The name ‘Vista Lirica’ springs from Orpheus’ lyre and means ‘lyric view’ [Italian] – a perspective which embraces the unleashed emotionality of Nature as expressed through music and art.
This perspective swept through the Romantic Movement of the 19th century. High art in this period was the voice of revolution and social awareness. Today, while Renaissance art works are being restored, exposing their original vivid colors, Romantic music is often presented as something antiquated, ‘museumized’ and distant from our current experience.
Vista Lirica is primarily a chamber music ensemble. Drawing inspiration from the Nature-centric view of many Romantics luminaries – Beethoven, Schiller, Shelley, Schumann, Caspar Friedrich, Rilke, Ruskin, Brahms, Fauré, to name a few – Vista Lirica also collaborates with environmentalists and environmental organizations as well as contemporary composers who share this perspective.
The Romantic Ideal ~ Historical Perspective:
The Romantic movement was borne out of revolution: It was a response to the technological changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution — its factories and assembly lines. It was also a reflection of the French and American Revolutions which yielded individuality and self-expression. As individuals at this time experienced newly found freedom, the looming world of technology cast its shadow. The shadow brought with it a robotic uniformity that characterized factories and assembly lines – the offspring of industrialization. Artists felt the need to emphasize expression over structure, emotion over logic, spirituality over science and nature over the machine.
Two well-known examples of Romantic works; their place in the present time:
1. Ludwig van Beethoven’s Choral Symphony no. 9 (1824)/Friedrich Schiller’s Ode to Joy:
What happened to classical music in the 1960’s? Somehow all classical music became linked to the ‘establishment’. What was overlooked was that Romanticism and many of the ideals of the 1960’s are kindred in spirit. Beethoven was the quintessential longhaired idealistic revolutionary. And yet through pop culture, such as the song ‘Rollover Beethoven,’ he became a target of 1960’s unrest – thus he and all classical music were dismantled and disempowered. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and much of his music, delivers a vision of complete equality and liberation – as though it is an ongoing account of the storming of the Bastille . To quote Schiller’s text ‘Ode to Joy’, the 9th Symphony takes the listener to the große Wurf – the ecstatic abandonment to the higher powers — that directing humankind from imprisonment to a glimpse into divine, higher consciousness. This is music that was written to empower and liberate – oddly, two key terms of the 60’s.
A further line from Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’, the text of this symphony, seems prophetic:
Deine Zauber binden wieder,
was die Mode streng geteilt.
Your [God’s] magic reunites,
that which fashion [of generations] has sharply divided.
In this case, 1960’s fashion and trends divided Beethoven’s music and its message from a generation of young people whose ideals were, in essence, the same as the Romantics’. (Stanley Kubrick certainly recognized this psychic dilemma when he made ‘Clockwork Orange’.)
2. Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (1818):
In this novel, which most everyone knows in some permutation, Dr. Frankenstein’s scientific ambitions lead him into a ‘soulless’ place that was unimaginable only decades before 1818. His scientific intellect brings him to identify himself in the role of Creator — someone ‘outside’ and above the laws of the universe. From this false stance, he creates a monster that has a will of its own and runs a destructive path beyond what he can control. This is the perfect parable for today’s environmental crises: Similar to Dr. Frankenstein, 21st c. technological corporations have been poisoning the environment in the name of ‘advancement’ and have assumed the same apart-from-the-world position; ambition and avarice have run amok as did Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, threatening our planet’s health and existence.