Music, said Saint Thomas Aquinas, can be defined as “the exaltation of the mind derived from things eternal bursting forth in sound”. Faced with the stresses and difficulties of the coronavirus outbreak, it should come as no surprise that so many people have found a response to the pandemic in music. Our bodies may be doing the right and responsible thing by remaining at home, but our minds are not so easily locked down. Things eternal still need to burst forth somehow, and in the face of Covid-19 music has become one of humankind’s most defiant public assertions that life must continue in harmony.

Nowhere has this musical expression of the will to survive been more inspiring than in Italy. A week ago a few Italians began to open their windows in the evening and venture out on their balconies to sing ( Neighbours opened their shutters and joined in. The music went vir...

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