Friday, January 27, 2006

God's Gift In Mozart

Today, the world celebrates the 250th year of birth of the German composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The following article by Zenit's Elizabeth Levs tells of how Pope Clement was impressed by the child prodigy. Obviously, God gave the world the gift of music in Mozart and even the Popes recognized this.

Mozart is one of Pope Benedict XVI's favorite classical composers and listens to his Mozart CD collections. He has been known to play a regimen of Mozart pieces on his baby grand.

ROME, JAN. 26, 2006 (Zenit.org).- As any good music aficionado knows, 2006 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Opera houses worldwide are featuring "Don Giovanni" and "Figaro," while Mozart biographies and boxed sets of concertos and sonatas proliferate in music stores. Even Rome was enchanted by this great composer and, indeed, the child prodigy from Salzburg was warmly received in the Eternal City during his brief sojourn here in 1770. Mozart is often associated with the Freemasons -- he joined the Masons of Vienna in 1784 -- and "The Magic Flute" is held by many scholars to be a Masonic opera.

The most important moments of his life, however, took place in the Catholic Church. Mozart was born on Jan. 26, 1756, and baptized Catholic with the name Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Theophilus. "Theophilus," which means "lover of God," was soon transformed into the more celebrated moniker "Amadeus." He married Costanza Weber in the Cathedral of Vienna, his children were baptized Catholic and he was given last rites by a Catholic priest. In this light, the visit to Rome must have held great meaning for the 14-year-old Catholic Mozart. Immediately upon entering the city through the splendid Piazza del Popolo, the young Mozart and his father Leopold made their way to St. Peter's Basilica. Thanks to Wolfgang's fine clothes and Leopold's clever strategies, the two were allowed through the Vatican gates.

It was Holy Week in Rome -- Holy Tuesday to be exact. Pope Clement XIV was busy serving meals to the poor gathered in the Vatican, shortly before celebrating Mass in the Sistine Chapel. The two Austrian musicians managed to find their way into the papal presence and then accompanied the court into the chapel. It was custom during Holy Week in the Sistine Chapel to sing the exceptionally beautiful piece of music known as the "Miserere," written a century earlier by Giorgio Allegri. The work, performed by two choirs of nine voices, was exclusive to the Sistine Chapel and could not be published, but was handed down from choirmaster to choirmaster.

The remarkable prodigy Wolfgang stunned everyone by returning to his lodgings and transcribing the music he had memorized during the liturgy. His proud father wrote to Wolfgang's mother Anna, "Perhaps you have heard of the famous 'Miserere,' whose publication is prohibited under pain of excommunication. Well, we have it. Wolfgang wrote it from memory." Word spread fast throughout Rome of the child who could memorize music after hearing it once. The news eventually reached the ears of the Pope. Far from excommunicating the boy, Pope Clement received Wolfgang several times in audience, conferring medals and titles on him.

The Mozarts visited Santa Maria Maggiore and the Quirinal Palace in the Pope's company. Like good pilgrims, they acquired relics, including a piece of the Holy Cross. And, although perhaps not as salubrious for the soul, during that July in Rome, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart learned how to play bocce ball.

More news here.

"God is ever before my eyes. I realize His omnipotence and I fear His anger, but I also recognize His love, His compassion and His tenderness toward His creatures. He will never forsake His own. If it is according to His will, so let it be according to mine. Thus all will be well, and I must be happy and contented." (Mozart's letter to his father in 1777:)

Sample some of Mozart's Sacred Music.

4 Comments:

Anonymous lover of inSpirited music said...

Where are the Mozarts of today? God is always recognizable in the art He inspires as is so painfully obvious in what He does not.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Saint Peter's helpers said...

lover of inspirited music, I must agree with you. God manifests Himself in Sacred Art and Mozart is certainly one of His chosen musicians. May St. Cecilia, patron of music, inspire the youth to express their faith in music and to be drawn to the faith by the gift of music.

God bless you.

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess we then know the source of inspiration for Rap, hard rock and even some of the absolutely lame excuses for hymns that are forced upon us. Others may choose Here I Am Lord. I will take Ave Maria.

6:45 AM  
Blogger Saint Peter's helpers said...

anonymous, I also prefer traditional hymns and fond of Gregorian Chant. I hope it find we will hear it more on Sunday liturgy.

Thanks for dropping by. God bless.

7:19 AM  

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