All I Need Is a Little Inspiration
New Year's resolutions can include anything from simple wishes ("I'm going to read more for fun!") to life-changing plans ("That's it - I'm starting my own business this year!"). How many times have we said "I have some really great ideas but, honestly, no motivation," or "Maybe I'll start tomorrow," and then tomorrow never comes? Maybe deep down we keep hoping for a Fairy Godmother to show up magically.
But this is real life, and no matter how we might wish it, a Hero isn't riding in on a white steed to do the work for us. We are all intelligent, creative and capable people who have everything it takes to be huge successes, everything, except, maybe, for that final push of inspiration.
I can't make you get that pen to paper, that phone call made, that proposal presented (because I'm not my dad; trust me on this one - you didn't stand a chance at being "unmotivated" with him around). What I can be is your 2022 cheerleader, and share some musical inspiration to start revving up your internal engines.
First, it's Steven Bryant's Ecstatic Fanfare. To me, it is the very definition of musical inspiration, while at the same time telling the listener, "It's going to be ok - you can do it," whatever that "it" may be. Here's the sparkling version we play on 99.5 WCRB with Colonel Larry Lang conducting the U.S. Air Force Band.
Here's another composer saying You. Can Do. It. John Williams's "Rey's Theme" from the soundtrack he wrote for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is music that tells you that it believes in you, (and maybe that's really all we need to hear).
And one more from John Williams. He was asked to write an official theme for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. If any piece of music captures inner hopes for success, Summon The Heroes surely is it. Here's John Williams conducting The Boston Pops Orchestra.
A couple of pieces now that work on your inner sense of impatience. First, consider Franz Schubert. He was a composer in his heart, but at his family's insistence, he taught in his father's school for a long time instead of striking out early on his dream career. He was a good example of why not taking that leap of faith and believing in himself kept him miserable and sad for so long. Schubert composed in his spare time but didn't make the move to full-time until he left teaching. Once he made the decision, though, his output flourished. Listen to the 2nd movement of his Piano Trio No. 2 and see if you get the same sense of impatience. This is the Vienna Piano Trio.
I'm adding "Winter" from Antonio Vivaldi's The Four Seasons into the inspirational mix. Yes, in this piece he's describing teeth chattering and feet stomping in the cold, but right from the opening notes I also hear, and feel, a sense of impatience. It's as if the music is there to help someone be pushed to make a decision about something. My favorite version of the piece is with violinist Gil Shaham and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
The king of all inspirational pieces, for me, is Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. It is often referred to as "The Fate Symphony" because Anton Schindler, Beethoven's secretary and biographer, claimed Beethoven himself described the opening eight notes as "The sound of fate knocking on your door." This is the first movement with Riccardo Muti conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra
And if you have over a half hour to watch, here’s the whole thing, with George Szell conducting Staatskapelle Dresden in 1961.
You don’t argue with Beethoven. You listen and get moving!
Coda: If Vivaldi, Schubert, Bryant, Williams, and Beethoven have you thinking that ”Hmm, maybe this is the year I’m going to get it done after all,” then let's turn the "maybe" into a "yes." Hero was from the soundtrack to the 1992 film The Bodyguard, starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. I remember stopping in my tracks when I heard the lyrics in Mariah Carey's hit version: "And then a hero comes along...and you'll finally see the truth, that a hero lies in YOU."
Time to be the Hero of your own life story. C'mon! Let's all do it! '22 - here we come!