- Serenity comes when you trade expectations for acceptance. [attribution unknown]
Serenity refers to the kind of tranquility experienced when one has attained a pervasive inner peace, which comes from all the things we have touched on so far. Especially important are the values we are exploring this week. In this model, we distinguish serenity from mere tranquility in this way: a person may be tranquil and still harbor inner conflicts but when she has surrendered to those realities she cannot change, embraced life as it is, mastered forgiveness and become content, then she can practice the healing and restorative art of serenity.
An opposite and obstacle is anxiety.
- Natasha Trethewey, Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir (Ecco, 2020): “How do you not vomit up all the anguish when artfully vomiting up all the anguish is one way of getting free?”
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
- John Rutter, Requiem (performances conducted by Brown, Cleobury and Rutter)
- Dennis Johnson, November (1959): Nicolas Horvath’s 2022 recording takes Dennis Johnson’s iconic minimalist work for solo piano into a realm unmatched by the original recording.
- John Luther Adams, In the White Silence (1998) (75'): “White is not the absence of color. It is the fullness of light. Silence is not the absence of sound. It is the presence of stillness.” “Like many of Adams's previous works (this work) is an example of his concept of 'sonic geography,' through which he attempts to realize the notion of music as place and place as music and reveals his obsession with the 'treeless, windswept expanses of the Arctic.”
- Steven Halpern, “Ocean of Bliss” album (2020) (80’) and “Ocean of Bliss, Vol. 2” album (2022) (68’)
- Steve Halpern, “Inner Peace” album (2002) (60')
- Steven Halpern, “Lake Suite” (2004) (78’)
- Steven Halpern, “Serenity Suite” album (1999) (60')
- Liquid Mind, “Relax” album
- Einaudi, “Waves”, vol. 1; vol. 2
- Brian Eno, “New Space Music”
- Vasks, Musica Serena
- Seckou Keita, “22 Strings/Cordes” album
(from nature itself) Echoes of Nature:
- Hot Springs in Rainforest
- Ocean Waves: Pleasant Beach
- Wilderness River: Big River, Streamside Songbirds and Crickets and Water
Other nature sound tracks:
- Tropical beach sounds
- Gentle stream sounds
- Forest river sounds
- Rainforest sounds
- Forest birds sounds
- Gentle wind in mountains sounds
- Wind in the trees sounds
- Wind and distant waves sounds
From the shadow side: Contemporary chamber music is characteristically unsettled, usually reflecting anxiety and worry. Here are several examples:
- Krzysztof Penderecki, chamber music, performed by the Tippett Quartet, Tale Quartet, Silesian String Quartet, and Quatuor Molinari
From the dark side:
- Historically, Brazil is a difficult place. Cláudio Santoro, who lived there during the 20th century, composed fourteen symphonies, most of them unsettled and restless. Whether they reflect turmoil in Brazil during that time, or turmoil within himself, they illustrate an opposite of serenity, in music – especially the latest ones. They include: Symphony No. 5 (1955) (approx. 34’); Symphony No. 9 (1982) (approx. 25’); Symphony No. 11 (approx. 17’); and Symphony No. 12 (approx. 26’).
- Henri Matisse, Luxury, Serenity and Pleasure (1904)
- Isaac Levitan, Above the Eternal Tranquility (1894)
- Ivan Aivazovsky, Seashore (1843)
Your hands lie open in the long fresh grass,— / The finger-points look through like rosy blooms: / Your eyes smile peace. The pasture gleams and glooms / 'Neath billowing skies that scatter and amass.
All round our nest, far as the eye can pass, / Are golden kingcup fields with silver edge / Where the cow-parsley skirts the hawthorn-hedge. / 'Tis visible silence, still as the hour-glass.
Deep in the sun-searched growths the dragon-fly / Hangs like a blue thread loosened from the sky:— / So this wing'd hour is dropt to us from above.
Oh! clasp we to our hearts, for deathless dower, / This close-companioned inarticulate hour / When twofold silence was the song of love.
[Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Silent Noon”]
Peace flows into me
As the tide to the pool by the shore;
It is mine forevermore,
It ebbs not back like the sea.
I am the pool of blue
That worships the vivid sky;
My hopes were heaven-high,
They are all fulfilled in you.
I am the pool of gold
When sunset burns and dies, —
You are my deepening skies,
Give me your stars to hold.
[Sara Teasdale, “Peace”]
Music: songs and other short pieces
- Nawang Khechog, Quiet Mind
From the dark side:
- Gabriel Kahane, Die Traumdeutung (Dream Interpretation) (anxiety)