Skip to comments.Habemus Pianist: The Pope on Music
Posted on 05/06/2005 4:50:01 PM PDT by ELS
ope Benedict XVI is a pianist with a penchant for Mozart, which he is said to find more manageable than Brahms, given the limited amount of time he has to practice. (Until his election, he was one of the busiest cardinals in his role as chief interpreter and enforcer of doctrine.) His brother, a priest, was a church Kapellmeister. The Ratzinger boys were born in the part of Bavaria long under the influence of Salzburg, Mozart's birthplace.
As a theologian, he has occasionally revealed some of his thinking about music. When it comes to popular forms, he can be harsh. In his 2001 book "Introduction to the Spirit of the Liturgy," he called rock 'n' roll "an expression of base passions which, in large musical gatherings, has assumed cultlike characteristics or even becomes a counter-cult that is opposed to the Christian" worship. Pop music was a "cult of banality."
On the classical side, he played music critic in a message to Pope John Paul II on the 25th anniversary of John Paul's pontificate in 2003, when a concert in his honor by the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunkorchester included Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Addressing the 83-year-old pope, Cardinal Ratzinger described the symphony as echoing "the inner strife of the great maestro in the midst of the darkness of life, his passage, as it were, through dark nights in which none of the promised stars seemed any longer to shine in the heavens." But in the end, he said, "the clouds lift. The great drama of human existence that unfolds in the music is transformed into a hymn of joy."
Then he took a knock at Schiller, the poet of the "Ode to Joy," saying that his "true greatness blossomed" thanks only to Beethoven's music. Unlike Bach's "Christmas Oratorio" or the Passions, which contain "the intact presence of the faith," Schiller's ode is characterized by the era's humanism, "which places man at the center," he said with some disapproval. But Beethoven was a believer, he said, so the "good Father" of the ode is not just a supposition but an "ultimate certainty." After all, he pointed out, Beethoven composed the "Missa Solemnis."
Bach lovers will also be pleased by the new pope's taste. In the message, he called Bach "perhaps the greatest musical genius of all time." And in fact, as he was driven around St. Peter's Square after his installation last weekend, loudspeakers played Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor for organ. When he received dignitaries later in St. Peter's Basilica, the Hallelujah chorus filled the air. It was not known whether he had made the program choices.
Infallibility in matters of faith and morals aside, he's wrong about Rock 'n Roll. Nothing banal about Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hendrix or Clapton.
Well I agree with Pope Benedict. Most modern music has become an idol which people dance around. And the theme of rock and roll music is anti-war, anti-tradition, free love, and anti-Christian.
Hopefully, he's not into Wagner...
A blanket statement like that about an entire genre is so prone to error I can only be thankful I didn't make it.
Agree with him 100% regarding rock and roll.
"Bach lovers will also be pleased by the new pope's taste. In the message, he called Bach "perhaps the greatest musical genius of all time." And in fact, as he was driven around St. Peter's Square after his installation last weekend, loudspeakers played Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor for organ. When he received dignitaries later in St. Peter's Basilica, the Hallelujah chorus filled the air. It was not known whether he had made the program choices."
The way that paragraph reads, it appears that the reporter believes the "Hallelujah chorus" was composed by J.S. Bach. In fact, it is from Handel's "Messiah".
I keep thinking what a joy it could be to be a mouse in the room (preferably under the piano!) if Condoleeza and the new Pope ever get together with enough time to talk about and play piano.....
Well, he is a NYT reporter. If one wants to give him the benefit of the doubt then one could assume the editor cut out some stuff about Baroque music and Handel...
Dueling pianos? LOL!
Well, he can stick to religion, and I'll stick to music, and we'll both be happy. He probably wouldn't like Charlie Parker either.
Regrettably, the Cardinal is correct.
You'd be AMAZED at the number of very good Catholic folks who think the Cardinal is nuts on this topic--but he's not, and he can prove it.
Of course, one begins with an understanding of the term "art" and works forward from there.
Hint: it is NOT "Ars pro gratia artis" which is the underlying principle...
Harrumph. All true Germans love Wagner.
For that comment, you get to spend a few thousand years sleeping on a rock, surrounded by magical fire, until a beautiful blonde woman in a suit of armor awakens you with a kiss.
And if you do it again, my next punishment will be even worse. Be very afraid!
Of course, one begins with an understanding of the term "art" and works forward from there.
Hint: it is NOT "Ars pro gratia artis" which is the underlying principle..."
Regretably, you are incorrect. Art is whatever the HUMAN spirit finds it to be.
To quote Mel Brooks, "After the birth of the arts came the inevitable afterbirth of the critic."
Most certainly, and LOL
Imagine the joy of being in the presence of the Holy Father while the music of the spheres is lifting up your soul.
Indeed. That would really be something. Thanks for the ping!
Joanie, see especially response #11.
You said a mouthful there, DL!
Repent and be saved!
Right. The "human" principle.
Ignoring all of Western (and Hebrew) philosophy on the subject of art does not make you credible.
...the 4th movement of Mahler's 2nd--the In Paradisum of Faure's Requiem...the entire Durufle Requiem...the Sanctus from Mozart's Coronation Mass...the Gloria of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis...and every single note of each JSB Passion...
Not to mention all Gregorian Chant propers.
Uh huh. He has strong opinions on music, is the Supreme Pontiff and doesn't have any input on the music for his installation ceremonies. Yeah, right.
Of course, the Pope is correct in his assessment of rock-n-roll. It is the result of, and cause of, mental disorder.
Yup; has to do with syncopated rhythms having a deleterious effect on the brain.
Actually, it's the backbeat having a deleterious effect beneath the bellybutton.
Solar plexus disharmony?
Rock is like the Little Blue Pill of Sen. Dole fame--but it works the same way on both sexes.
That's BEFORE any "lyrics" enter the picture.
" Harrumph. All true Germans love Wagner."
And even some Greek/Irishmen!
"For that comment, you get to spend a few thousand years sleeping on a rock, surrounded by magical fire, until a beautiful blonde woman in a suit of armor awakens you with a kiss"
When I was a kid my Dad always listened to the Metropolitan Opera on the radio on Saturday afternoons; I still do occasionally. I remember those parts of the "season" when the Met did the whole Ring Cycle. I developed a great love for Wagner by the time I was 9 or 10, much to the horror of the Greek side of the family who manitained that nothing good ever came from the "Huns"!
I'll second that, in spades!
"(Minister of Membership, TomasTorquemadaGentlemen'sClub)"
Is there an Eastern Orthodox chapter of the club and is that where we were going to have that dinner with the B&B?
Not have the least idea what you are talking about undermines your credibilty a bit as well. A good deal of western philosophy on art is in quite good agreement with my position. It merely has the advanage of not being 2500 years old.
If you intend to represent that rock'n'roll is "art," you have a hell of a long proof to write, sonny.
The TTGC knows no bounds--our interest is in maintaining orthodoxy (Roman or Eastern, whatever.)
The TTGC, as a club, approaches ideal. There are no meetings; there are no formal, written agendas. There are no dues. There is only one requirement: the willingness to assist at TTGC gatherings (should there ever be one) for the purpose of conducting an auto-da-fe.
We already have a Grand Inquisitor, a Chief Equipment Engineer (and a good deal of equipment, modernized and refurbished) not to mention several full cords of wood.
TTGC also has the pleasure of having a dedicated Ladies' Auxiliary (they must wear hats); and the gentle Ladies will provide cucumber sandwiches, navigation, and Chace-related goods/services.
If you wish to start an (Eastern) Orthodox section, feel free.
Remember, though, that the TTGC, at some point in time, will begin formally petitioning Rome to elevate Tomas deTorquemada to the altar. We expect that ALL members in any Branch will not only concur with the thought, but actively support such elevation.
Since we are on a music-related thread, is there a plan for musical accompaniment?
Now that you brought it up, snares rolling to a tympani or orchestral bass drum every 8 beats (m.m. about 60) and a tolling bell would be sufficient, I think. You know, about the same as is used in military funeral marches...
If you think more elaborate stuff would be better, please let us know.
I'd say the Imperial Stormtrooper march from Star Wars, but we're the good guys.
I'll start signing up Orthodoxers tomorrow. We have a convert from those dreaded heretics in ECUSA who actually, personally, ran an auto da fe of his own "bishopess". He and his lady wife left for Orthodoxy soon thereafter. It seemed the politic thing to do. I tried to explain to him that he forgot to arrange for the last, most satisfying part of the whole process, but, having been a Prot at the time of the auto da fe, he was not well versed in the culminating high point of the proceeding.
BTW, I like the part about the hats! As for TT's elevation, fine with me; a word from the East might be of some small assistance.
TTGC and Auxiliary Members N.B.: we have another applicant.
Please submit your vote on his petition.
May I humbly suggest that we accompany the auto-da-fe with a performance of "Danny Deever" on the Bagpipes?
We can use all the help we can get.
Aye! Our differences with the Orthodox are not on disciplinary tactics.
Pope Benedict Without His Beloved Piano
April 29, 2005
Pope Benedict XVI, a fan of Mozart and Bach, is still without his piano because movers haven't been able to fit it through the windows of his papal apartment. The Italian news agency ANSA reports that the piano should have been moved in a couple of days ago, but attempts to carry it up the stairs and through the windows of his new quarters failed. They're thinking about dismantling the piano and reassembling it inside its new location. The Pope, who plays the piano to relax, reportedly used to irk his neighbors in Rome by playing Mozart, Bach and Palestrina a little too loudly. ANSA reports that the pontiff made a surprise visit to his old flat a day after his election especially to play his favorite music.
--Betsy O'Connor, KDFC News