Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ruminating on success


Recent adventures in classical amnesia took me back to the Third Symphony 'The Song of the Night' by Karol Szymanowski in the compelling recording by Antal Dorati and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. What is remarkable is not that Szymanowski set the poetry of the Sufi master Rumi, but that he set it in 1916. In the intervening century Szymanowski has failed to reach the audience he deserves, but Rumi has become a best seller. So using the criteria currently applied to classical music, Rumi has succeeded and Szymanowski has not. But is that really true? Here is Stephen Schwarz writing in The Other Islam
If Rumi is the best-selling poet in America today, in most English-language editions of his writings, Islam and metaphysics have been extracted like internal organs from his verse and it falls to the idiom of the gift card. A Jew of Christian who desires to attain the peace of the Sufi without entering into Islam will probably not gain much by attempting a Sufism lite, which is comparable to celebrity Kabbalah, any more than one would a tourist pilgrimage through Catholic cathedrals.
I took the header photo during last year's trip to Egypt at the shrine of the thirteenth century Sufi Shaykh Yusuf Abu al-Hajjaj in Luxor. The mosque was built over the remains of the pharaonic Temple of Luxor. When the famous Temple was excavated in the nineteenth century the mosque with its Sufi shrine was preserved perched high above the Temple, which can be seen in the background of my photo. Photo is (c) On An Overgrown Path 2013. Any other copyrighted material is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.

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