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A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

Can you guess this piece? Here's a hint: a philosóphe on the loose!

In this operetta, the principal characters try everything to find happiness, only to finally resolve that the only real solution is to “tend your own garden” by living simply, productively, and hoping for the best. Up to this point, however, endless misfortunes result from the naïve philosopher who teaches that the worst possible disaster must be a blessing, given the essential goodness of God. Voltaire’s 1759 novel “Candide” was subtitled “Optimism,” and was intended as a savage parody of philosophical optimism of Voltaire’s time, particularly that of his contemporary Gottfried Leibniz. Even in the twentieth century, however, the story manages to retain its satirical edge. Perhaps this is because its targets (such as persecution, war-mongering, and shallow utopianism) have never really gone out of style.

Music Heard On This Episode

Leonard Bernstein: Overture
London Symphony Orch/Leonard Bernstein — Bernstein Conducts Candide (Deutsche Grammophon, 1997)
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Leonard Bernstein: Overture
London Symphony Orch/Leonard Bernstein — Bernstein Conducts Candide (Deutsche Grammophon, 1997)
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George Gershwin: An American in Paris
Hollywood Bowl Orch/John Mauceri — American classics (Philips, 1993)
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Joseph Haydn: Symphony 82: Finale
Heidelberg Symphony/Thomas Fey — Complete Symphonies No. 82, No. 88, No. 95 (Hanssler Classic, 2006)
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Frederic Chopin: Cello Sonata: Largo
Mischa Maisky, cello/Martha Argerich, piano — Maisky & Argerich Live in Japan (Deutsche Grammophon, 2001)
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Francois-Joseph Gossec: Symphony in D: Allegro
Tafelmusik Orch/Jeanne Lamon — Le Mozart Noir (CBC Records, 2003)
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Jean-Baptiste Lully: Armide: At last, he is in my power
Guillemette Laurens/Collegium Vocale/Chapelle Royale/Philippe Herreweghe — Les plus belles scènes de l'Opera baroque (Harmonia Mundi, 1998)
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Hector Berlioz: Ireland: Songs of War
John Aler/Thomas Allen/Cord Garben — Hector Berlioz: Melodies (Deutsche Grammophon, 1994)
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Vernon Duke and Yip Harburg: April in Paris
Count Basie and his Orchestra — April in Paris (Polygram Records, 1997)
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Christoph Gluck: Act II: Opening
Chamber Choir of Stuttgart/Tafelmusik/Freider Bernius — Orfeo ed Euridice (Vivarte, 1992)
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Philip Glass: The Beast's Pledge of Faith
Philip Glass Ens. — La Belle et la Bête (Nonesuch, 1995)
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Pyotr Tchaikovsky: 1812 Overture
Cincinnati Pops Orch/Erich Kunzel — Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture (Telarc, 2001)
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Edgar Varese: Ecuatorial
Kevin Deas/ASKO Ens/Riccardo Chailly — Complete Works (London, 1998)
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Cole Porter: You do something to me; The queen of Terre Haute
Soloists/Orchestra of New England/Evans Haile — Fifty Million Frenchmen (New World Records, 1992)
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