Inspired by the famous poem Invictus by British poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903) and dedicated to the brave men, women and children of the Ukraine, David Wahler’s new single Invictus sounds defiant, confident and reflective. The sad but beautiful melody instantly connects with the listener’s soul and the arrangements are tactful and elegant. But most importantly, beneath it all is a steadfast belief that someday pain and evil will end. Until then, to quote Henley: “I am the master of my fate / I am the captain of my soul.” It is a timely and hopeful message.
Listen to Invictus on HearNow!
David Wahler began his musical career at the age of 7 playing the piano “by ear”. Early years of summer music clinics and academies at various universities culminated in his studying piano performance at Lawrence University Conservatory of Music; Mannes College of Music in New York; and Berklee College of Music, Boston. David released his first album, Antiquus, in the spring of 2009. Then followed A Star Danced (2010), Secret Dream (2012) and Spiritus (2015). His album Mosaic was honored with Zone Music Award’s Best Relaxation/Meditation album of 2018 at the award concert in New Orleans in May of 2019. His two most recent albums are Two Hearts (2019) and Currents (2021). He will soon release his 10th studio album Collection which will contain Invictus. The other singles are Carried Away, Lost Coast and Noctorno.
Invictus starts with the sound of church bells. Their sound is quite somber. Even at this early stage, we get a taste of the Invictus theme. It is perhaps not a funeral, but not far from it either. Then we hear something that sounds like a harpsichord, playing delicate scales with classical inspirations. On top of that are Wahler’s expressive felt piano and a wonderful angelic synth. It is a match made in heaven. And the melody; wow, it is breathtakingly beautiful! But don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself:
Now it seems fitting to say a few words about William Ernest Henley. He was, according to Wikipedia, a poet, writer, critic and editor in late Victorian England. Though he wrote several books of poetry, Henley is remembered most often for his 1875 poem Invictus. When Henley was 16 years old, his left leg required amputation owing to complications arising from tuberculosis. Through the help of the surgeon Joseph Lister, his remaining leg was saved. While recovering, he was moved to write the verses that became the below poem. It is, according to scollars, “A memorable evocation of Victorian stoicism—the “stiff upper lip” of self-discipline and fortitude in adversity.” This is Invictus:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch off circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Reading the above poem, it is easy to understand why Wahler’s Invictus ends with trumpets. Heaven seems near as their joyous sound cuts through the air. I believe this is the “master of my fate / captain of my soul” moment. Armed with this newfound knowledge, a sense of invincibility guides us forward.
To me, one of the most interesting aspects of David Wahler’s Invictus is how it expresses something that words – even a poem by a master poet like Henley – cannot. Notice how he balances conflicting emotions; from sorrow, melancholy, misery to hope, longing and joy. To me, there is also an undercurrent of disbelief here, a comment on how we humans conjure hell on earth and transform this beautiful blue planet into a slaughterhouse for no good reason whatsoever.
It is also possible to enjoy Invictus without knowing anything about the famous poem, its background or the current conflict. You will still pick up on its sad yet determined atmosphere. That in itself is quite remarkable.
David Wahler’s Invictus is, in short, a magnificent piece that leaves no listener untouched! It is also a very promising single from this one-of-a-kind artist, which bodes well for the upcoming Collection. Invictus‘ beauty underlines the message; to remain courageous in the face of pain and unspeakable evil. That is still sadly a much-needed guiding star for many people in our world today – in Ukraine and too many other places.
For more information and music samples, see davidwahler.com
Invictus is now playing on New Age Stars Radio!