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The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Selections Annotated and Explained by Malaspina Great Books Web Editor Russell McNeil PhD
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius:
Selections Annotated and Explained

Russell McNeil, PhD
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In 1862 the English literary critic and poet Matthew Arnold described Marcus Aurelius as "the most beautiful figure in history." The Stoicism of Aurelius is grounded in rationality and rests solidly on an ethical approach rooted in nature. Stoicism promises real happiness and joy in this life and a serenity that can never be soured by personal misfortune. This philosophy has universal appeal with practical implications on problems ranging from climate change and terrorism to the personal management of sickness, aging, depression and addiction. I truly believe that the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius has much to offer us now...(Click on book cover for more)

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Modern Music
Name:Jean Sibelius
Birth Year:1865
Death Year:1957
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The violinist, composer and conductor, Jean Sibelius, was a passionate nationalist whose works interpreted the spirit of Finland at the time the country broke away from Sweden and Russia. He studied in Helsinki, Berlin and Vienna. In 1897, the Finnish government granted him a state pension so he could devote all his time to composing. The early Finnish myths and folk tales had a strong influence on the themes he chose for his music. His last significant compositions appeared in 1925.

Sibelius wrote incidental music for Maeterlinck's Pellèas et Mèlisande and for Belshazzar's Feast, a play by Procope, with a Prelude and two suites from a score for Shakespeare's The Tempest. His well known Karelia Suite was derived from incidental music for a pageant. His popular Valse triste was originally written for Jaernefelt's play Death, and in fact accompanies a death-bed scene. Sibelius wrote seven symphonies, although an eighth was destroyed for reasons unknown. The first two symphonies enjoy particular popularity. Symphonic poems by Sibelius, usually inspired by ancient Finnish legends, include En Saga, the Lemminkaeinen Suite, of which the Swan of Tuonela and Lemminkaeinen's Return form a part, Pohjola's Daughter and Tapiola. Finlandia was adapted from music provided for Press Pension celebrations in 1899. His Concerto for the Violin, a technically more demanding work than he could have tackled himself, now has a place in standard solo violin repertoire. Chamber music by Sibelius includes a string quartet, Voces intimae, a sonatina for violin and a number of short pieces for violin and piano. [Adapted from Karadar]

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This web page is part of a biographical database on Great Ideas. These are living ideas that have shaped, defined and directed world culture for over 2,500 years. By definition the Great Ideas are radical. As such they are sometimes misread, or distorted by popular simplifications. Understanding a Great Idea demands personal engagement. Our selection of Great Ideas is drawn from literature and philosophy, science, art, music, theatre, and cinema. We also include biographies of pivotal historical and religious figures, as well as contributions from women and other historically under-represented minorities. The result is an integrated multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary database built upon the framework of the always controversial Great Books Core List published in 1940 by the late Great Books Pioneer Mortimer Adler (1902-2001). Most of the works on that list are available in the 60 volume Great Books of the Western World.

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