Dialogue of Civilizations
Renaissance of Classical Culture
Toward a Renaissance of Classical Culture
By Helga Zepp LaRouche, founder of the international Schiller Institute and president of the Schiller Institute in. Originally published in the May 2012 German language magazine “Ibykus.”
What has become of our world? Top bankers are warning about the “apocalypse”—which doesn’t prevent them at the same time from stuffing seven-figure bonuses into their pockets—as if burial shrouds had pockets! Politicians are willing to sell their own grandmothers in order to calm down “the markets,” while the General Welfare which they have sworn to protect, has been erased from their vocabulary. Heads of government who have just finished expunging democracy and constitutional rule from their own countries, are now prepared, under the pretext of concern for democracy and human rights, to march from a “humanitarian intervention” into a neighboring land, straight into a thermonuclear apocalypse.
Hundreds of millions of human beings are under dire threat of starvation, disease, and lack of clean water; but meanwhile at church councils, the use of bio-fuels is defended, and the popes of environmentalism get decorated with the Medal of Honor for stopping agricultural production and water management, causing millions of human lives to be lost. For decades, “society” has been tolerating the tearing down of one bastion of civilized behavior after another; and so is it any wonder now, that twelve-year-olds are downloading pornographic videos onto their smart phones and showing them around on the school playground; or that it’s considered almost normal that individuals riding the subway or walking on side-streets are “ripped off,” and have to relinquish all their valuables in order to forestall something far worse? Might we not, then, say that a society in which teenagers are the most menacing social grouping, can be considered a failed society?
This list of social evils could be expanded in many directions. It’s certainly true that the root of many of the problems lies in the false axiomatics of economic, military, and social policy. Yet perhaps the most important area where development has gone completely awry, is the shift in cultural paradigm in the western world over recent decades.
Even if during the decades of Germany’s post-war reconstruction everything wasn’t perfect, nonetheless the vector of development was positive: There was an enormous desire to rebuild, and secondary virtues such as diligence and honesty—virtues later denigrated—fostered the General Welfare and promoted social cohesion. Our schools were still governed by the Humboldt educational ideal, namely that developing beauty of character within each student was at least one aspect of the goals of education. Classical culture in music, poetry, and the fine arts played an important role in all grades, but especially in our Gymnasia.
The fact that this has long not been the case, is due to many factors: the Frankfurt School’s deconstructive role regarding Classical music and poetry, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, the advent of “director’s theater,” the Brandt educational reforms, the ’68er movement, the counterculture, and pop culture in general. The end-result of all these influences is a cultural wasteland: shriveled hearts, bereft of all ability to experience profound intellectual emotion; and for many of our fellow men, a loss of the ability to judge, with any sense of justice and injustice supplanted by a striving to conform to popular opinion.
If Schiller, already in his own time—and even more concretely after he witnessed the failure of the French Revolution—had to ask: “How has it come to pass that we are still barbarians?”, then how much more urgently would he be posing that question, horror-filled, today? Unfortunately, yet another facet of our time demonstrates how right he was, that a society that has degenerated from a higher level to a lower one, is more despicable than one that is still striving to free itself from underdevelopment. In his Fifth Aesthetic Letter, Schiller writes:
“Through his actions, Man portrays himself—and what an awful form do we see depicted in our present-day drama! Here brutalization, there decadence: the two extremes of human corruption—and both united in one age of history!
“In the lower and more numerous classes, we see raw, lawless impulses, unleashed after all bands of civil order have been dissolved, rushing with ungovernable impetuosity toward bestial satiation…. Its rudder gone, our society, instead of speeding upwards into organic life, is relapsing back into the inorganic domain.
“On the other side, the civilized classes present us with an even more detestable spectacle of decadence and depravity of character, which disgusts us all the more because it feeds upon the culture itself. I no longer remember which ancient or modern philosopher remarked that the nobler person is all the more abhorrent in his self-destruction; but one will find this true in the moral realm as well. From the savage, run amok, there emerges a madman; from the disciple of art, a worthless nothing.”
In further letters, Schiller discusses how, in view of this situation, any improvement in the political domain can only come about through the ennoblement of individual man’s character—an insight which is equally true today as it was in his own time. But whence, asks Schiller, is this ennoblement to come, when the masses are desensitized, and the nation is in a state of barbarism? And in his Ninth Letter he arrives at the point “toward which I have been striving in all my previous remarks. This instrument is Classical art; these wellsprings open up to us in their immortal exemplars. Art, as well as science, is absolved from everything based on mere sense-experience and imposed by human convention, and both enjoy absolute immunity from the arbitrariness of men.”
The key to overcoming the present existential crisis therefore lies in affording people access to their own creativity, in rekindling within them the divine spark which brings their full human potential to fruition. Our task is thus to strengthen this faculty of the human spirit—a place where scientific discoveries are made, which is the same place where Classical art is born, and where musical and poetical ideas are developed according to the criteria of Classical composition. Whenever man discovers new universal scientific principles, or when the composer or poet harkens to the rules of Classical composition, or lawfully extends them, then the creativity of an inventive mind comes into complete harmony with the creatively self-developing physical universe.
And thus, if we wish to survive the present crisis, a renaissance of Classical culture will be the absolute prerequisite. Therefore the Schiller Institute, along with its cultural journal Ibykus, supports Lynn Yen’s initiative (see right), and calls upon all artists and friends of Classical art to become part of a worldwide movement which will continue to fight for this renaissance until we have banished the current Dark Age—just as the Golden Renaissance of the 15th Century banished the 14th-Century Dark Age, and as German Classicism overcame the destruction wrought by the Thirty Years War.
Open Letter from the Director of the Revival of Classical Culture
Friedrich Schiller once wrote: “it is through Beauty, that one proceeds to Freedom” He speaks not of mere physical beauty, but the deeper beauty of the mind, a mind rendered more beautiful through its ability to both perceive itself, and to articulate its inner, most noble aspirations. This is the gift and the right that we must give to young people all around the world, who are the future of humanity. We owe this to both them, and the poets, of all forms of Art and Science that gave us Classical culture, not as a set of rules, but rather of principles of thought, leading humanity to a better, more productive, happier life.
This May 13, 2012, at the Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, a concert was performed by master pianist Tian Jiang. Over 1700 students, parents and teachers from over 80 public schools in the New York City area, most of whom have never been inside of Carnegie Hall, and many who have never heard Classical music, participated in the joy that the mind experiences when the beauty of human emotion and human intellect become one. In a program of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Chopin, spanning almost two centuries in composition, and almost two and a half hours in performance, there were riveted silence, prolonged applause, and standing ovations from a crowd who the popular opinion of today deems “unable to comprehend or become interested in classical music”. Even two and three-year -old toddlers in the audience listened quietly in attention throughout the entire performance of Mozart’s Fantasy in C minor, Beethoven’s “Appassionata”, and Brahms “Handel Variations”.
In the aftermath of this concert, we received numerous letters from teachers, parents and students, asking for more of such opportunities for this sustenance for the mind and soul. We therefore considered: why not make true Dr. Martin Luther King’s desire and intent, as expressed in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech: “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.”
The Foundation for the Revival of Classical Culture is issuing a call to all Classical and Classically trained musicians around the world, to donate time and to participate together with us, in the performance and teaching of great Classical composition in the strictest of Platonic aesthetics, in the best of Schillerian sentiments, to the youth of the world. Let us, in all major cities of America and beyond, revive the practice of Classical Culture, for the betterment of mankind and for the love we bear our children and all children.— Lynn Yen
Executive Director, Foundation for the Revival of Classical Culture, New York
“The Classical Revolution”
What does one do when the state is corrupt, and the masses are apathetic? Where does change then actually come from? Friedrich Schiller provides a truly revealing insight: it can only happen through classical art.
“The Classical Revolution” features Helga Zepp-LaRouche (president of the Schiller Institute), tenor Raymond Björling (grandson of Jussi Björling), economist and statesman Lyndon LaRouche, Maestro Daniel Lipton, Harley Schlanger (vice president of the Schiller Institute in the U.S.), Norbert Brainin (1923-2005, first violinist of the Amadeus Quartet), and baritone William Warfield (1920-2002), in a discussion on the following topics:
* Launching the Renaissance
* Bel canto: The Art of Beautiful Singing
* The Magic of Music and Counterpoint
* The Rediscovery of Motivführung
* The Artists: Bringing Humanity Forward
* Behind the Notes
* A New Classical Renaissance for the World
“Fidelio” – Journal of Poetry, Science, and Statecraft (1991-2006) Read >>
Friends and Collaborators of the Schiller Institute
Musical Dialogue of Cultures
Concerts in the Verdi Tuning (A = 432 Hz)
“Musical Dialogue of Cultures” Concert in Berlin — June 25, 2016
In these dark times of terrorism, war and the dramatic refugee crises, it is essential to recall the superiority of human creativity over the forces of destruction. And what could better demonstrate this unique human capability than the great masterpieces of diverse civilizations? By recognizing the one in the many, and by placing what unites us above what separates us, we will be able to overcome the present profound civilizational crisis. In that spirit, the leitmotif of this concert is the dialogue of cultures.
The performers are members of the Camerata Geminiani, the Russian Children’s Choir of the Shostakovich Music School in Berlin-Lichtenberg, the Chinese Academic Chorus in Berlin, and the International Chorus of the Schiller Institute. The event is organized by the Network for International Cultural Exchange (NICE) and the Schiller Institute.
Schiller Institute Chorus
“Nänie” by F. Schiller & J. Brahms
The Schiller Institute performs Johannes Brahms’, “Nänie, Op. 82”, preceded by an introductory remark on Friedrich Schiller’s poem “Nänie” by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, demonstrating the necessity of the classical poetry and music as the only means by which the general public can discover the inner source of their own creativity.
Schiller Institute Choruses
Finding the Common Aims of Mankind Through Music
Founded with the mission to pursue the “common aims of mankind,” the Schiller Institute’s chorus project, which brings people together from all walks of life to share and present some of the most cherished pieces of classical music, has proven to be a powerful means to that end. Beginning in Manhattan in 2014, then quickly spreading to Boston, Houston, Virginia and the West Coast, our choruses, who practice and perform at the Verdi C=256 pitch, are building a reputation for their lively, rich, and spirited classical performances which include Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, the uniquely American African-American Spirituals, and more. The best part? We believe that everyone can sing, so come sing with us!
Schiller Institute Chorus
Mass in C Major, Op. 86 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Our Initiative for the Most Natural, Lawful Human Voice
In the past decades, the Schiller Institute has been the leading edge of the fight to realize Giuseppe Verdi’s wish to bring musical tuning back to where it was when the classical composers lived. The standard pitch gradually been raised to the point where it is practically one tone higher today than it was 200 years ago. Had Bach, Scarlatti, Mozart, Beethoven, Verdi and others wanted to have their works played one tone higher, they would have written them that way. In fact, the specific characteristics of the human singing voice and of the human body, as well as the proportions in nature and the universe suggest that there does exist a scientific tuning.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Schiller Institute launched an international petition to lower the standard pitch from an arbitrary a = 440-450Hz to an a = 432Hz, as called for by Giuseppe Verdi. The petition gathered signatures from thousands of the top classical singers of the day, including Luciano Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Renata Tebaldi, Placido Domingo, Mirella Freni, Monserrat Caballé, Kurt Moll, Birgit Nilsson, Carlo Bergonzi and Piero Cappuccilli, just to name a few. Defense of the classical tradition of “bel canto” singing was at the center of the campaign. As Giuseppe Verdi himself wrote in February 1884, he favored “a single pitch for the entire musical world”, adding that the lower tuning gives the sonority “something more noble, more full and majestic than the shrieks a high pitch could ever give.”
The campaign for Verdi’s “scientific tuning” led to an international music symposium in Casa Verdi/Milan on April 9, 1988, during which the difference between usual tuning of today and the natural Verdi tuning was conclusively demonstrated. It made clear that the principles of music and science cannot be separated, and also that changing the register shifts (passagio) creates a problem not only for the singing voice, but also for musical instruments.
Thus, the optimal resonance of the famous Stradivari violin “Il Cremonese” lies at C = 256Hz (a = 432Hz), as analyzed by the International Institute for Violin making in Cremona. Norbert Brainin, the first violin of the legendary Amadeus String Quartett, who supported the Schiller Institute campaign, demonstrated the contrast between the different concert pitches, including at a concert in Munich’s Max-Joseph-Saal in 1988. Brainin also conducted several master classes with the Schiller Institute in the 1990s on the subject of thorough composition and tuning.
Just recently the Schiller Institute campaign again inspired a number of important initiatives in Italy. In Roncole, Verdi’s birthplace, a yearly festival in the Verdi tuning began last year (www.nuovoverdianeum.it). And the grand-niece of Verdi, Gaia Maschi Verdi, brought her grand-uncle’s piano from the Barezzo House/Bussetto to Teatro Argentina in Rome on June 6, to remain there on exhibition until Dec. 31. This piano (Carol Otto, Berlin) is tuned at a = 432Hz. For more on the subject, see www.teatrodiroma.net/doc/4331/verdi-e-I-italia.
“The Classical Revolution: Return to Verdi-Tuning”
Demonstrations: A = 432 Hz vs. A = 440+Hz
Schiller Institute “Verdi-Tuning” Conference in Ticino/Tessin, Switzerland (May 29, 1996)
by Antonella Banaudi
Schiller Institute “Verdi-Tuning” Conference in Milan, Italy (April 9, 1988)
by Piero Cappuccilli
Schiller Institute “Verdi-Tuning” Conference in Munich, Germany (December 12, 1988)
by Nobert Brainin
Help Us Bring Forth Truth and Beauty
Our Historic Musical Performances (A = 432 Hz)