Saturday, September 5, 2020

Louis XVI, Death, and Vandalism

 

I have to censor myself a bit when things like the vandalism and resultant removal of the Louisville Louis XVI statue happen, because I don't want to get in trouble. But I think I can say this. The truth is that I tend to react to news of the deliberate damage or destruction of art, especially art that is specifically symbolic of my beliefs and interests, with a kind of instinctive visceral rage that I generally simply don't experience at news of deaths, even unjust ones, of people I had never heard of. Maybe this makes me a bad person, but it's how I honestly feel.

I'm sure this has a lot to do with the fact that I'm in the arts, though I don't think all musicians are like this. While I work in the performing, rather than the visual, arts, my respect for competent visual artists is such that it's not hard to see an attack on a beautiful (or even just technically proficient) statue as an expression of contempt for the labor of all artists and therefore on my vocation. The subject of the art in question does not have to be as close to my heart as Louis XVI is for me to feel that way: I'm obviously not a Buddhist, but the Taliban's 2001 destruction of the 6th century Bamyan Buddhas still horrifies me too.
 
But it's also about the fact that, whether we like it or not, death is inevitable for all human beings, whereas a statue or artwork or building can last indefinitely for multiple future generations if not deliberately destroyed. And with over seven billion people on the planet, no matter how empathetic we think we are (and I freely acknowledge that there are people more empathetic and humanitarian than I am) we simply cannot grieve for every death, even every publicized one, or we would do nothing else. There is a finite amount of man-made beauty in the world, but an apparently infinite number of idiots who do not appreciate it.
 
I am outraged as an American monarchist because there were very few statues of royalty in the USA to begin with and now one of the most notable ones has been so severely damaged that it probably cannot ever be safely displayed in public again. But even if a statue of King Louis XVI per se is not as important to you as it is to me, the arts in general (including sculpture) are essential to what make life worth living for those of us who are alive. And no cause can justify or excuse such wanton contempt for human creation, history, the integrity of public spaces, or the legacy of a kind and decent man to whom all who do believe in the United States of America owe their independence and who ultimately paid for agreeing to become the USA's first foreign ally with his life.
 

 
 
 

Monday, August 31, 2020

Frustrated

It is really hard for me when even someone who maintains one of my favourite royalty pages feels the need to explicitly declare publicly that they are not advocating the restoration of the [German] Monarchy and privately that it will never happen. I am so tired of being told that my dreams are impossible and that I should instead accept the the way things are. Never. The way things are is an abomination, the infestation of Europe with illegitimate republics a far more egregious monstrosity than any of the things normie conservatives whine about. I will NEVER accept the loss of the German monarchies. If that means that the overwhelming majority of actual Germans today are my enemies, so be it. I curse and condemn the illegitimate Federal Republic of Germany and want the world to know that I am its enemy. I condemn Angela Merkel and Frank-Walter Steinmeier and all German politicians for their treasonous arrogance in refusing to bow to their Kaiser and the rightful other kings and dukes and princes. I demand that Europe be put back mostly the way it was in 1914 (Finland, Poland, and the Baltics can keep their independence), with the Portuguese and French monarchies restored too. And I am sick and tired of "conservative" Christianity not taking a stand. Republicanism is the true sin that cries out to Heaven for vengeance, far worse than anything anyone has ever done with anybody in a bedroom. I demand royal restorations, and I want republican Europeans Left and Right to know that I despise them and their precious republican values. I spit on the German republican constitution and I spit on its Basic Law. There is only one true form of government for Germany or any other country that has had a monarchical tradition. In Europe, Switzerland and San Marino are the only legitimate republics. Death to republicanism. Monarchy yesterday, Monarchy today, Monarchy forever!!!



Friday, August 28, 2020

St. Louis 750 in St. Louis

On Tuesday I spent the 750th anniversary of the death of King St. Louis IX of France (also the 175th birthday of King Ludwig II of Bavaria) in St. Louis, the American city named for him founded in 1764. Here I am (in my “Vive le Roi!” shirt) at the famous statue (previously visited in 2015), “Apotheosis of Saint Louis.”


 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Archduke Trio

Last month for Fine Arts Chamber Players' 2020 Basically Beethoven Festival-in-Place I recorded Beethoven's "Archduke" Trio Op. 97, dedicated in 1811 to the musical Archduke Rudolf (1788-1831), youngest child of Emperor Leopold II. The video of the performance, which also includes the "Spring" Sonata Op. 24 and the "Heiliger dankgesang" movement of the Op. 132 Quartet, is now available online. I managed to work some monarchical context into my program notes video.








Archduke Rudolf of Austria (1788-1831)

Monday, June 29, 2020

Constantine and Christendom

Why is historically illiterate iconoclastic idiocy like this taken seriously at all? Because weak-willed lily-livered establishment nincompoops like that idiot Justin Welby ("some will have to come down"), who almost makes me ashamed to be an Anglican, give the radicals credibility they do not deserve. Not one monument of any church of the Church of England should come down. Not one. Certainly not this one, which I was thrilled to see in June 2015. Britain is not the USA and should not have allowed American insanity to gain ground there. Anyone who has a problem with traditional British heritage needs to not live in Britain, and make room for immigrants like me who would appreciate it. Decent patriotic British people whose heritage is under attack must not give one inch.

Update: apparently the Constantine statue is not actually under threat.


In general, classical Greek and Roman history is not my specialty. I respect it and those who are knowledgeable about it, but my passion is for the period between Charlemagne's coronation as (Holy) Roman Emperor (800) and the end of World War I (1918), which I like to call "Charles to Charles" (in the latter case referring to the last Emperor of Austria). Spanning 1118 years, that's quite a bit of history.

But Emperor Constantine the Great (272-337), who was proclaimed Emperor in 306 near the present site of York Minster and who is considered a Saint in the Orthodox Church (I bought an icon of him and his mother St. Helena at the Greek Festival a few years ago), is important to me, because if I'm honest I'd have to admit that without him, Christianity might not have ever become the sort of thing that a person like me would be interested in. I was drawn to Christianity more via the cultural patrimony of Christendom that his conversion made possible than via the Bible directly. So York's bronze statue, with its haunting echoes of the links between the old Roman Empire and the England that I love, is a particularly significant monument.

My June 2015 photo of the statue of Emperor Constantine at York Minster


Icon of Sts. Constantine & Helen purchased at the Dallas Greek Festival, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church

Beethoven and the Future



As I prepare to record some Beethoven chamber music, I'm honestly even more terrified of the long-term impact on my profession of the current ideological climate than of that of the pandemic, as bad as the latter is. I became a professional musician because I love music that happens to have been written primarily by European men prior to about 1945, with a few later exceptions. That's what speaks to me. And I refuse to apologize for that. My brother tells me that he saw an alleged musician say online somewhere that everything from before 1945 should be "cancelled." I'm not capable of responding to such malignant idiocy in a calm and reasonable way and do not believe that statements like that even deserve a serious response.

It is commendable for living composers to try to create tonal music that people will like. But I believe there is a reason, though not necessarily an insurmountable one, why most fans of classical music connect more with music by long-dead composers. The European society of the 18th and 19th centuries (despite the sinister interruption of the French Revolution) when most of what we now call the standard repertoire was written was basically a healthier society than ours. I see the modern world as a fundamentally sick society so am not surprised that it doesn’t produce much new of value. The circumstances conducive to the creation of “Great” secular instrumental music didn’t really exist before c. 1600 either, so there’s no guarantee that they always will. All I ask at this point is that we be allowed to hang on to as much of the past as we can, rather like tending the remnants of what used to be a roaring fire 🔥 so that it doesn’t entirely burn out.
 
Even when liberals (often under attack from those even further to their Left) defend the legacies of pre-20th-century European culture that they personally like, they tend to so in an apologetic way that implicitly concedes something like, "yes, of course they were wrong about a bunch of stuff back then and our modern secular democratic egalitarian values are totally superior, but there were still some worthwhile achievements we can benefit from." But that's not what I believe. I believe that the values of the European past, when most of the music I love was composed, were in many ways superior, and that's why the music, art, literature, and architecture were better. And for those problems that did exist, the proper solution was always reform, never revolution.





Sunday, June 28, 2020

Saint Louis Under Attack

The Apotheosis of Saint Louis (1906), St. Louis, Missouri

I'm going to have to be careful what I say about this, as it makes me very angry. I think it will suffice for now to say that while I am an Episcopalian, if I lived in St. Louis I would have been there in solidarity with the Catholic defenders of the statue yesterday. Monarchists in the USA don't exactly have a lot of public monuments we can relate to, and this one is probably the best, and closest to my heart since my 2015 visit. Saint Louis, pray for us!

Here is another article. I left the following comment on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Facebook page: "This diabolical campaign does not deserve any respect. King Saint Louis IX was a good man and a hero. I am an Episcopalian, but if I lived in St. Louis I would have been with the Catholics defending the statue. American monarchists like me have very few public monuments we can relate to and this one is the best and closest to my heart. This should not even be presented as a legitimate controversy. The statue's radical enemies seek only destruction and have nothing positive to contribute to society. How can anyone in St. Louis even contemplate the eradication of their city's French Catholic heritage and name? St. Louis had nothing to do with American racial problems and should not be associated with them. This movement displays gross historical ignorance and attempts to judge a 13th-century French king by modern politically correct standards. Virtually any medieval European Catholic would be considered "anti-Semitic" and "Islamophobic" by contemporary standards. That doesn't mean they can't or shouldn't be honored for the good things they did within the framework of the only society they knew. Shame on the St. Louis authorities for not making sure the statue was protected before yesterday."

Statement from the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

I just signed this petition and urge others to do the same. I've also ordered a miniature copy of the statue from the St. Louis Art Museum.