Edward Willett

Go see Tafelmusik’s The Galileo Project…

…if you have the opportunity. We did, last night, and were blown away. The music, the playing, the images, and the text were all fantastic, and pretty much exactly in line with the things that interest me most: science and the arts, mingled together.

Tafelmusik is, of course, one of the world’s premiere period-instrument orchestras. The Galileo Project: Music of the Spheres features poetic narration, choreography, and music by Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel.

Here is a sample:

Most moving for me was a final quote from Galileo, taken from his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. Although I prefer the translation used in The Galileo Project itself, here is the passage taken from an online edition:

And when I run over the many and marvelous inventions men have discovered in the arts as in letters, and then reflect upon my own knowledge, I count myself little better than miserable. I am so far from being able to promise myself, not indeed the finding out of anything new, but even the learning of what has already been discovered, that I feel stupid and confused, and am goaded by despair. If I look at some excellent statue, I say within my heart: “When will you be able to remove the excess from a block of marble and reveal so lovely a figure hidden therein? When will you know how to mix different colors and spread them over a canvas or a wall and represent all visible objects by their means, like a Michelangelo, a Raphael, or a Titian?” Looking at what men have found out about arranging the musical intervals and forming precepts and rules in order to control them for the wonderful delight of the ear, when shall I be able to cease my amazement? What shall I say of so many and such diverse instruments? With what admiration the reading of excellent poets fills anyone who attentively studies the invention and interpretation of concepts And what shall I say of architecture? What of the art of navigation?

But surpassing all stupendous inventions, what sublimity of mind was his who dreamed of finding means to communicate his deepest thoughts to any other person, though distant by mighty intervals of place and time! Of talking with those who are in India; of speaking to those who are not yet born and will not he born for a thousand or ten thousand years; and with what facility, by the different arrangements of twenty characters upon a page!

You can see why, as a writer, that final passage resonated.

So, let me reiterate. If you have the opportunity, see The Galileo Project. And if you don’t have the opportunity…there’s a DVD version. We bought it. You should, too.

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply