Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Guido Cantelli

Music History Monday: This is What Heroism Looks Like

We mark the birth – on April 27, 1920, 100 years ago today – of the conductor Guido Cantelli, in Novara, Italy, some 30 miles west of Milan.  Perhaps the most overused words in our top-ten culture of superlatives are “genius” and “hero”. We’ll contemplate the word “genius” (and the folly of its current usage) at another time. For now, I’d ask that we consider the word “hero”. Heaven knows, given the state of our world just now, we need heroes more than ever: people we can look up to and be inspired by; people whose accomplishments and decency remind us all of how good we can be. But I also think that, perhaps, we require heroes too much and as a result we elevate many individuals of questionable heroic worth to that lofty status just, well, because we can. The word itself derives from the Greek ἥρως (hērōs), which means, literally “protector” or “defender”. Both “protector” and “defender” imply someone who would stand in harm’s way for some greater good. And that is indeed the operable definition of a hero or heroine: “someone who, in the face of danger, combats adversity; who performs great deeds or selfless acts for […]

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