Nirvana Sued For Use of “Upper Hell” Map

“Move over smiley face. Welcome to the Seventh Circle of Hell.

“Nineties grunge-rock band Nirvana, already embroiled in a long-running legal battle against fashion company Marc Jacobs over its ‘happy face’ t-shirt designs, now finds itself on the less happy end of a new copyright infringement lawsuit worthy of Dante’s trip through the underworld.

“The complaint, filed in federal court in Los Angeles [in April 2021], claims that Nirvana infringed an illustration first published in a 1949 English language translation of Dante’s Inferno. The drawing depicts Dante’s circles of Upper Hell and, like Nirvana’s smiley face logo, has been featured on the band’s merchandise for decades. [. . .]”   –Aaron Moss, “Foreign Works, US Rights: The 7th Circle of Copyright Hell?” on Copyright Lately (April 30, 2021)

The disputed image was featured on the B-side of Nirvana’s debut album Bleach (Sub Pop Records, 1989).

Contributed by Jared Brust (Florida State University ’21)

Louis Armstrong

sojourners-louis-armstrong-2016

“Jazz critic Gary Giddins chortles as he recounts the tale, pointing out that if these American Brahmins had simply deigned to take a train south from Boston to New York City, and stepped into the Roseland Ballroom on a Thursday night, they would have experienced the American Bach, Dante, and Shakespeare all rolled into one: Louis Armstrong.

“Born to a 15-year-old who sometimes worked as a prostitute, raised in a New Orleans neighborhood so violent it was known as ‘the Battlefield,’ sent to a juvenile detention facility at 11 for firing a gun into the street—his early years would surely put him on the pipeline to prison today.

“Had that occurred, the distinctly American music that Louis Armstrong created might never have happened. The American songbook, as we know it today, simply would not exist.” [. . .]    –Eboo Patel, SOJOURNERS, July, 2016.

Lil Nas X, “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”

The music video for Lil Nas X’s “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” has drawn many comparisons to Dante’s Inferno for its depiction of the singer’s descent to hell (and eventual lap dance of Satan). Here are a few quotes from media outlets:

“2021 is here, purgatory is (almost) over, and Lil Nas X is our Dante.”   –Halle Keifer for Vulture

“Artists have been imagining trips to hell for hundreds of years without anyone raising too much fuss, but then Dante wasn’t a gay black pop star. Also, as far as anyone knows, Dante didn’t promote the Divine Comedy by selling a limited-edition sneaker made with human blood, which is the approach Lil Nas X has been taking with ‘Montero.’ On Friday, news broke that Lil Nas X and MSCHF had collaborated on ‘Satan Shoes,’ a limited release of modified Nike Air Maxes decorated with pentagrams and a reference to Luke 10:18 (‘And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.’) They’re only making 666 individually numbered pairs of shoes, and each one is made with a drop of real human blood. Not surprisingly, Nike wants everyone to know they had nothing to do with any of this.”   –Matthew Dessem in Slate

“In the ‘Montero’ video, Lil Nas X journeys from Garden of Eden to Dante’s inferno by sliding down a stripper pole (truly, twigs is correct in calling it iconic) [. . .].”   –Meagan Fredette for W Magazine

Watch the video on YouTube (accessed April 14, 2021)

 

“Through Me To Everlasting Pain You Go”

through-me-to-everlasting-pain-you-go-2021

“A monumental mix of dark and epic classical music based on Dante’s Inferno from The Divine Comedy to accompany you in your journey through the circles of hell, including Ludwig Van Beethoven, Stravinsky and Penderecki.”    — Moontopmountain, 8tracks, 2013.

Two essays by Lorenzo Coveri on Dante reception

Matteo Berton per La Divina Commedia raccontata da Paolo Di Paolo, La Nuova frontiera Junior, 2015.

For Andersen: Il Mensile di Letteratura e Illustrazione per il Mondo dell’Infanzia, Lorenzo Coveri wrote “Dante700: di tutto un pop” March 25, 2021, with many references to Dante’s reception in 20th century Italian culture.

For Mentelocale, he wrote “Dantedì 2021. Cantare Dante, da Petrolini a De André, da Jovanotti a Fedez, tra rock e poesia,” March 25, 2021.

Cole Porter, “You’re The Top” (2009)

 

“you’re a rose/ you’re Inferno’s Dante/ you’re the nose/ on the great Durante”    –Cole Porter, Youtube, 2009.

“Dante, Inferno light up DeWine on new song”

“John Dante has a message for Gov. Mike DeWine.

“John Dante and the Inferno will debut a new song called ‘Hello Gov’ner’ on a live EP set for release on Friday.

“The EP will be accompanied by a video version that was shot at Nexus Sound Studio in Youngstown and will debut on YouTube.”   –Andy Gray, Tribune Chronicle, 2020

Read the full article here.

Scenes From the Mountain, a score for Purgatorio by Zachary Cheng (2020)

Scenes From the Mountain is a musical score for Purgatorio by Zachary Cheng (DeMatha Catholic High School ’21).

Of his composition, Cheng writes: “This small movement, which is only around six-and-a-half minutes long, was incredibly difficult to complete despite its length. I returned to it many times over quarantine though I could not seem to find any musical ideas that would stick with me. That changed for the better when I returned to the work in late August and decided to shift my approach. Instead of specifically cataloguing the tale of Dante, I decided to use music to describe the general environment of the Mountain of Purgatory. This ended up giving me more musical freedom. I also shifted the orchestration from a traditional orchestra towards something I am much more familiar with, that being the wind ensemble. The specific movement here encapsulates the base of the mountain (Canto I) up to just before the Valley of Princes (Canto VII).”

The score, with Cheng’s interlinear notes, are available to view here. Listen to it on Soundcloud.

The DeMatha Wind Ensemble (pictured) recorded a performance of Scenes from the Mountain in April 2021.

Many thanks to Zachary Cheng and his teacher, Mr. Homer Twigg of the Department of Theology at DeMatha Catholic High School, for permission to share the composition.

Cities and Memory’s Inferno Soundscapes (2020)

“To mark the 700th anniversary of Dante’s masterpiece The Divine Comedy, more than 80 artists from all over the world have created his vision of Hell through sound – this is the Cities and Memory Inferno.”   —Cities & Memory website (posted November 23, 2020)


Listen also to Cities and Memory‘s soundtrack to Giuseppe de Liguoro’s 1911 film L’Inferno, available on YouTube:

Riccardo Muti’s “Concert for Dante” in Rome (2020)

“As part of ongoing programs that commemorate the 700th anniversary of the death of celebrated Italian poet Dante Alighieri this year, Riccardo Muti leads a special “Concert for Dante” in Rome on Oct. 3…

muti-leads-concert-for-dante-in-rome-october-2-2020The program features several works and composers inspired by Dante’s masterwork The Divine Comedy, which portrays the poet’s journey through the afterlife traveling through the Inferno, Purgatory and ultimately arriving in Paradise. The Te Deum, which is recognized as one of the earliest surviving Christian hymns, is heard by the poet as he enters Purgatory. Verdi’s Laudi alla Vergine Maria, an a cappella choral work for female voices, incorporates text from a short prayer in Canto XXXIII of Paradise, the third part of The Divine Comedy. Composer Franz Liszt, who is represented on this program with his symphonic poem Les préludes, was a great admirer of Dante’s work and was also inspired to write the Dante Symphony, which Muti, Zell Music Director of the CSO, led in performance in 2017, and offers a glimpse into the theological and emotional world portrayed in The Divine Comedy. 

The celebrations to honor Dante, whom many recognize as the “Father of the Italian Language,” started several weeks ago on Sept. 5 when President Mattarella participated in a special ceremony at the poet’s tomb in Ravenna, Italy, where the Dante died in 1321.” []    —CSO Sounds & Stories, October 2, 2020

See more information on special Dante anniversary programs at Dante2021.