Handel-ing Happiness


I was driving this morning, and tired of the same old morning radio rhetoric, I picked up my iPhone, clicked the Ted app icon, and with touch of the screen I said “Inspire me!’. What came up was Daria van den Bercken: Why I take the piano on the road…and the air. Throughout this talk, it is Daria’s aim is to ignite the passion in others on the keyboard works of Handel. She did not have to sell me, I have loved Handel for many years.

As I drove and listened, her words talking about the emotion in the music. I listened with a presence that perhaps I had not experienced before. I had not previously noticed the variance in Handel, moving from happy to melancholy and returning to happy again so effortlessly. As I drove the rural roads, lost in the music and her words, I embraced how much the music matched the recent challenges and successes in my life. As I listened, she even said the words I was thinking….’melancholic.” I began to think of the study of ‘the art of happiness”, and how easy it would be if we could do it as Handel does in his music, moving from one movement to another, and being fully present in the music, as I was now, without judgement or fear, or absent of thinking too far forward, of being fully present. There is a great old poem that talks about Handel’s effect on the soul…

… But Handel’s harmony affects the soul,
To sooth by sweetness, or by force controul;
And with like sounds as tune the rolling spheres,
So tunes the mind, that ev’ry sense has ears.
When jaundice jealousy, and carking care,
Or tyrant pride, or homicide despair,
The soul as on a rack in torture keep,
Those monsters Handel’s music lulls to sleep.

an anonymous poem in The Gentleman’s Magazine (May 1740)

If you get a chance to listen to Daria, do. It’s a short piece well worth the listen.

http://www.ted.com/talks/daria_van_den_bercken_why_i_take_the_piano_on_the_road_and_in_the_air

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