Fans of The Wolf of Wall Street will recall the moment when a drugged up Donny Azov takes his eureka moment from pills and booze and yells “Steve Madden! STEVE MADDEN!” The rest, as they say, is history for Stratton Oakmont. But can you name the music that Scorsese threw on his soundtrack * as Donny floats past Jordan Belfort and into financial immortality, and many indictments?
If you said Henry Purcell What Power Art Thou?*, then you are spot on, dear reader. Purcell still remains England’s greatest composer and a brief acqaintance with his work will soon show you how and why. We at LSS are no musicologists. We’ll simply say you’ll see how his style bridges the seventeenth and eighteenth century, and leave you to the Wikipedia article* linked below. We want to hit another note, if you will pardon a little pun.
Purcell,who died young, lived his life at the moment when England probably became the most advanced nation in the world. He was born in the last year of the Republic, and lived through the Glorious Revolution and into the proper consolidation of a Parliamentary system. His contemporaries included Newton, Hooke, Wren and Boyle. It was an age of gathering belief in learning, reason and trade. When Shakespeare died in 1621 England was a monarchical tyranny (for those who don’t know, a monarch is a Dictator in funny clothes) When Purcell died in 1695 there was a free press, parliamentary votes, a sophisticated banking system and the beginnings of a consumer society. The new stock jobbers and gutter street journalists would have recognised Jordan, Donny and their crew as kindred spirits; amoral, restless, showy and money grabbing. The South Sea Bubble was just around the corner. If you want the sound of the Whig ascendancy and the start of the Enlightenment, Purcell is the perfect place to begin.
There’s another,deeper point. We at LSS are Whig fans ourselves. In our opinion national greatness comes from making the right reforms, encouraging science and the arts, and successful business. The French carried on with Royal dictatorship, court ceremony and long term decline, ending in a fearful revolution. But at some point, the God of History seems to single out one nation to carry forward progress. From 1689 England was that choice.
#wolfofwallstreet #henrypurcell #baroquemusic #enlightenment #parliament #gloriousrevolution