Composers in the Sidereal

Q&A and discussion on the meanings of the Zodiacal Constellations, Sun and Moon sign-meanings, etc.
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Jim Eshelman
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Composers in the Sidereal

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:24 pm

I just came across a letter I hadn't seen in decades - in the November 1962 issue of American Astrology, written by my old friend (I might possibly say mentor) Ferdinand Malenke. Ferde, a towering Aquarius-Leo, was a music instructor at a private school in Pennsylvania and a gifted Sidereal astrologer. He had the benefit of several years of correspondence with Fagan during the '60s and, when I was a teen, he offered whatever assistance he could. He wrote typical Aquarian missives, multiple tightly-typed pages, covered on both sides with data and thoughts, and generally made himself as useful an astrological pen-pal as one could want.

Ferde and I likely spent hundreds of hours typing massive article-length letters to each other, and reading and digesting those we got back. We only met once, in the summer after I moved to California and was living with Joan and Stanley Piszek, when Ferde came out from Pennsylvania for a few days to see ROSA headquarters and visit a friend. There was a very awkward (more than uncomfortable) misunderstanding and, as my life soon after branched in different directions, we permanently lost touch, which I regret. (I'm not sure, in the decades before email and the Internet, how we all managed to keep on keeping track of each other.)

Here follow his one published piece (as far as I know), a discussion of great composers according to the Sidereal zodiac.
Jim Eshelman
www.jeshelman.com

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Jim Eshelman
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Musical Survey

Post by Jim Eshelman » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:29 pm

Parker Ford, Pa.
July 4, 1962

Dear Madam:

The interesting list of music (sic!) composers in your August issue compiled by Mrs. Fairchild prompted me to begin a research project of my own, that is, a check list of composers in the sidereal zodiac. For such a list to yield any significant results in a statistical way, it is fairly obvious that we need many more names. The most recent birthdate in the "Astrological Column" was Debussy, the last death that of Sinding. What of Vaughn Williams, Bartok, Richard Strauss, Sebelius, Schonberg, Stravinsky, etc.? Would it be carping to suggest that certain composers in that column hardly merit serious consideration? Czerny is known only for his piano studies; Anton Rubinstein survives musically in a few piano pieces, of Paderewski the same may be said.

On a sidereal tabulation, Pisces does stand out as do Capricorn and Aquarius. CAPRICORN, it is true, has not produced as many composers as has Aquarius, but qualitatively the constellation makes up for this. In his article in the December, 1958 issue, Mr. Fagan mentions Mozart and Schubert as sons of this constellation. He mentions the economy in the use of notes characteristic of Capricorn. There seems also to be a refined melodic emphasis in addition to this economy of texture, their musical traits being shared by Mendelssohn. Other Capricornians are Frederic Delius, Alban Berg, Walter Piston, Jerome Kern, Victor Herbert, the latter two among the most distinguished melodists in light opera of "show" music.

Sidereal PISCES claims J.S. Back who most writers agree is a culmination, rather than a beginning. He had the "last word" - musically - of his era, just as did another (sidereal-tropical) Piscian, the great Max Reger (born March 19. 1873), who marks another culminating point in musical history. Other Piscians are Haydn, Bela Bartok, Rimsky-Korsakov who finished, revised, and polished so much music of another Piscian, Modeste Mussorgsky. Many feel he overdid it! Also, there are William Walton, Rachmaninoff, Vincent D'Indy, Albert Roussel, Ferde Grofe.

Among Sidereal AQUARIANS a master composer, Handel. There is also Chopin, probably the greatest composer for the piano. Individuality may be the keynote for Sidereal Aquarius, for the constellation includes Maurice Ravel, Arthur Honegger, Selim Palmgren (sometimes called "the Finnish Chopin"), Hector Villa-Lobos, Rossini, Corelli, Boccherini, Vieuxtemps, Smetana, Kurt Weill (composer of "The Threepenny Opera"), Marc Blitzstein, Leoncavallo, Samuel Barber. As an Aquarian musician, I have often tried to analyze my reactions to music by Aquarian composers. I find that while I may enjoy and admire their works, I cannot really love or be greatly moved by them. This is, of course (speaking in very broad terms), merely my own opinion!

ARIES is a musical "low" in the constellations. Brahms, Tschaikowsky, and Prokofieff - that that's about it. There are also Faure, Roger-Ducasse, Dame Ethel Smyth, Massenet, Leo Sowerby and Wallingford Riegger.

Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, both natives of sidereal TAURUS, are noted for the extreme eroticism of much of their music, as befits the constellation. Richness of texture seems to characterize Taurean music, such as that of Schumann, Edward Elgar, Erich W. Korngold, Eugene Goosens.

Stravinsky, who many consider the greatest living composer is a sidereal GEMINIAN, as are the remarkably gifted symphonists and conductor Gustav Mahler (born July 7, 1860), Ottorino Respighi (composer of the "Pines of Rome," etc.), Offenbach, Grief, Stephen Foster, Gounod, Gluck, Carl Orff, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Mr. Fagan states that Gemini is the least religious of the constellations, and it is noteworthy that, Mahler, Jewish by birth, baptized Catholic, tended to a certain free thought. But, as one writer points out, all his life he "sought God in the music he composed."

The sidereal CANCERIAN of greatest musical stature is doubtless Ernest Bloch (born July 24, 1880). Others are Glazounov, Ibert, Dohnanyi, and John Ireland (Aug. 10, 1879). Is the creative Sun stifled n the lunar home? Cancer, though noted for perseverance, may lack the constant concentration and application necessary for success as composer, but this may not go to the root of it at all.

Sidereal LEO gives us Anton Bruckner (b. September 4, 1824), "the blazing" and triumphant finales of his symphonies seeming to affirm the sign in no uncertain terms! Giacomo Meyerbeer also exemplifies the grandiose tendencies of the constellation in his operas, such as "The Huguenots" and "The Prophet." Arnold Schonberg, atonalist, who has strongly influenced other composers, inflated the orchestral apparatus in his cancata "Gurrelieder" but he gradually tended to the spare, tight style for which eh is better known. The two best known composers in this constellation are probably Debussy and Dvorak. There are also Darius Milhaud, Humperdinck (composer of "Hansel and Gretel"), Mrs. H.H.A. Beach, Charles Griffes (both American Composers), and Lili Boulanger (b. August 21, 1893), sister of the celebrated Nadia Boulanger. She (Lili) revealed tremendous promise as a composer but died at the age of twenty-four.

There are not many sidereal VIRGOANS of note, but quality is high. Ralph Vaughn-Williams, George Gershwin, Gustave Holst, composer of the astrological suite, "The Planets," Dimitri Shostakovitch, Giuseppe Verdi, and Camille Saint-Saens make up the list.

In sidereal LIBRA we find Vincenzo Bellini (composer of "Norma"), J. Strauss, Jr., Franz Liszt, and George Bizet. There are four significant American composers in this constellation, Aaron Copland, Howard Hanson, Sousa, and Charles Ives.

SCORPIO is an outstanding constellation for composers. Berlioz, Sibelius, Hindemith, Franck, are perhaps the best known. Others are Mascagni, Donizetti, de Falla, Toch, Webern, Britten.

SAGITTARIUS claims one giant, Beethoven. His love of nature, so characteristic of this constellation, is well known. This is also true of the American composer Edward MacDowell, who wrote a large number of compositions for piano descriptive of nature and its moods, such as "Woodland Sketches," "Sea Pieces," "New England Idyls," and others. Other Sagittarians are von Weber, Sinding, Kodaly, Peron (who wrote a large quantity of religious music), Poulenc, Scriabin, and Edgar Varese.

My list of composers in the constellations consists of approximately 160 names. Reducing this to those who seem - to me! - to be most significant, I retained 98 of them. (I may amend this on further investigation.) Results shows Pisces, 14; Sagittarius, 12; Scorpio, Aquarius, Gemini (tie), 10; Capricorn, Leo, Libra, 8; Virgo, 6; Taurus, 5; Aries, 4; Cancer, 3.

From a contemporary standpoint, it might be worthwhile to cite an article which appeared in the January 1951 issue of the "Etude" magazine. It states, "The most potent forces of the first half of the twentieth century were Claude Debussy, Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schonberg, Maurice Ravel, Richard Strauss, Paul Hindemith (Arturo Toscanini, conductor, b. March 25,1867). George Gershwin, Bela Bartok, Serge Prokofieff, and Jan Sibelius." It is clear, then, that it all depends from what standpoint we make our musical survey. An examination of contemporary creators would be most worth-while, but we can hardly forget the classicists in the process. It seems that a satisfactory tabulation must either be very narrow and restrictive or quite broad in scope.

Can "American Astrology" state the planetary positions for March 21, 1685 (O.S.), the probable date of J.S. Bach's birth? Tropical and/or Sidereal positions would be very greatly appreciated.

Very sincerely yours,
Ferdinand Malenke

P.S. It seems only fair to express my thanks for the wonderful series of articles "Solunars" by Cyril Fagan which reawakened an interest in Astrology at a time when Ifound nothing in it!

[American Astrology graciously provided the Bach planet positions from an Italian ephemeris for 1685.]
Jim Eshelman
www.jeshelman.com

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