Saturday, September 24, 2011

The music master

Recently I have been impressed by Pope Benedict XVI and his knowledge about music. I had heard he was an accomplished pianist but I had not realized until recently how he lives and breathes music.

You can tell when someone lives and breathes music, not that you find this type too often, when the person brings music into the conversation for no reason at all.

The pope does this.

Above his a picture of him listening to music alertly.

About a year ago he competently discussed Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy" in comparison with Arvo Part's "Cecilie, virgine romana." Amazing that anyone even knows what the "Choral Fantasy" is, not to mention "Cecilie."

I found the pope's erudite comments on this great Web log, Ignatius Insight, where you read all kinds of stuff that never makes it into the mainstream media. The mainstream media have no interest in anyone's views on Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy," let alone Arvo Part.

Ha, ha! Looking at I.I. just now, I see this quote at the top: "But there is no excuse for being unaware of Aquinas." I guess I have some reading to do! I mean, I know St. Thomas Aquinas was a saint, and that he was a great thinker, but that is about it.

On the other hand I know about other stuff and you cannot know about everything, you know?

Unless you are Benedict XVI.

The I.I. Web log also discussed how on another occasion the pope got up on his pope-box (sorry, could not help that) and gave a wonderful speech about Mozart. He was in Italy for a performance of the Requiem and in his talk he knowledgeably discussed how the Italian composers of the time influenced Mozart. He also quoted Mozart's letters. I have read that the pope writes these speeches himself. He does not have anyone else writing them for him.

Amazing, this guy! And I applaud him also for taking on the sticky and problematic matter of reforming the music in the Catholic church which, face it, in the last few decades has pretty much descended into dreck. It is time someone showed leadership in this department.

Music is just so important.


  1. Honey Chile, there was plenty of dreck before the last few decades. A lot of really good stuff was banned because (in the Archbishop of Salzburg's words) it drew attention to itself. Even the saintly Bruckner ran into those troubles. He submitted a motet, written in modal style, to F. X. Witt's Cecelian Society. Witt looked at it, and sent it back with a 9th corrected to an octave. Bruckner, not an aggressive man, took his red pencil, corrected the octave back to a 9th and sent the piece back to Witt! Witt fancied himself a composer. What happened to his music? Oblivion. The Bruckner motets are still sung, but more in concert than in church.

  2. By wielding his red pencil on the correction, Bruckner turned out a Witt-less piece of music! HAHAHAHAAAAA