Monday, December 6, 2010

Bad archbishop

How cool is the church I go to? Cool enough so that the priest's message in the bulletin this week was all about Mozart's nemesis, Hieronymus Colloredo, pictured above in his robes.

It is interesting that back in the 1700s there were already people wanting Mass in the vernacular and there was already debate about church music. I do not know about Joseph II and his desire for simplicity. I do not think I would agree with him.

About Mozart's Church Sonatas, I am not so sure. I know those sonatas pretty well. And the thing is, they can rock the house! I normally side with Mozart on most things but I do not know how these sonatas would sound after the Epistle, I have to say that.

Darn, I cannot find exactly the Church Sonata I am looking for on YouTube but this one is a pretty good example of what I mean. There is just all this energy.

About Colloredo, I never did get a good feeling about him and I have to say, I do not like him better after reading this.

OK, enough opining. Here is what our priest, Father Secondo Casarotto, wrote in the bulletin. It is called "The Good Old Days." You almost never get to hear music history from a Catholic priest's perspective so now is your fleeting chance. Grab it, I say!

When Hieronymus Graf von Colloredo was elected prince-archbishop of Salzburg, he
wanted to reform the liturgy. Even before the Council of Trent, musicians had started to
introduce elaborate music in the liturgy. In 1567, shortly after the close of the Council of
Trent, a diocesan synod held in Dilingen, Germany, issued the following statement: "We
permit ancient and vernacular hymns, especially those which our praiseworthy German
forefathers employed in major feast days and we approve that they be retained in church
and in processions."
Masses, especially in cathedrals, became full of extraneous music that added great
length in their duration and church services were becoming more and more reminiscent of
concerts. In a pastoral letter, the new Archbishop demanded, among others, that Mass last
no longer than one hour. This did not go well with Amadeus Mozart, then organist of the
Cathedral of Salzburg, who had composed a series of 17 sonatas to be played after the
Epistle and were no longer permitted in the Catholic mass.
At the same time, Joseph II, emperor of Austria, was centralizing his authority and in
1781 ordered that all Austrian bishops not follow any order from outside his empire (i.e.
Rome). The following year he ordered the bishops to swear "fidelity and submission" to
him and not to the Pope. Over time, Joseph continued to formulate his own church laws,
including sacramental fees, issuing liturgical decrees, even regulating the music to
accompany the mass. In his desire for simplicity, he limited church decorations,
processions, mass times, pilgrimages, veneration of relics, etc.
In 1781 Joseph introduced a recommendation that the German language be used in lieu
of Latin during the celebration of the Mass. Even though the archbishop of Vienna
rejected Joseph's idea of a vernacular Catholic liturgy, a new Catholic hymnal was
published in 1783 that included several hymns in German.
Archbishop Colloredo sided with a group of bishops who wanted to form a German
National Church. At the same time he continued to restrict the mass to one hour, banning
instrumental pieces (which he eventually permitted in 1787). Although not under Joseph's
rule, Mozart felt the effects of the emperor's desire for reform. He continued to compose
some instrumental music for masses, a movement expanded by Johann M. Haydn who
wrote more than one hundred Graduals. Mozart eventually fell in disgrace with the
Archbishop and one day, while in Vienna, he was kicked out on the street by one of the
Colloredo's secretaries.

The secretary that kicked Mozart was Count Arco. I do not have to look that up.

It is funny, the immortality these clerics have achieved.


  1. I knew a woman who decided, in the tradition of devout Irish Catholic women, that her oldest son would be a priest. Oldest son had been a good altar boy and liked the pageantry of latin high mass. Vatican II came along, concurrent with oldest son's epiphany with classical music. Oldest son lost interest in the Catholic Church, but developed into a quite passable organist. Mother grew to hate him, and he grew to hate her for sabotaging his musical progress. It took oldest son many years to realize that his mother's attitude was that of many of the clergy: Music in church challenged the supremacy of the prelate, and, rather than being looked upon as the gift of God (God, incidentally, was supremely generous to the world by giving it Mozart), it was seen as Satanic in its seductive power, and they did all they could to keep music in church the property of the untalented.

    As people fashion deities to their beliefs and prejudies, they also fashion worship to their own wishes, and think that their way is the only way. But you know what? The greatness of a Mozart, or, for that matter, a Bach, Beethoven, Verdi or whoever, exists independently of the opinions of prelates, liturgy makers or Irish Catholic mothers. As long as the values of Western culture exist (admittedly another iffy proposition), the accomplishments of these small g gods will be there for those who take nourishment from them. And these secular miracles are not based on myth and blind faith.

    Besides, who would remember Colleredo except for his connection with Mozart?

  2. Prof G, why don't you stop with your stupid, athiest comments. Your very annoying and nobody cares what you think. We support this blogger and all good Catholics. And she's a music critic and your not.

  3. (Sound of sardonic laughter)