Essays on Music Questions and Answers
by Theodor Wiesengrund

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Why are the arts important?

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Not too long ago at the graduation ceremony of a small, but prestigious liberal arts college, a United States Ambassador spoke to the graduates, telling them that she knew that many were going on to law school or medical school after their graduation.  But, she urged them to not forget why they had attended a liberal arts college:

"Continue to go to the symphony, continue to attend plays, continue to visit art exhibits because these are the things that feed the soul."

Music is the language of the soul; there is something about a musical melody that comes out from the heart of a person that reaches into the heart of another; it is a universal communication.  And, this sharing is what gives meaning and solace to people's lives.  Without the arts that nuture the spirit, life would be void of much beauty just as if there were no roses or azaleas or fruit trees that produce color and delicious tastes.

In his short story "Sonny's Blues," James Baldwin, who was himself a musician, writes,

But the man who creates the music is hearing something else, is dealing with the roar rising from the void and imposing order on it as it hits the air.  What is evoked in him, then, is of another order, more terrible because it has no words, and triumphant, too, for that same reason.  And his triumph, when he triumphs, is ours.

Music, literature drama, dance, art are all communication, a sharing of the human experience and the personal interpretations of this experience.  The arts are what give some spiritual meaning to the world.

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