The ability to do one task well is valuable. The step beyond that, into excellence, is characterized by the ability to perform many tasks well – to contribute to the whole in whatever may be needed.
Noël Coward is an exemplar of versatility: "Success came easily in at least three ways. It came early . . . It came fluidly . . . And - most remarkably of all - success came in a dizzying array of disciplines."
- Barry Day, ed., The Noël Coward Reader (Knopf, 2010).
- Barry Day, ed., The Letters of Noël Coward (Knopf, 2007).
- Philip Hoare, Noël Coward: A Biography (Simon & Schuster, 1996).
- Graham Payn, My Life with Noël Coward (Applause Books, 2000).
Other versatile figures:
- Rüdiger Safranski, Goethe: Life As a Work of Art (trans. David Dolienmayer) (Liveright Publications, 2017). “He built roads. He oversaw mines. He shrank the deficit.”
Film and Stage
- Kind Hearts and Coronets: Alec Guinness plays eight roles
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Trumpeter, conductor and music educator-ambassador Wynton Marsalis has excelled at both jazz and classical music, and trumpet showpieces.
- Haydn, Trumpet Concerto in E flat major
- Hummel, Trumpet Concerto in E flat major
- Leopold Mozart, Trumpet Concdrto in D major
- “Baroque Duet” album with Kathleen Battle
- Live at the House of Tribes
- Jazz Jamboree, 1983
- At the Newport Jazz Festival, 1989 and 2005
- At the North Sea Jazz Festival, 1982
- Leading the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in 2004, 2015 and 2019
- Wynton is a champion of various styles of and perspectives on jazz, including Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald’s songbook, Dave Brubeck’s music and elegant jazz.
- With country singer Willie Nelson
- With Norah Jones
- Wynton in Stuttgart
- Wynton Marsalis Septet at Amnesty International concert in Chile
- Jazz in Marciac, 2009: Part 1; Part 2
- The Abyssian Mass
- With Lucky Peterson in Marciac
- With Eric Clapton, Layla
- Arban, Carnival of Venice
- Rimsky-Korsakov, Flight of the Bumblebee
Blues artist Rory block demonstrates her versatility by adjusting her styles to emulate other great blues artists.
- “Blues Walkin’ Like a Man: A Tribute to Son House”
- “Shake ‘Em On Down: A Tribute to Mississippi Fred McDowell”
- “I Belong to the Band: A Tribute to Rev. Gary Davis”
- “Avalon: A Tribute to Mississippi John Hurt”
- “Hard Luck Child: A Tribute to Skip James”
- “Keepin’ Outta Trouble: A Tribute to Bukka White”
- “A Woman’s Soul: A Tribute to Bessie Smith”
Here is a collection of albums illustrating the emotive versatility of the many kinds of fiddles, only a few of which are represented here:
- Jouhiorkesteri, “Nikodemus” – Finnish bowed lyre: celebratory, from Finland;
- Kayhan Kalhor & Ali Akbar Moradi, “In the Mirror of the Sky” – Persian spike fiddle and plucked tanbur: haunting, from Persia;
- Sakar Khan, “At Home” – bowed kamancha: personal and intimate, from India;
- Ram Narayan, “The Art of Ram Narayan” – sarangi: evocative and intellectual, from India;
- Raushan Orazbaeva, “Akku” – two-stringed kobyz: contemplative, from Kazakhstan;
- Stelios Petrakis, “The Art of Lyra” – Cretan lyra: steeped in tradition, from Crete, off Greece;
- Yu Hong Mei, “Erhu Chant” – erhu: dreamlike, from China;
- “The Art of the Gadulka” – gadulka: purposeful, from Bulgaria.
Artists who are proficient at several instruments:
- Roxy Coss (several instruments in the saxophone and clarinet families), “Chasing the Unicorn” and “Restless Idealism” albums
- David Helbock, “Tour D’Horizon – from Brubeck to Zawinul” (2018)
Novels and stories:
- Nana Nkweti, Walking on Cowrie Shells: Stories (Graywolf Press, 2021): “Nkweti writes across multiple genres including science fiction, young adult literature, literary fiction and suspense, showcasing a host of voices . . .”