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Michelangelo, the Solitary Titan

As a small child, I was deeply interested in many things and one of my favourite ones was (and still is) figurative art.

Being much younger than my siblings, I was about four years old when I started to observe, with deep curiosity and great fascination, the illustrations in the volumes of Giulio Carlo Argan's Storia dell'Arte that my siblings studied in High School. As I learnt to read at a very early age (three years old) because I wanted to read the "Mickey Mouse magazine" by myself, my curiosity and my genuine love of knowledge that (happily) school never managed to kill lead me to read and learn all the informations about the artworks photographed in Argan's books: the titles, the dates and, most important of all, the name of the authors.

When I was nine I enjoyed a lot a series of short tales, taken from Giorgio Vasari's Vite dei più illustri pittori..., in my school text book: my favourite historical period was the High Renaissance and I dreamt to meet Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti and to be their apprentice.

Today, as it's Michelangelo's birthday, I remember in particular how, since my childhodd, I have always liked his proud and stubborn character, his guts in facing his influent and powerful patrons, from the Medici family to the terrible pope Julius II (Giuliano della Rovere), and also his hermit-like life style, refusing any luxury.

Michelangelo as Nicodemus, detail of The Deposition or Pietà Bandini, or The Florentine Pietà (c. 1547-1555), Florence, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.

When I was in High School, I discovered Michelangelo's tortured soul and I fell in love with his poetry; and it is this less celebrated talent of him that I wish to honour today, by posting a stunning live version of Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo op. 22, for tenor and piano (1940), composed and played by Benjamin Britten and sung by his lifelong professional and personal partner Peter Pears, during a concert in Japan, on 9th February 1956.

In the first video, we can enjoy the first four sonnets:

1. Sonetto XVI: Sì come nella penna e nell'inchiostro.

2. Sonetto XXXI: A che più debb'io mai l'intensa voglia.

3. Sonetto XXX: Veggio co' bei vostri occhi un dolce lume.

4. Sonetto LV: Tu sa' ch'io so, signior mie, che tu sai.

Let's enjoy the last three sonnets in the second video:

5. Sonetto XXXVIII: Rendete a gli occhi miei, o fonte o fiume.

6. Sonetto XXXII: S'un casto amor, s'una pietà superna.

7. Sonetto XXIV: Spirto ben nato, in cui si specchia e vede.

In 2024 it's the 460th anniversary of Michelangelo' death, but I prefer to celebrate his 549th birthday, so:

Happy Birthday, Solitary Titan!

Next weekend, I will update this homage by adding a drawing made by me.

When I was sixteen, during a boring lesson in High School, I drew Michelangelo's David and I offered my drawing to a schoolmate: I wonder if she still has my drawing, as my chemistry book she borrowed and she never returned.

I'm not sure I will have the time to do a very complex drawing next weekend, but I hope so.

Michelangelo Buonarroti (Caprese, 6th March 1475 - Rome, 18th February 1564)

Edward Benjamin Britten (Lowestoft, 22nd November 1913 - Aldeburgh, 4th December 1976)

Peter Neville Luard Pears (Farnham, 22nd June 1910 - Aldeburgh, 3rd April 1986)

(C) Vera da Pozzo, Italy is Mine (and It owes me a living)

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