Sunday, October 28, 2007

On Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (VATICAN)



~Last night, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Choir performed for Pope Benedict XVI in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican. Here are some of the Pope's remarks (via Papa Ratzinger Forum)
"After years of self-isolation and retreat, during which he fought internal and external difficulties which brought him depression and profound bitterness, threatening to suffocate his artistic creativity, the composer - who was by now almost totally deaf - surprised the public in 1824 with a composition that broke with the traditional form of the symphony, and in a collaboration between orchestra, choir and soloists, rises to an extraordinary finale of optimism and joy."

"The overwhelming sense of joy transformed to music is not something light and superficial - it is a sentiment that was won with much effort," said the Pope.

The composer had learned a new way of hearing, he noted. "What comes to my mind is a mysterious statement by the prophet Isaiah who, speaking of the victory of truth and right, said: "On that day the deaf will hear the words of a book [that is, words that are simply written); liberated from darkness and shadows, the eyes of the blind will see" [cfr 29,18024). He is referring tothe perception received as a gift from God by whoever obtains the grace of an internal as well as external liberation."

In conclusion, the Pope recalled something that took place in the memorable year of 1989, when this same Orchestra and Choir, under the direction of Leonard Bernstein, celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall by playing Beethoven's 9th.

He observed that for that occasion, the choir changed the first word of the opening line in the 'Ode to Joy' from "Freude, schoener Goetterfunken" [Joy, beautiful spark of God") to "Freiheit...." (Freedom...), because "true joy is rooted in that freedom which only God can give."

"God," said the Pope, " - often in times of emptiness and internal isolation - wants to make us attentive and capable of sensing his silent presence not only 'under the starry skies' but even in the most intimate part of our soul. It is there that the spark of divine love burns which can liberate us into what we truly are."

Before performing the symphony, the musicians played Palestrina's motet "TU ES PETRUS', reportedly at the special request of the Pope.


Tom in Vegas said...

This Pope likes good music.

Say, is there any film footage of this event available anywhere that you know of?


Argent said...


This is where I like to find footage of Papa: BenedictXVITV. They're about a week behind. But if you bookmark it, you can keep checking for a clip.

I've checked with Vatican Radio and there's not link up. I'll keep looking and let you know.

Tom in Vegas said...

Thank you!!