Mozart's requiem

paulb
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Post by paulb » Sun Nov 12, 2006 8:05 pm

Sergeant Rock wrote:
paulb wrote: I do not have an answer as I've not had the opportunity to hear Beethoven's mass in the church.
It's the music that counts, not the building. Moses heard God on a mountain top. He didn't need four holy walls and a roof.

Sarge

No churches in Moses time. How true, no synagoges as yet.
But when we consider some of the great european cathedreals, the construction and architechture is breathtaking and holds one in awe.
Now these were built before Mozart's time, and now centuries later we bring in Mozart's masses under the roof, candle lit night ,mass, and you have the ingedients for something that might grip even the most ardent atheist. Though he may not 'confess' to any movement in his soul.

IOW a beautiful church can faciliate the emotive (spiritual for believers, the faithful) experience. A good french tube stereo does enough to bring me to a place of reverence. In awe as much for the words, the orchestra, as for the divine genius within Mozart, to write such music.
Most of the libretto is psalms and old church prayers, where Mozart INTENSIFIES the words by his musical genius. A genius that is to me, divine.
So a church is not necessary, though hopefully one day the church will embrace Mozart's great masses, 10+ cds worth, and I can experience the masses in the church setting, and less often on a stereo.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

paulb
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Post by paulb » Sun Nov 12, 2006 8:26 pm

Brendan wrote:
Sergeant Rock wrote:
Brendan wrote: If you listen to the mass and do not acheive unio mystica with the divine, transcending all worldly thoughts and being, then you haven't heard its full potential and purpose, IMHO.
By Mozart's time, Christian belief was in very short supply, and the composers of the great masses of the 19th century were, if not outright aetheists, not exactly Sunday-go-to-meetin' believers either. The orchestral/choral mass had moved out of the church and into the concert hall; it had ceased to be a merely religious event.

Does a believer get more out of it than a non-believer? I don't know how you could even begin to quantify and measure that. Still, I'd wager I experience a far greater emotional and spiritual connection to most religious music than Paul does...even though he's the pious one and I'm the unbeliever. How do I know that? Paul's expressed his views about religious music often enough, here and in other forums. Most of the music we consider great does nothing for him (his list of approved composers is very small). Ask him how much he enjoys any of the Bruckner Masses or the Te Deum. How often has he had a transcendent spiritual experience listening to Mahler's Resurrection or Brahm's Denn alles Fleisch es ist wie Gras? One doesn't have to be a Bible-thumping believer in order to experience the emotions common to our human condition; or feel the hope and despair we all share given our certain mortality.

Sarge
Perhaps not traditional Christians, but educated folk were certainly aware of the practice of religious contemplation, if not from Christianity then from the Greek philosophers that inspired the Enlightenment and such figures as Bruno and Ficinio, and were aware of at least the possibility of acheiving the unio mystica. Mozart himself was deeply influenced by Masonic mysticism. The way to express a lot of the mysticism fashionable for the time was through the more acceptable means of the appearance of an orthodox mass. Wagner tried to reinvent the whole thing with Germanic symbolism and mythology. Religious experience was obviously of the essence to composers.

But for those to whom the unio mystica is a fiction, delusion or mental health problem then they may not have learned how to pray and/or meditate and do not seek to do so. Cutting thmselves off from religious experience and spiritual prasctice (and it does require practice), they have little right to say they know what religious experience is or how it effects people who know it well and seek it regularly.

But that's how I came to "convert" to classical music - by taking up meditation, prayer and contemplation and listening in silence. To me, a piece works when I experience the "divinity" within, and lose myself completely.
WOW Brendan, you ceratinly have encapsulated ideas in sucha way as to even "blow my mind". Good to hear it expressed as you do.

"a time of silence" prior to listening to a work. I like that. maybe say 15 minutes of absolute silence, time , the clock, loses some of her power. Thus openinga passageway into the tmeless dimension of music.
Interesting, I'll have to try this, when time allows, that is when there is that rare moment when no one else is at home.

You mention Giordano Bruno, and Ficino. Which brought to mind a book on my shelf, yeras now, G Bruno And The Hermetic Tradition/Frances Yates/U Of Chicage Press/1964. Its dusted off and plan to read a few chapters.

Mozart was indeed very spiritual, there's no denying that.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

paulb
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Post by paulb » Sun Nov 12, 2006 8:39 pm

Sergeant Rock wrote:
Brendan wrote: If you listen to the mass and do not acheive unio mystica with the divine, transcending all worldly thoughts and being, then you haven't heard its full potential and purpose, IMHO.
By Mozart's time, Christian belief was in very short supply, and the composers of the great masses of the 19th century were, if not outright aetheists, not exactly Sunday-go-to-meetin' believers either. The orchestral/choral mass had moved out of the church and into the concert hall; it had ceased to be a merely religious event.


Sarge

Not sure which specific 19th century composers you have in mind. But I think its truthful to say that some romantic composers had less of a religious bent, and more towards agnostic ideas.

I'm guessing. But if to some degree true, may have something to do with my lack of emotional (spiritual) connection to most of the romantic tradition, particularily those composers that fall within 'the master", Beethoven's influence.

Now does Schnittke religious works seem appropriate for a church?
2nd sym, Pslams oF Repentance, Choir Concerto, Requiem.
Well now we arrive at the place where god meets the individual receptive to encounter god, that is , the soul. A church is not necessary, as they are indeed profound enough to carry beyond the plastic cd medium, and the electronis of a stereo.

Whereas these masses you refer to, by those "not your sunday goers", Beethoven's possibly?, many of these (Beethoven specificallyu, may not affect me even if ina Vienna Cathedreal with Choir.

IOW the music has to possess spiritual content for its effects to occur.
For some it may be that the romantics acrry this spirituality. For others it may be Schnittke's 2nd sym, or a Pettersson sym that hold s "the spiritual content", The Holy Grail.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

Teresa B
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Post by Teresa B » Mon Nov 13, 2006 7:10 am

Saphire wrote:Brendan & Teresa

I presume that Brendan is not saying that one has to be spiritally receptive to get any enjoyment out of a religious piece like a Mass. I understand his point to be that if you are spiritually prepared and receptive you will get more enjoyment than someone who is not. Teresa is arguing the opposite, I think, that religious attitude is immaterial to the degree of enjoyment of a religious piece.
What I am saying, if you read it again carefully, is different: that at the purely MUSICAL level a religious conviction need not make any difference to the amount of enjoyment. But a religious conviction will facilitate an additional but separate kind of enjoyment upon hearing the music, which enjoyment is akin to that being present at a service of which the music is representative.

I'll leave you good people to working out what the hell I'm taking about!

Cheers and best wishes.


Saphire
I think I understand what you mean--that there is a different type of religious "relationship" to this music if you are of the faith. I agree, different types of knowledge contribute to different experiences of anything, including music. In this case I'm still not so sure the musical experience can be separated from the spiritual to any degree.

My point is (and Brendan, this is why, respectfully, I still don't go along with your view that you must end up converted to have the "divine" experience of the music)--One does not need to be a believer in any traditional religion to experience a mystical sense of awe. The direct effect of sublime music on the mind (soul, if you will) of a receptive person may induce a sense of oneness, peace, awe--This feeling may be imbued with the specific associations of a particular religion in those who are already steeped in that religious tradition.

But where did the words of the Requiem come from? The human fear of death, desire for redemption, need to be comforted and to know there is peace. These words speak to all of us whether or not we are "believers" in the Christian religion. As for the music itself, it obviously needs no words to profoundly affect us. There's no reason to think one must be a convert--one must only be human and receptive!

Teresa
[/i]
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

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Sergeant Rock
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Post by Sergeant Rock » Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:04 am

paulb wrote:
Not sure which specific 19th century composers you have in mind. But I think its truthful to say that some romantic composers had less of a religious bent, and more towards agnostic ideas.
I was thinking specifically of the Verdi, Brahms and Berlioz Requiems: I believe Verdi was an aetheist. Brahms was brought up as a strict northern German Protestant but his adult beliefs were not orthodox. He deliberately left out any mention of Christ in the Deutsches Requiem, creating a non-liturgical choral piece. It's been quite awhile since I read a biography of Berlioz; I'm not sure about his religious beliefs but I would guess they weren't exactly kosher.
paulb wrote: IOW the music has to possess spiritual content for its effects to occur.
For some it may be that the romantics acrry this spirituality. For others it may be Schnittke's 2nd sym, or a Pettersson sym that hold s "the spiritual content", The Holy Grail.
There's the rub. How do you determine "spiritual content" in a piece of music? And why do you think that spiritual content was lacking in the music of the 19th century? Specifically, Paul, why do you hear this content in Pettersson but not in the Romantic Bruckner, for example? Bruckner was as pious as they come and unlike Pettersson he wrote actual "Christian" music: three masses; a requiem; the Te Deum; Psalms 112, 114, 150, and many motets. I think you could say, too, that his magnificent slow movements in the symphonies are as close to worship and prayer as secular music can come. You just need to open your ears and your soul, Paul :wink:

Contrary to Bruckner's obvious faith in a Christian god, which comes through loud and clear even in his symphonies, Pettersson's symphonies seems full of pain, doubt and anguish. I hear a resigned but heroic existential stoicism in the end, not faith in a better life to come. If Pettersson was, as you suggest, a true believer, I would think there would be far more joy in his music. I don't hear the "good news" about Christ in Pettersson's depressing output.

Sarge
Last edited by Sergeant Rock on Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:26 am, edited 3 times in total.
"My unpretending love's the B flat major by the old Budapest done"---John Berryman, Beethoven Triumphant

Sergeant Rock
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Post by Sergeant Rock » Mon Nov 13, 2006 10:17 am

paulb wrote: No churches in Moses time. How true, no synagoges as yet.
But when we consider some of the great european cathedreals, the construction and architechture is breathtaking and holds one in awe...IOW a beautiful church can faciliate the emotive (spiritual for believers, the faithful) experience.
It's not necessary for the spiritual experience, but yes, the right environment does affect our experience of the music. The best chamber music performance I ever saw was certainly enhanced by the place: the Quartetto Italiano in a small room in a baroque palace in Salzburg. The Mozart Requiem I heard in the Dreifaltigskeitkirche in Worms, the Rossini Stabat Mater in the Dom of Bremen, the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony in the Dom of Trier, yes, the architecture, the spiritual surroundings, and the awesome reverberant sound added something important to the experience.

Sarge
"My unpretending love's the B flat major by the old Budapest done"---John Berryman, Beethoven Triumphant

karlhenning
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Post by karlhenning » Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:24 am

Sergeant Rock wrote:There's the rub. How do you determine "spiritual content" in a piece of music? And why do you think that spiritual content was lacking in the music of the 19th century?
Excellent points, Sarge!

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
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http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
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paulb
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Post by paulb » Mon Nov 13, 2006 11:59 am

Sergeant Rock wrote:
paulb wrote:
Not sure which specific 19th century composers you have in mind. But I think its truthful to say that some romantic composers had less of a religious bent, and more towards agnostic ideas.
I was thinking specifically of the Verdi, Brahms and Berlioz Requiems: I believe Verdi was an aetheist. Brahms was brought up as a strict northern German Protestant but his adult beliefs were not orthodox. He deliberately left out any mention of Christ in the Deutsches Requiem, creating a non-liturgical choral piece. It's been quite awhile since I read a biography of Berlioz; I'm not sure about his religious beliefs but I would guess they weren't exactly kosher.
paulb wrote: IOW the music has to possess spiritual content for its effects to occur.
For some it may be that the romantics acrry this spirituality. For others it may be Schnittke's 2nd sym, or a Pettersson sym that hold s "the spiritual content", The Holy Grail.
There's the rub. How do you determine "spiritual content" in a piece of music? And why do you think that spiritual content was lacking in the music of the 19th century? Specifically, Paul, why do you hear this content in Pettersson but not in the Romantic Bruckner, for example? Bruckner was as pious as they come and unlike Pettersson he wrote actual "Christian" music: three masses; a requiem; the Te Deum; Psalms 112, 114, 150, and many motets. I think you could say, too, that his magnificent slow movements in the symphonies are as close to worship and prayer as secular music can come. You just need to open your ears and your soul, Paul :wink:

Contrary to Bruckner's obvious faith in a Christian god, which comes through loud and clear even in his symphonies, Pettersson's symphonies seems full of pain, doubt and anguish. I hear a resigned but heroic existential stoicism in the end, not faith in a better life to come. If Pettersson was, as you suggest, a true believer, I would think there would be far more joy in his music. I don't hear the "good news" about Christ in Pettersson's depressing output.

Sarge
Sarge as you know all religions have the orthodox and the heterodox sides to its faith.
Jesus was condemned by the orthodox jews of his day.
Carl Jung, though never a member of any organized church, was a believer, a christian.

I recall seeing a documentary on Brucker yrs ago, I believe he suffered from some mental ailment. I am wondering if his religious beliefs had something to do with this condition.
You mentiion Brahms did not include the mention of Jesus Christ.
It doesn't need to, but one would expect the name of Christ mentioned.
Thats not important to me, as the actual spiritual content of the music itself.

For me at least the romantic period is something of a curiosity, but never do I feel a spiritual power in the music. I use the 'a curiousity" in the sense of amusing, even interesting.
But I'd never consider most of the romantic, including all of Beethoven as spiritual.
The Brahms, Verdi, Berloiz, Brucker masses, requiems I might consider more religious, but but necessarily spiritual. Though i should say I've not heard any of these composers sacred works, nor much of their secular. But from what i have heard, to my ears its not spiritual. Not at all.

Pettersson and Schnittke for me represent spirituality of the very highest order.

Here we get into epistomology, the ideas of what constuites the spiritual dimension.
We are all going to have different opinions on what constuites our spiritual needs.
For some, bruckner may speak of spiritual things, others its Mozart. many consider Bach to be a high order of spirituality.
For me this indescriblable essence is revealed in the music of Pettersson and Schnittke.

Its not a question of what the majority believes, it all comes down to the individual as to what moves the depths of his being.
There's no right/wrong answer here.

Everyone on this board may claim "there is no spirituality in Schnittke or Pettersson's music...its just music and nothing more".
This consensus will not in any degree take away any of my appreciations of either composers music.
Its a rock solid faith.
In this sense i say that Nyugen heard "a voice from god" in his recent encounter with Schnittke.
Though he denies any such connection in his "overwhelming" experience, trust me, down below his everyday conscious, something was touched upon.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

karlhenning
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Post by karlhenning » Mon Nov 13, 2006 12:58 pm

paulb wrote:Pettersson and Schnittke for me represent spirituality of the very highest order.
This is paulb-speak for "I like the music a lot."

Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

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