SPIRITUAL READING (All ages)
The Bible. For cultural purposes, there are only two English Bibles: for the Protestants the King James Version and for Catholics the Douay-Rheims. Both are literary masterpieces as none other even remotely is. Since spiritual mysteries can only be communicated through poetry, whatever more modern versions may gain in accuracy is nothing compared to what is lost.
Bunyan, John. Pilgrim’s Progress—the Great Protestant Masterpiece. de Sales, St Francis. Introduction to the Devout Life—the best there is.
Avoiding extremes of difficult and light—neither Bach nor Debussy—the distinction between “great” and good is blurred. The student should listen to one work only for at least a week, going over and over the separate movements or acts until the repeated themes are recognized as they recur. It is better to know a very few works very well than to run over vast amounts. The following is a good order for neophytes:
Beethoven. Violin Concerto. Beethoven. Pastoral Symphony. Verdi. Rigoletto.
With an opera, read the entire libretto in English, then take only a single scene and play it through several times trying to follow the words in Italian (or French or German) with an understanding of their meaning. Having gone through the whole opera scene by scene, pick out great moments – arias, duets, etc. It is good to have two recordings, one of the complete work, another of the highlights.
Puccini. La Boheme Mozart. Clarinet Concerto or Oboe Concerto; Jupiter Symphony; Piano music (especially as played by Gieserking) Beethoven. Seventh Symphony. Brahms. Fourth Symphony. Chopin:. Selections.
(Most important: Students should attend live concerts).
The Kenneth Clark series Civilisation. Clark published a book with illustrations and the text of the series. And most important, visits to museums and galleries.
The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.
Dr. William Edmund Fahey is President of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire, and Publisher of Sophia Institute.