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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Morning in the Church of Beethoven

Ludwig believed in God but hated organized religion--he found the balance in writing a mass that went wildly beyond (as was his custom) anything written before.  Witness the Benedictus, one of the most beautiful and "spiritual" ten minutes of music ever written, with a solo violin leading the way --representing the Holy Spirit.  A very late work written when the composer was truly deaf.  Yet he did not succumb to bitterness.  Oh, he also wrote the Ninth Symphony and the fabled five final string quartets in the same period. (My book and ebook on Beethoven here.)



1 comment:

Laurence Glavin said...

In preparation for a Boston Symphony Orchestra performance of the "Missa Solemnis" a few years ago (it was performed again during the most recent season. I had a little fun when I spotted some RC priests entering Symphony Hall at the same time I did. I asked if attending the concert relieved the faithful of the obligation to attend Mass the next day. They said no, probably because there would be no offering during the collection), James Levine was quoted by The Boston Globe as saying that the work was the greatest single composition in his experience, which covers almost ALL Western classical music! To be fair to J. S. Bach, his setting of the Ordinary of the Roman Catholic Mass is no slouch either. LvB and JSB met on equal terms when they both set out to write colossal sets of variations for the keyboard. Anthony Tommasini should have declared it a tie.