A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this video (I believe it was posted by one of my favorite pages on Facebook, “This is Europa”). Upon watching it, I was struck by the beauty of the architecture and music, but the people and their reactions to the music are even more moving. Such beautiful, honest expressions of true wonder and astonishment are so rare in today’s Western World, yet the most prolific melody line of any song of the European Classics can still move a grown man to tears. I’ll admit, I sobbed quite a bit as I watched this video unfold for the first time. The best part of the video, by far, is how well it embodies the European Soul.
European Man has an innate adoration for Beauty which breeds his need to explore, to create and to experience. It is this love, this need for Beauty in all her wonderful forms which has been the catalyst for every great society the West has ever birthed. John Keats concluded his most famous poem, Ode on a Grecian Urn with the following lines:
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
My interest in Baroque, Classical and Romanticist music has piqued recently, largely in part to that wonderful video. In middle school, our music teacher required us to learn to play three simple melodies on a keyboard. The first one I chose was Ode to Joy. I knew it from church and always adored its immortal melody. Now, a dozen years later, I’ve come to know the piece for what it truly is and why it has been so deified in the Pantheon of Western Art. The original text to the song is remarkable. My favorite passage reads:
Freude, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken.
Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Joy, beautiful Spark of the Gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
Drunk on thy flames we enter
Your Heavenly Sanctuary!
Do yourself a favor and listen to the piece in its entirety while reading along here:
Beethoven’s immortal message in this masterpiece is today, more relevant than ever. It is Joy, it is Beauty which inspires us to live life for all the right reasons. These Daughters of Elysium are Odin’s Mead of Inspiration and The Muses our ancestors knew so well. It is they who whispered this melody in Beethoven’s ear, they who inspired the architects who built Europe’s most beautiful Cathedrals and the Temples of the Pagan Era, they who planted the seed of wanderlust in the hearts of European Man, that we would one day explore and settle another half of the world and even visit our own Moon! I am sure that the Sparks of the Gods were present with Yuri Gargarin as he made history, as they would have been with Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong as their boots first touched the Lunar surface. It is these Daughters of Elysium that prove to us the existence of something greater than ourselves. Beethoven leads to the end of the piece with the words:
Brüder! Über’m Sternenzelt
Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen!
Brothers! Beyond the Stars
a loving Father must dwell!
In our atheistic, pessimistic, materialistic, culture-void age, we need Divinity more than ever. It has been our recognition of Beauty as Divine, and therefor the worship of the Divine that has led our societies to greatness in the past. As Western Europe and America crumble to Godless degeneracy, Russia enters a new Golden Age with a deep Orthodox Christian devotion to God, and therefore to Beauty and Joy, his silent Daughters of Elysium. Under atheistic Bolshevism, the Russians and indeed the entire Soviet Union suffered a soullessness that one need look no further than East Bloc architecture to see first hand.
I have been to East Berlin, to Budapest and Prague and sadly, these eternal cities bare the scars of a Beauty-less time between their most incredible monuments and buildings. We see similarities in supposed “modern architecture” here in the West, as well. There is a want to create, yet a sad inability to recognize why man needs to create! It is Beauty and the Joy that she brings! Without this, our nations are rootless and therefore, shall fall. As the toppled tree rots, one grows in its place. May we live to see the sapling who will grow with us once again!