Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Today is the 60th anniversary of the devastation of Nagasaki, the second use of an atomic weapon in wartime. Like Hiroshima just three days earlier, this attack took an enormous civilian toll that cannot be justified and must never be repeated.

Unfortunately, on this day there is reason to believe that this could, and will happen again. On a day when decency and respect call for simple respect and observance of these vile events of the previous century and renewed efforts toward non-proliferation comes news of exactly the opposite as a matter of policy and more saber rattling on Iran. Not one word of observance of these significant anniversaries this week from the "wartime president." Not the slightest hint of comprehension of the importance of this matter. Instead we have reckless "leadership" that seeks to break international non-proliferation treaties, wage pre-emptive warfare, illegally sell nuclear materials to India and develop a new arsenal of "mini-nukes." The silenced voices from 1945 have never seemed louder.

Tonight I am listening to Requiem, Op. 5(1837) by Hector Berlioz (1803 -69). Some form of respect for the dead is required at this neglected occasion. Particularly from a composer who predates the "atomic age." Here my ears and sensibility find an expression of humanity and solemn respect that is both immediate and rare. This is a composition of enormous transcendent quality. The orchestration is suggestive with the wide intervals between the wind instruments and the frequent brass entrances that color the sonic fabric. It is a sacred work with enormous pull on even my own non-believing heart.

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