Monday, October 24, 2011

Benedict, Bruckner and beer

Remember a while ago when we talked about Pope Benedict XVI and his knowledge of music?

His Holiness is at it again!

Just the other day he listened to a performance of Beethoven's Ninth and Bruckner's "Te Deum." That is Bruckner up above in an old photograph I like. After listening to the piece Benedict got up and talked. Here is the transcript from the Vatican that was sent to me. I am lucky! Whenever anything happens in the Vatican someone buzzes me, I will have you know.

VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This evening in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Bavarian State Opera gave a concert in honour of Benedict XVI. The programme included the Ninth Symphony and the "Te Deum" by Anton Bruckner, played by the Bavarian State Orchestra and the "Audi Jugendchorakademie", conducted respectively by Kent Nagano and Martin Steidler.

At the end of the performance the Pope rose to thank the musicians. Listening to Bruckner's music, he said, "is like finding oneself in a great cathedral, surrounded by its imposing structures which arouse emotion and lift us to the heights. There is however an element that lies at the foundations of Bruckner's music, both the symphonic and the sacred: the simple, solid, genuine faith he conserved throughout his life".

"The great conductor Bruno Walter used to say that 'Mahler always sought after God, while Bruckner had found Him'. The symphony we have just heard has a very specific title: 'Dem lieben Gott' (To the Beloved God), almost as if he wished to dedicate and entrust the last and most mature fruit of his art to the One in Whom he had always believed, the One Who had become his only true interlocutor in the last stage of his life", the Holy Father said.

"Bruckner asked this beloved God to let him enter His mystery, ... to let him praise the Lord in heaven as he had on earth with his music. 'Te Deum laudamus, Te Dominum confitemur'; this great work we have just heard - written at one sitting then reworked over fifteen years as if reconsidering how better to thank and praise God - sums up the faith of this great musician", Pope Benedict concluded. "It is also a reminder for us to open our horizons and think of eternal life, not so as to escape the present, though burdened with problems and difficulties, but to experience it more intensely, bringing a little light, hope and love into the reality in which we live."

A pope who knows about Mahler and Bruckner and Bruno Walter, how cool is that?

I would love to sit down with him and music-minded friends like Norman Lebrecht and Prof. G who comments on this Web log, and others who care about this kind of thing. All of us with a couple of pitchers of beer and what a round table that would be.

Wow, I had better watch what I say. A long time ago, just fooling around on the Web log, I wrote that it would be fun to have a beer with Norman Lebrecht and lo and behold, it happened.

All of us having a beer with the Pope could happen!

Here is Bruckner's "Te Deum" with Jessye Norman and Samuel Ramey, the Chicago Symphony conducted by Daniel Barenboim.

Quite a piece. Bravo, performers!

Bravo, Pope Benedict!


  1. Wouldn't you like to hear this in St. Ann's Church...preceded by the Adagio from the Eighth Symphony?

  2. Can anyone quote what Bruno Walter said about Bruckner, to the effect that ..." I (Walter) did not understand Bruckner until I lay ill in bed; then all of a sudden I understood him" - words to tha effect?

  3. That sounds fascinating. I will look into that, Unknown!