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Art, music and dance! — compelling partners of positive change.

Gotta dance! This beautifully rendered BBC video reminds us why.

An artistic soul who defines humanity with every photographic journey is Jimmy Nelson from The Netherlands.

See if you can keep up with him in this recent TED talk at a school in Switzerland about his becoming a changemaker, in his case by honoring disappearing tribes across our planet: The “Art” of Communication.

Jimmy was one of the original photographers for our journal, humanity, thirty years ago.

Jimmy Nelson, humanity’s witness

Forever, amid the chaos and the fury, we all need reminders of joy and enlightenment — be it a breeze with the aroma of spring or the entrancing color and flow of Renoir’s dancers at Bougival.

Auguste Renoir, 1883, La danse à Bougival, detail.
Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Speaking of dance and joy and creativity and inspiration, check out Ephrat Asherie Dance. With every step, they make the world a better place! “1960 What?“Odeon Trailer”

One’s life story cannot be told with complete veracity.

A true autobiography would have to be written in states of mind, emotions, heartbeats, smiles and tears  –  not in months and years, or physical events. Life is marked off in the soul, by feelings, not by dates.     

~ Helen Keller

At the mention of feelings, how can we not immediately offer Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th Symphony — with its timeless “Ode to Joy” — presented in this heaven-sent rendition by the Oslo Philharmoninc under Klaus Mäkelä. Here, too, is the story behind the music.

In fact, the grandest touchstone of humanity’s music is the orchestral symphony. This essay is how the BBC’s archives introduce the top twenty symphonies of all time:

“It’s a classic rags to riches story. From humble beginnings in the Baroque period the symphony has grown in size and influence, becoming a badge of honour among composers clamouring for recognition.

Haydn used symphonies as a vehicle of emotion, which intensified with Beethoven. To this day his symphonies are viewed as brilliant models of how music can express the most powerful of human feelings, in ways that even words can’t emulate. How did the symphony so rapidly become capable of this?

“The answer lies in how composers quickly developed a habit in their symphonies of pitting one theme against another, weighing the relative merits of each, then pulling their conclusions together. This closely mirrored the processes of debate and interaction used in human communication, and it struck a chord deep in audiences.

“But which of the thousands of symphonies written over the centuries is the greatest? To find out, we asked 151 of today’s leading conductors to name the three symphonies they consider to be the greatest.”

As for their top choice, here’s what they write:

1) Beethoven – Symphony No. 3 (1803) 

A trailblazing, mammoth masterpiece, glorifying the life of a great heroic figure

“The best symphony of all time has to be the Eroica.

“From those first two electrifying orchestral chords to the final victorious timpani flourishes it never puts a toe wrong. Architecturally it’s stunning. The whole thing is wrought from the brilliantly simple notion of a not-quite-finished tune (first heard on cellos) that continually strives for completion, and each time goes off in some fascinating new direction.

“Music that stirs, challenges and delights, a sense of vibrant musical form which ensures coherence yet remains elastic enough to admit the most acute human drama – surely that’s enough? But the Eroica also outlines what Jung what call an ‘archetypal’ pattern. Many of the world’s great myths tell of a hero/heroine who strives, fails, dies and then miraculously returns. There is, Jung would argue, a universal human truth contained in that story. Because Beethoven’s Eroica tells that story in music, not words, it presents that truth in its purest, most universal form. But you don’t have to know any of that to be thrilled by what Beethoven forged from it: by democratic consent, the greatest symphony ever composed.”

~ BBC Archives

We soon will be offering additional curated sections for motets, choral music, concertos, sonatas, and requiems. At the same time moving into jazz, rock, soul, rap, and all manner of indigenous music across the continents.

Migrants in a small, makeshift boat headed
from Sfax, Tunisia toward Italy.
(Fethi Belaid/AFP via Getty Images)

When human talent combines glorious architecture with sublime music, the result enlightens humanity. Have a personal tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral and then watch the world at Westminister Abbey honor a queen.

Bach’s Partida in D.