Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

“So under the spell of the reefer I discovered a new analytical way of listening to music. The unheard sounds came through, and each melodic line existed of itself, stood out clearly from all the rest, said its piece, and waited patiently for the other voices to speak. That night I found myself hearing not only in time, but in space as well. I not only entered the music but descended, like Dante, into its depths. And beneath the swiftness of the hot tempo there was a slower tempo and a cave and I entered it and looked around and heard an old woman singing a spiritual as full of Weltschmerz as flamenco, and beneath that lay a still lower level on which I saw a beautiful girl the color of ivory pleading in a voice like my mother’s as she stood before a group of slaveowners who bid for her naked body, and below that I found a lower level and a more rapid tempo and I heard someone shout:

“‘Brothers and sisters, my text this morning is the “Blackness of Blackness.” ’”   –Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

This extract is available to read at Penguin Books.

Monica LT, “Dante e Beatrice” (2018)

“Dante e Beatrice” is a pop song by Monica LT released in 2018.

Listen to “Dante e Beatrice” on Amazon, Apple Music, and Spotify.

Adam Zgol’s Purgatorio Score

Dante’s Purgatorio Through Music” showcases a piano composition by Adam Zgol (DeMatha High School ’21, Hyattsville, MD), created as an assignment for DeMatha ethics and theology instructor Homer Twigg’s unit on Purgatorio. The composition was presented at the Academic Symposium at Catholic University (Washington, D.C.) in Spring 2020.

The whole composition is available to listen to on Soundcloud.

We thank Adam Zgol and Homer Twigg for their permission to share these files.

The Grieco Brothers’ Inferno, the Musical (2020)

The Grieco Brothers‘ new musical, Inferno, is staged in the Caves at Pertosa-Auletta, in the province of Salerno. Of the brothers’ interest in representing the Inferno, Massimo Grieco says, “Nietzsche diceva che se si guarda per un tempo sufficiente nell’abisso, l’abisso guarderà dentro te. L’inferno è, per me, la migliore rappresentazione dei fantasmi che albergano dentro di noi. È il nostro abisso. Ed in questo senso, esaminare l’inferno è un viaggio di andata e ritorno dentro di sé. Se si è abbastanza equilibrati ed onesti, si accettano i propri abissi e si gestiscono. Solo così possiamo, ogni mattina, riaprire gli occhi, riuscire a riveder le stelle, considerato i giorni che stiamo attualmente vivendo.”  –Massimo Grieco, in an interview with Lorenzo Calafiore, “Da Itaca all’Inferno. Lorenzo Calafiore dialoga con i Grieco Brothers,” Insula europea (25 March 2020)

The Grotte di Pertosa-Auletta have also served as the backdrop to immersive, ambulatory performances by the troupe Tappeto Volante, directed by Domenico M. Corrado (see post here).

Journey Through Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell – Led by Sherman Irby

“Last week we introduced you to the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s Music of Wayne Shorter and indicated that we’d cover more releases from their label. This installment is a suite of seven movements composed and conducted by the JLCO’s lead alto saxophonist, Sherman Irby, Inferno was performed live in 2012 and captured on this recording. It’s Irby’s interpretation of Dante’s epic 14th-century poem of the same name, which follows the author on his imagined, harrowing journey through the nine circles of Hell. To say it’s incendiary (pardon the reference) completely understates the passion of these performances.

“At the heart of the piece is the horn who plays the central character, the late baritone saxophonist that Irby recalls fondly, ‘I wrote this act for Joe Temperley,’ Irby remarks. ‘He was the band’s elder statesman and musical guide for almost 30 years. It was my honor to feature his beautiful, passionate sound as the voice of the central character, Dante.’ This is not an unusual gesture as bandmate, trombonist Chris Crenshaw says, ‘Sherman cares for his brethren, and he cares about this music, and that goes a long way.’ Besides, featuring his bandmates liberally in solos, (Movement V has six of them for example), this music is intelligent, unique, moody and ultimately swings crazily.” [. . .]    –Jim Hynes, Glide Magazine, February 6, 2020

Contributed by Trey Turney (The Bolles School, ’22)

“The Convalescent” by Manic Street Preachers (2001)

Alberto Juanterino unique in his field
These are the things that, that make you feel
Klaus Kinski with love of Werner Herzog
Scream until the war is over[x2]
Srebrenica cousin of Treblinka
Scream until the war is over
War is over
And Dante’s Inferno slides into dysmorphia
So scream until the war is over” [. . .]

On their 2001 album Know Your Enemy, Manic Street Preachers‘ song “The Convalescent” contains the lyric “And Dante’s Inferno slides into dysmorphia” in verse three. (Manic Street Preachers, Epic, March 19, 2001)

Contributed Victoria Nicholls (The Bolles School, ’22)

“The Roommate from Hell” by MC Lars

In MC Lars’ 2006 album The Graduate, the song “The Roommate from Hell” contains lyric “when did room 56 become Dante’s Inferno?” (MC Lars, Horris Records, March 21, 2006)

Contributed by Victoria Nicholls (The Bolles School, ’22)

Franz Liszt, “Dante Sonata”

“Franz Liszt’s Dante Sonata, also known as the Fantasia Quasi Sonata, is a sonata written for piano solo (different than Liszt’s Dante Symphony). Written as program music during the Romantic period, there are nine different motifs used throughout the piece, representing the nine different levels of Hell. In addition, within the nine motifs, Liszt created two major themes or ideas, one in major and one in minor. The minor is said to represent the dark nature of Hell, and the major is said to represent Beatrice and Heaven.” –Contributor Ian Peiris

Listen to Mikhail Pletnev’s recording of the piece on YouTube (last accessed February 19, 2020). See also the previous post for Liszt’s Dante Symphony here.

Contributed by Ian Peiris (The Bolles School ’22)

“You’re the Top” by Ella Fitzgerald

In the 1956 studio album Ella Fitzgerald Covers the Cole Porter Song Book, Ella Fitzgerald covers “You’re the Top” from the 1934 musical Anything Goes, and in the last verse sings “You’re a rose, you’re Inferno’s Dante.”

Contributed by Victoria Nicholls (The Bolles School ’22)

Giovani Artisti per Dante 2018

“Dante: everybody’s or nobody’s, untouchable heritage or living culture? The Festival answers with Young Artists for Dante, the daily events in the Ancient Franciscan Cloisters by the poet’s Tomb, from June the 1st to July the 5th at 11 in the morning. There are students, actors, musicians, dancers; they are local artists and groups, or they answered to the international call for proposals, and stood out among the dozens applications. Week after week, they will reveal five points of view on Dante’s universe, at the crossroads between history and imagination, poetry and music, body and soul. In collaboration with the Municipality of Ravenna, Società Dante Alighieri, and Società Dantesca Italiana, and with the support of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Ravenna, hosting the events in the Cloisters it owns, the Festival offers Young Artists for Dante to the audience of citizens and visitors at the symbolic admission fee of 1 euro.

Dante: so superior to be out of reach, father of the Italian language, a pillar of literature of all times, all places; the author of a work that mirrors and contains the whole world, human and divine. But also Dante: in the language the Italians speak everyday, in the ideas, in the opinions; his profile is unmistakable, symbol of a culture that still conquers the heart and the imagination of people from any tradition, any country. The Festival that has made of the city’s history the keystone of its own identity – looks forward to the year 2021, the 7th centenary of Dante’s death, while it thinks and rethinks Dante – not far, but very close – with the third edition of Young Artists for Dante.”    —Ravenna Festival, May 25, 2018