The Thanksgiving holiday makes us ponder what we are thankful for. Today is a trifecta of thankfulness. We have Luciano Pavarotti, possibly the greatest operatic tenor of the past generation. We have St. Thomas Aquinas who was not only a saint, but was probably the smartest intellect of the past millennium. And we have César Franck, perhaps the introduction to truly modern music.
Frank is considered the best organist in history, with the possibly exception of Bach. He developed the musical style of the tone poem, perfected by Maurice Ravel and Clause Debussy. This work was perhaps the starting point of that, where Frank took the poem from the Medieval philosopher and Church Father Aquinas, and turned a liturgy into something that transcends time. The title of the piece translates as the bread of angels, a feast for the soul. That has captured the imagination of the world - not only has this become one of the signature challenge performances for tenors, but it has been performed at funeral masses through the ages, including the funerals of brothers Robert and Edward Kennedy.
Me, I'm thankful for the wonders that surround us, for the legacy of Civilization.