music of the spheres

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English[edit]

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Noun[edit]

music of the spheres (uncountable)

  1. (mythology) A continuous, glorious, harmonious set of sounds that are not audible to ordinary human beings, produced by the movement of the celestial bodies.
    • 1685, John Dryden, "To Mrs Anne Killigrew":
      For sure the milder planets did combine
      On thy auspicious horoscope to shine . . .
      And then, if ever, mortal ears
      Had heard the music of the spheres
    • 1726, Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, ch. 18 (The humours and dispositions of the Laputians):
      He said that, the people of their island had their ears adapted to hear "the music of the spheres . . .".
    • 1823, Lord George Gordon Byron, Don Juan, Canto the Fifteenth, LXXVII:
      Like that same mystic music of the spheres,
      Which no one hears, so loudly though it rings
    • 1915, Joseph Conrad, Victory: An Island Tale, ch. 1:
      Like most dreamers, to whom it is given sometimes to hear the music of the spheres, Heyst, the wanderer of the Archipelago, had a taste for silence.
    • 2006 March 12, Harvey Shapiro, "God Poem" in The Sights Along the Harbor (excerpt), New York Times (retrieved 17 Jan 2016):
      We once believed in the music of the spheres but now we hear silence—static and silence.
  2. (figuratively) Sublime, mysterious music.
    • 1996 Oct. 17, Judith Palmer, "Culture: EVENT The Incident ICA, London," Independent (UK) (retrieved 17 Jan 2016):
      A further wave of fluorescent balloons gently deflated, exhaling into miniature harmonicas to breathe an eerie music of the spheres.
    • 1997 Dec. 24, Stephen Holden, "Movie Review: Kundun," New York Times (retrieved 17 Jan 2016):
      As its imagery becomes more surreal and mystically abstract, Mr. Glass's ethereal electronic score, which suggests a Himalyan music of the spheres, gathers force and energy.
    • 2002 Sept. 19, Tim Page, "'Diabelli' Variations: Beethoven Heard the Cosmic in the Trivial," Washington Post (retrieved 17 Jan 2016):
      The last works of Beethoven—the Symphony No. 9, the "Missa Solemnis," the late string quartets, the final piano pieces and the variations—are music of the spheres, mercurial, mysterious and never to be entirely understood.

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