“Much of my music is composed as a means to encourage others to think about the possibility of world peace.” Stanley Grill‘s four-piece composition expresses the ancient Jain, Hindu and Buddhist concept of ‘ahimsa’ — ‘non-harm’ in our relationship with the rest of the natural world — in his learning not only from great historic figures but from the example of his own grandfather.
We cannot bring harm to other living beings without bringing harm to ourselves — and that makes ‘ahimsa’ not just a concept related to the peaceful resolution of conflict between humans, but a concept about our place in all of nature.
Stanley Grill is a composer of music that attempts to translate something about the nature of the physical world or promote world peace, sparking positive thoughts and inspiring change.
Much of my music is composed as a means to encourage others to think about the possibility of world peace. During the pandemic, undistracted at home, I wrote a large number of works, one of which included AHIMSA — music inspired by that ancient Indian principle of living in harmony with all living beings. The concept is broader than what I believe most people understand ‘ahimsa’ to mean — it is not just non-violence. It is an understanding that all living creatures on earth are connected. We cannot bring harm to other living beings without bringing harm to ourselves — and that makes ahimsa not just a concept related to the peaceful resolution of conflict between humans, but a concept about our place in all of nature.
The music is in four movements. It begins with music inspired by the principles I learned at home from my grandfather, who as a teenager, fled Poland by himself, to make his way to America. His basic philosophy of life was that every person should strive to become the best person they can be, to realize their potential, but without ever imposing themselves on or harming others. The music then progresses to the great guiding lights — Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and John Lennon — all of whom died while in the pursuit of holding up the candle of ahimsa for all to see. It is hard to think of any who are their match today, but those with their intensity are sorely needed.
AHIMSA extensively uses quodlibets, a technique that’s been used by various composers since medieval times. I researched melodies that were known to Gandhi and Martin Luther King (and in Lennon’s case, several of his songs) and then wove fragments of the melodies into the counterpoint in their respective movements.
AHIMSA (2022) was recorded in the Czech Republic, with Marek Štilec leading the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice. You can listen to AHIMSA at Stanley’s own site — where you can explore more of his Music for Peace and Music for the Earth and his many other compositions — as well as on You Tube Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, and Tidal.
Stanley previously contributed Remember to our Creative Showcase; his collaboration with choreographer and dancer Mariko Endo serves as a reminder of who we are by nature — part and parcel of the earth and all of the life around us. You can find this here in our archive.