European history has always fascinated me. I enjoy reading any history, really, for the insight is gives me into why people do what they do.
Why European history? Coincidence. My grandparents emigrated from central Europe, so all my young years I’d hear more about European history than, say, African or Asian history.
Will Durant is a historian I especially enjoy reading. He wrote many books, and his 1968 book, The Lessons of History, is one of my favorites. In 117 broad but incisive pages, he surveys thirteen general topics over the range of recorded history — topics like biology, religion, morals, economics and government.
He begins his essay about warfare by suggesting that war is one of the constants of history. “In the last 3,421 years of recorded history only 268 have seen no war.” Then he goes on to discuss what warfare accomplishes, and wonders Is it really necessary? Is it inevitable?
Yet while suggesting warfare is constant, Durant sees civilization always changing throughout history — sometimes and in some ways quickly, sometimes slowly. People act and respond with over-reactions, like a pendulum.
So history progresses bit by bit, repeating sequences of events and conditions, swinging between today’s excesses and those of previous generations. “Too much” begets “too little” begets “too much”. And on…
We can see hundreds of examples wherever we look. For instance, one generation’s strict ethical conduct will be followed by another favoring moral “looseness”, only to be followed by another returning to puritanical attitudes.
I believe that our human nature is likely to be the same for everyone everywhere. I’m not a trained historian, but I expect that studying the history of any era, in any region, will teach the same lessons about human nature.
Over the years, I’ve learned many lessons from studying history. Let me tell you one lesson, about wedding and party music.
Popular styles don’t last. No matter their timeless quality, their popularity comes and goes. Look at fashions in clothing, automobile styles, arts, entertainment, architecture, and food. Too much of something? Too little of another? Just wait a year or so, and the opposite will be popular again.
Same with music. People always have their favorites — some like what’s popular here and today, other’s prefer what was popular somewhere else or in previous generations.
At weddings or parties these days, you can hear music from Lady Gaga, Madonna, Stevie Wonder, The Beach Boys, Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Scott Joplin, John Philip Sousa, Richard Wagner, Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, or Pachelbel. See the sweep of styles?
Most weddings and parties will concentrate on one or two of these styles. Sometimes more. But I’ve learned that whatever styles people prefer, the music at their festivities helps them enjoy the celebrations. Whatever it is, the right music makes people feel good.
So when I help people plan music for their celebrations, I begin by asking about the mood they want and about their favorite musical styles. Chances are good that whatever mood they want, they’ll decide to include a few different popular styles, to entertain all their guests.
YOUR turn. Do you enjoy studying history, too? What does European history teach YOU?
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Meanwhile, the Magnolia Jazz Band entertains at weddings and parties throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. If you are ever nearby, you’ll love catching us in action, seeing and hearing us create a great mood.
How can I help you? Call 408-245-9120 or use Robbie@MagnoliaJazz.com. Planning a celebration? Ask about our availability.