roméo et Juliette
- Massenet, Hérodiade
- Choruses from French operas
- Magnard, Symphony No. 1, Op. 4
- Magnard, Symphony No. 3, Op. 11
- Magnard, Symphony No. 4, Op. 21
- Ropartz, Symphony No. 3
- Satie, Parade
- Roussel, Évocations, Op. 15
- Roussel, Aux bords du fleuve sacré (1911)
- Honegger, orchestral works
- Duruflé, Requiem
- Dukas, L’Apprenti sorcier (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)
- Duparc, Lénore
- Claude Monet, Haystacks at Chailly at Sunrise (1865)
To this generation I would say:
Memorize some bit of verse of truth or beauty.
It may serve a turn in your life.
My husband had nothing to do
With the fall of the bank -- he was only cashier.
The wreck was due to the president, Thomas Rhodes,
And his vain, unscrupulous son.
Yet my husband was sent to prison,
And I was left with the children,
To feed and clothe and school them.
And I did it, and sent them forth
Into the world all clean and strong,
And all through the wisdom of Pope, the poet:
"Act well your part, there all the honor lies."
[Edgar Lee Masters, “ George Reece”]