Merry Company on a Terrace, by Jan Steen, c. 1670. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1958.


Volume X, Number 4 | fall 2017


Born on Lesbos around 700 BC, Terpander, a master of the kithara, was summoned to Sparta during a period of civil strife—an oracle had suggested bringing the “Lesbian singer” to help—and organized the city-state’s earliest civic music culture. Immensely popular there, he later returned for what was to be his last performance. While he was playing, a fig thrown by an adoring fan went directly into his mouth. Terpander choked on the fruit and died.

Dance tunes are always right.

—Dylan Thomas, 1936