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The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Selections Annotated and Explained by Malaspina Great Books Web Editor 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:Harry Somers - Canadian Series
Birth Year:1925
Death Year:1999
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Biography, Lectures, and Research Links: Malaspina Great Books - Harry Somers (1925-1999) Biography - Canadian Series

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Harry Somers was born in Toronto, Ontario, and showed an interest in music only in his early teens. He engaged in intensive piano studies, which were so productive that at the age of 16 he entered the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where he studied piano with Reginald Godden and Weldon Kilburn and composition with John Weinzweig, receiving scholarships in 1947 and 1949. In the late 40's, he went first to San Francisco to continue piano with E. Robert Schmitz, and then to Paris to study composition under Darius Milhaud (1949-50).

Somers was known not only for his great versatility but also for his tremendous productivity. His music includes works for orchestra, choir, voice, instrumental ensemble and piano, as well as for stage, film and television. His best-known work is the opera Louis Riel, commissioned for performance during Canada's Centennial Year, 1967, and performed with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Washington, D.C. during the U.S. Bicentennial celebrations.

Somers decribed his artistic development: "Over the years I've worked consistently on three different levels with three different approaches to composition. On one level my approach has been what I call 'community music' or 'music for use': For example music for amateurs and music for school use. On a second level I've created 'functional music,' in the specific sense: music for television, films and theatre, where the composition has to work in company with another medium and serve the demands of that medium. On a third level I have created without consideration for any limitations, sometimes completely experimentally, sometimes extending the line of a particular direction on which I had been working through a series of works.

In short, the first two levels relate directly to the environment and society, in the broad sense, in which I live at the moment, and in which I function as a craftsman; the third relates to a more restricted audience (though I'm not convinced it need be so) and my personal development as an artist." In 1971, Somers, who had become one of Canada's most internationally-known composers, was named a Companion of the Order of Canada. He had received honorary doctorates from the University of Ottawa (1975), the University of Toronto (1976) and York University (1975). Harry Somers passed away on March 9, 1999. [Adapted from Canadian Music Centre]

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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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