Listen to this beautiful recording of recently rediscovered Venezuelan classical music

Sonatas Venezolanas – music for violin and piano performed by Marjory Serrano-Coyer and Hsin-Yi Chen

This music, composed by Venezuelans in the second half of the 20th century shows how a culture that is simultaneously national and Christian ought to develop.

Sample and buy the recording at

This is a recently released recording of compositions for violin and piano composed by Ángel Sauce and Nelly Mele Lara, both of whom died in the 1990s. I was surprised to discover how recently they lived given that the style of their music evokes a much earlier age . My personal impression is of 19th century or early 20th century romantic music of the highest quality, combined with some elements of more contemporary classical composition, intermingled with a distinctive flavor that I couldn’t place and presumed to be the individual mark of each composer. The musicians tell us (in the video below) that there are uniquely Venezuelan elements in these works too, so perhaps that is what I am picking up on. I am no expert in music so I encourage you to listen and decide for yourself!

You can sample the music and buy the recording here:

The musicians, both of whom live in Virginia, are violinist Marjory Serrano-Coyer, who grew up Venezuela, and pianist Hsin-Yi Chen, who was born in Taiwan. Here they describe how the scores were discovered and the project to record this music for the first time was realised.

The wonderful music and great artistry in the performances are, of course, the best reason to buy this record. But there are lessons to be learned about the nature of Christian culture here too, I believe.

These pieces of music demonstrate how Christian culture simultaneously embodies universal principles of beauty and goodness, and bears the characteristics of a particular people, in this case the Venezuelans, and time. The basic structure is that of Western classical music (a form that developed uniquely in the Christian world and out of Christian sacred music). However, it also bears the mark of an organic development in style that has taken place since the Spanish first introduced these forms to Venezuela.

I argue that the Christianization of local cultures, which has produced these particular works, is a good thing. Authentic Christian cultures always incarnate the universal principles of the Christian faith which simultaneously, and uniquely, direct us to the common good. These principles encourage personal and societal flourishing and freedom by design, and from this there emerges also a pattern that characterizes a particular society or nation. And the mark of such a culture is its beauty.

This view of culture is not a fashionable one. Marxist ideology, which dominates cultural commentary in the West today, says the precise opposite – that any culture is good as long as it isn’t Christian – and is therefore directed to the destruction of the beauty of all aspects of Christian culture, such as that found in music, visual art and architecture. Christian culture, so the Marxists claim, reflects and upholds the values of the oppressor class which is the white patrimony, and so all trace of this should be erased. This highly stilted interpretation of Western history, which ignores the many moral contributions of the West, including human rights, rule of law, democratic governance and limited government, etc, nevertheless has a powerful hold 

over the intellectual classes, and especially those who dominate our universities, including the musical conservatories, art schools and literature departments. This is remarkable and disconcerting, to put it mildly. 

Venezuela is no longer the country it once was, and it is radically different even from the Venezuela of the 1990s. It has been all but destroyed by corrupt and evil Marxist forces. It is now barely a functioning state, and its people have been suffering to such a degree that the numbers of refugees from Venezuela that are flooding its neighbors are on a par with those that have fled Ukraine and Syria. Perhaps this music, which is emblematic in many ways of what used to be so good about Venezuela, can play some small part in sparking the national memory of what was so that the country can become something even better in the future. 

Saving any nation from Marxism is as much a task of evangelization as it is political. And beauty is one of the most powerful tools that Christians have in their work to achieve that transformation. 

You can sample the music and buy the recording here:

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