Composing the Sea

A Scene from Britten's Death in Venice It may seem strange to focus on Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice in talking about how he composed his seascapes; after all, he returned to the subject many times throughout his career – perhaps more than any other composer – and often treated it more directly than in [...]

Syberberg’s Parsifal: Wagner and Esotericism

Following on from my article on Barfield’s use of the Eternal Feminine, I want to examine Hans-Jürgen Syberbeg’s adaption of Richard Wagner’s opera Parsifal. This film is a masterful achievement on several fronts. Syberberg manages to draw out many elements implicit in the story, as well as reading into it some esoteric themes of his [...]

Owen Barfield’s ‘The Rose on the Ash-Heap’ and the Eternal Feminine

Owen Barfield was a member of the Oxford Inklings, alongside J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, a writer, poet, and devotee of Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy. He is seldom talked about except by academics, yet he had a great impact on the writing of his friends, and his own considerable creative efforts merit attention. His one unpublished [...]

The Will to Power

Nietzsche's Metaphysical Awakening What is the will to power? It is rather poorly understood in the popular imagination, if indeed it is understood at all, this idea so central to Nietzsche’s thought in the last phase of his life. The fact remains that, being at once so simple and so far-reaching that it could unify [...]

A Discussion on German Romanticism, the Psyche and the Nous, with Fr Alexander Tefft.

In reading about psychology and mental illness (specifically, in a book on the late romantic composer Gustav Mahler), some phenomena strike me as having a spiritual dimension to them: dissociation, for example. What is more, the focus of ‘object relations’ theory seems to me to relate as much to human relationships as to one’s relationship [...]

Gustav Mahler – Against Nihilism

Listening to Gustav Mahler’s ninth symphony recently, having heard a number of contemporary pieces utilising orchestral ‘sample libraries’, I was struck by just how clear and precise Mahler’s orchestration is, in a way I’d not fully appreciated before. It brought to mind the fact that, with all our technology and means of reproducing sounds in [...]