Love, Feast or Serenade


“Love is only the name of the desire and search of the whole.”
Plato, Smyposion

A table with long white linens… a quiet moonlit night where the feast will soon begin and plenty of wine will be drunk. Mouths that will sing poems, talk about love and make you think a lot will bring their breath to us from 416 BC. From the house of Agathon to what Aristodemus heard, Plato's feastWe're going to look at ' and Leonard Bernstein's feelings.

FeastIt is undoubtedly Plato's highest intellectually and philosophically. It is one of the masterpieces of the Platonic corpus that brings together literature and poetry and philosophy in a unique way. Feast, as well as mainly ErosIt is important because it deals with the nature, purpose, and birth of love.

Plato's love feast is a feast that starts in the evening and lasts until late at night and even into the morning. symposiumIn , a spiritual feast is created in which speeches, hymns and poems are read, in which ideas are put forward, followed by a feast where drinks are drunk and food is eaten. Such were the Greek traditions of the time; long banquet tables, mornings full of wine and conversation woven with delicacy…deipnonIn the first part of the feast, called , the hands and feet of the guests were washed by the slaves, they lay on the couches and the food service was started. In such meetings, however long the dinner chapter lasted, it was not as important as the second chapter. After the bodily hungers were satisfied, the second chapter, which is more important, started and poems were sung, hymns were sung, and prayers were prayed to the gods, accompanied by drinking wine. While all this was happening, instrumental women would also play the musical instrument called flavta.

As I said at the beginning of my article, when Plato's friend Agathon's home in 416 BC, the award he received for the first tragedy he wrote is being celebrated. After this celebration, the feast night will continue with speeches on love by 7 different speakers. Among the guests, of course, is Socrates. Socrates himself who have the knowledge of',” who knows what he really is' expresses as one. Feast teaches us the 'platonic theory of love' in the words of Socrates.

Praise for love Erosit was a compliment. Phaedros, on the subject of love, something Plato would totally agree with, ErosIt says that a should be given the highest possible value, the highest praise should be directed. It puts forward two arguments in it. According to the first of these, eros is one of the first and oldest gods and constitutes the highest principle of the universe. According to Phaedros, who argues that there is not a single moment when this universal power, that is, love is not at work, from the beginning, love is the first principle that exists before everything and brings everything into being, the pleasant sweet desire. But more importantly, it is at the source of all kinds of lofty and noble deeds and activities with the power and desire it gives us.

Pausanias, on the other hand, says that eros is a completely different state. Perhaps he makes the closest interpretation to the present day. According to him, he argues that there must be two separate eros, that is, love, just as there are two separate Aphrodites, one of the daughter of Uranus and the other of Zeus and Dione, in a cosmic sense. It divides it into two types, one high and the other low love. He defines the part of love, which is really a complex thing and denotes as inferior, as the body and lust, and says it is based on the so-called exploitation of the loved one. True love, on the other hand, is higher or celestial love, and such love emerges as a pure form of love as opposed to love based on sexual desires. This love serves to elevate both the lover and the loved one spiritually, in terms of knowledge, meaning and value.

The crucial part of the feast happens when Socrates takes the stage. Socrates, who tends to move love out of the areas of physical satisfaction and sensory satisfaction, to the spiritual realm by establishing it over the identity of love and philosophy, passion and reason, beauty and science, first reveals the nature of love. For him, Eros is a spirit or daimon. In other words, he is not a god because gods are perfect and need nothing. For Socrates, who states that the competent is devoid of love, Eros is not human either. Located between gods and humans, Eros is a divine thing that "fills the gap and unites it in the whole" between the divine world and the human world. According to Socrates, Eros is not immortal, but in a sense it is something that does not die.

A dizzying table and thoughts on love also influenced Leonard Bernstein. It is truly a fascinating experience to see how the composer draws inspiration from a series of talks that praise the different genres of love – some of which we have mentioned above, but still read this magnificent piece in its entirety. Serenade (1954) is therefore a music endowed with sophistication. As with all of Bernstein's work, this work is eclectic and echoes Copland, Bartok and especially Stravinsky.

The 1950s were an inspiring time for Bernstein. In this period, Wonderful town (1953) Candid (1956) and West Side Story (1957) redefined the Broadway stage with the notes he created in his musicals. to the opera repertoire Trouble in Tahiti (1952) contributed with . And all this creative activity heavily fueled his international reputation as a conductor. Bernstein focused on two main compositions during this period of his life: the operetta-style musical. Candid and a new orchestral piece featuring solo violin. Completed in the summer of 1954, this violin concerto consists of five that fulfill two commitments. A Serenade in one episode It happened: The work was prepared as a belated commission for the Koussevitzky Foundation (1951) and was the promise of a piece for violin and orchestra for his friend, the famous violinist Isaac Stern. Bernstein composed in less than a year from late 1953 to August 1954. Serenade dedicated to the memory of his mentor Serge Koussevitzky and Koussevitzky's first wife, Natalie. The piece is mainly prepared for solo violin, harp, string orchestra and percussion.

Plato's dialogue is primarily concerned with the nature and purpose of love. The text is a Greek word that quite simply means a drinking party. at the symposium explores love through a series of speeches by some of the great Athenian thinkers praising Eros.

For the parallelism between Plato's dialogue and music, he says:

“Music, like dialogue, is a series of related expressions that praise love and often follows the Platonic form through the speakers at the banquet.” 

That is, each successive speaker takes as a starting point the virtues or shortcomings of the previous speaker's words. Bernstein completed this through a process called "melodic unification", the expansion or transformation of elements after previous movements.

Specifically, this concept of evolution and transformation relates to the opening theme presented by the solo violin: its intervals and contours are constantly resurfaced and examined from new angles and new contexts throughout the work. Therefore, Bernstein derived a model from Plato to relate the most fundamental elements of a large-scale work through a process in which variations are created by elaborating existing elements.

Serenade Score, Cover

Bernstein's serenadee, no doubt owes much to Igor Stravinsky (1927), Apollon Musagete (1928) Persephone (1933) and Orpheus(1947), his bold treatment and admiration of Greek archetypes and themes from Classical literature and mythology has been an inspiring area to look at among other artists. These themes later and still became a trend in all arts. Pablo Picasso and young choreographer George Balanchine are among those who are interested in Greek subjects. 

The artist had a small wish on the name of the work. In an interview with future biographer Humphrey Burton in 1986, Bernstein said the work "originally Symposium [but] I gave up on that title because people said it sounded too academic. I regret it now. I wish I had kept the title, if people knew what it was based on… One of Plato's shortest dialogues and the subject of love. Seven talks at a banquet, after-dinner talks so to speak. By Aristophanes, Agathon, Socrates and himself… it really is a piece of love. He expressed his work and its importance for himself.

Symposium and Serenade

On August 8, 1954, the day after completing his music, Bernstein wrote the following explanations for the listener to understand what each movement meant as a series of "guidelines":

I. Phædrus; pausanias (Lento; Allegro marcato). Phædrus opens the symposium with a lyrical speech, praising the god of love, Eros. (Fugato started with solo violin.) Pausanias continues by describing the duality of the lover versus the lover. This is expressed in a classical sonata-allegro based on the opening fugato material.
[The second theme of this sonata movement includes discontinuous note figures and dissonant intervals in the graceful solo violin section.]
II. Aristophanes (Allegretto). In this dialogue, Aristophanes invokes the fairy-tale mythology of love as the narrator of the bedtime story. The atmosphere is of quiet charm.
III. Eryximachus (Presto). The physician speaks of bodily harmony as a scientific model for the functioning of love patterns. This is an extremely short fugato-scherzo born from a mix of mystery and humor.
[This chapter is thematically canon of the previous movement. to Aristophanes contains the corresponding music ]
IV. Agathon (Adagio).Perhaps the most poignant speech of the dialogue, Agathon's panegyric is the part where she embraces all aspects of love's powers, charms, and functions. This part is a simple three part song.
V. Socrates; alcibiades (Molto tenuto; Allegro molto vivace).Socrates describes his visit to the seer Diotima by quoting his speech on the demonology of love. Love as a demon is Socrates' image for the depth of love; and seniority add to the didactic sense of sobriety in an otherwise pleasant and enjoyable after-dinner discussion. This is a slower introduction of more weight than any of the previous movements and serves as a highly developed copy of the middle section of the Agathon movement, thus suggesting a latent sonata form. However, Bernstein is concerned with creating a wild, Dionysian festivity atmosphere in the finale of his Serenade, but there are occasional hints of underlying anxiety. Bernstein writes, “The famous interruption of Alcabides and the drunken entertainment crew kicks off Allegro, an extended rondo whose soul ranges from agitation to jig-like dance music and joyous celebrations. If there is a jazz flair to the celebration, I hope it will be taken not as anachronistic Greek party music, but as the natural expression of a contemporary American composer imbued with the spirit of the timeless dinner party. ” and the famous interruption by the drunken crowd initiates Allegro, an extended rondo that ranges from agitation to jig-like dance music and joyous celebrations.

Despite this correlation between music and text, Bernstein biographer Humphrey Burton suggests that the composer introduced the Platonic connection later in the compositional process; symposium and Serenade comparison reveals differences in speakers' disposition and their underlying emotional character. For example, in Plato, Socrates had the most important and long speech, at Serenade Agathon's fourth movement contains the heaviest music.  

In the summer of 1954, in a letter to composer William Schuman, Bernstein wrote:I just finished Serenade... and it looks pretty darn good, at least on paper. Italian critics will hate it; but i love him so much. "Despite his serious intentions, Serenade It changes direction as much as it is illuminating. Biographer Burton observed that the work "can also be perceived as a portrait of Bernstein: majestic and noble in the first, childlike in the second, loud and playful in the third, serenely calm and gentle in the fourth, an apocalyptic prophet, and then, in the finale, an enticing iconoclast." . “

When love is transformed into art, it brings the other to its divine origin. This is the journey of the final transformation in eros. With the wish to increase the witnessing of the examples that started with music, painting, poetry and a temptation to reach the upper human being...

Platon,Şölen İşbank Cultural Publications 2019
1001 Classical Music You Must Hear Before You Die, Ceretta Publishing, 2008 p:658


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