Pisces is the twelfth and final sign of the Zodiac cycle. If the first sign, Aries, is the hard-won birth of new life, the sprout busting through the barely-thawed earth of Spring, then Pisces is the dissolution, the return to the vast universal ocean.
Its time is the deep of winter when the Northern hemisphere is asleep. In a world less relentlessly ambitious than ours, this would be a dream time — in fact it is
for all other mammals who, unlike us, spend this time hibernating! That realm of retreat and dream is the realm of Pisces, and it is what endows people born under this sign with the awareness that this world is not all there is, and that beyond it, all is one.
These are not easy awarenesses to live with. They come with a persistent longing for transcendence, which can lead Pisceans into deep spirituality, or addiction — or both.
Their awareness of the oneness of it all makes them the most emotionally sensitive of all the signs, as your suffering is their suffering. It is as though they are born without skin and, like sponges, absorb every emotional nuance in their midst — not in a paranoid way like Scorpio, but rather tending toward compassion. Pisceans often make great listeners, hearing with full understanding and without judgement. Being so porous, they are, in a sense, the world’s emotional witness bearers. And having seen it all, they often are great humourists. What’s more, their total empathy and mutable natures make them incredible mimics, able to embody another person almost down to the molecule. Next time someone has you in stitches with their spot-on imitations, find out if they’re a Pisces! Still, the ability to pick up on every emotional vibration in the room can make life very overwhelming. Differentiating one’s own feelings from those pouring in from other people is the chief challenge of being Pisces, along with finding a healthy way to achieve the transcendence and unity for which they yearn.
All of this makes music an ideal outlet for Pisces. Their deep well of emotional intelligence is put to perfect use in the language of sound, which then binds all within earshot in a version of the oneness which they know underlies all.
If you’re wondering what you can expect from Piscean composers, let’s start with the fact that it’s a water sign: Their music will be fluid! Just think of Frederic Chopin (March 1, 1810), with his way of making the piano glide as in a rich fountain of sound
. He moulded his instrument into an ivory author of astonishing nuance and sensitivity, nerves practically raw. His emotionality is unabashed, and what’s more, it is imbued with longing
, specifically for his homeland of Poland from which he was exiled, and which became a place of his dreams, imagined again and again through his music
Maurice Ravel (March 7, 1875) is another Pisces who demonstrates breathtaking fluidity. His melodies are like spools of sound that unwind in directions that may surprise, but which in retrospect always feel inevitable. What’s more, they touch on the transcendent, seeming to defy the laws of gravity, as in his his Piano Trio
, or in the Introduction and Allegro for Harp, Flute, Clarinet, and Strings
Another of Ravel’s gifts, and a particularly Piscean trait, was his ability to absorb and integrate any and every musical style he encountered. From the French style in which he grew up, to the Spanish influences of his Basque background, to the Jazz and Blues influence on his Piano Concerto, Ravel effortlessly united them all. Have a listen to this particularly astonishing infusion of the Javanese Gamelan into his Mother Goose Suite!
Another musical sponge was the baroque-era composer, Georg Philip Telemann (March 14, 1681). Not only did he draw from every national style on offer — Italian, French, German and Polish in particular, but even Russian
— he was a musical chameleon, having taught himself to play just about every instrument around! The result is not only a varied and inventive body of work, infused both with beauty and that famous Pisces wit (have a listen to his work on the comedic tale of Don Quixote
), but the added brilliance that all
instruments are used to their best advantage. For those of us playing them, this is a gift. Not every composer offers us the pleasure of the music “lying well” — that is, where the physical experience of playing feels as natural as the music itself. It’s a kind of empathy that makes us musicians feel well cared for by that now unjustly underrated composer!
Working at the same time as Telemann — and NOT underrated — was another famous Pisces, George Frederick Handel (February 23, 1685), He put his emotional intelligence to work as brilliant musical dramatist. Handel was one of the greatest and most prolific music theatre composers of his day. In his 42 operas and 29 oratorios, Handel channeled every nuance of human experience. Through gorgeously shaped melodies and vivid accompaniments, he spanned the full breadth of feeling from tired sorrow (Lascia ch’io pianga
) to desperate fury (Ombre pallide
) to happy anticipation (Tornami a vagheggiar
) — an emotional witness bearer indeed!