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Thread: Classical Music and the Catholic Church

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    Senior Member peeyaj's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Classical Music and the Catholic Church

    The Catholic Church has a profound influence on the development of classical music. It has been said that most of Renaissance music was written for the church. Some of the more famous classical composers composed music for the Catholic Church.

    I am thinking.. Is the Catholic Church holds some influence on classical music compositions on the 20th century? Who are some famous composers who are devoted to the Catholic Church? (Bruckner is one). What do you think of music written specifically for Catholicism?

    PS:

    Schubert manages that most supreme of feats, to be melancholy without being maudlin, his pain is not a mockery of pain but truly heartfelt, and he manages to pass that though with all of its complexities in his music.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peeyaj View Post
    The Catholic Church has a profound influence on the development of classical music. It has been said that most of Renaissance music was written for the church. Some of the more famous classical composers composed music for the Catholic Church.



    I am thinking.. Is the Catholic Church holds some influence on classical music compositions on the 20th century? Who are some famous composers who are devoted to the Catholic Church? (Bruckner is one). What do you think of music written specifically for Catholicism?

    PS:

    Well, Olivier Messiaen, organist, composer, and teacher, is the most obvious. Much of his music set explicitly religious texts or was inspired by religious-themed programs.

    Igor Stravinsky, although a Russian Orthodox rather than Roman Catholic, wrote a Catholic Mass with the express intent that it be used liturgically.

    Going back in time, Bach's B minor mass is a similar example of ecumenical composition, a Catholic mass written by a Lutheran.

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    Senior Member GreenMamba's Avatar
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    Henryk Gorecki was Catholic. I'm not sure about any of the other "holy minimalists" (Arvo Part isn't Roman Catholic).


    ADD: you asked "what do you think of this music?" I think if it's good, it should speak to people of other faiths, or none at all. But there was a long thread about that several months ago.

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    Senior Member Hausmusik's Avatar
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    Penderecki.
    A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. ― Leopold Stokowski

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    Olivier Messiaen, as already said, comes readily to mind.

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    Senior Member regenmusic's Avatar
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    Poulenc....there are a lot more but you have to read up on liturgical music. I think the music is usually very good. Many modern experiences of Catholic masses are at least thirty percent sung texts.

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    The Wikipedia site lists Beethoven as one who wrote Catholic sacred music, but when I look at the text of his Missa Solemnis I see nothing more than the formal Lutheran liturgy.
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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florestan View Post
    The Wikipedia site lists Beethoven as one who wrote Catholic sacred music, but when I look at the text of his Missa Solemnis I see nothing more than the formal Lutheran liturgy.
    The Missa Solemnis is usually described as a Roman Catholic mass in the usual five sections (Beethoven was a Catholic BTW). I believe the Lutheran mass is somewhat different, but don't know what the differences are.

    Bach's Mass in B minor is also a Catholic mass, although Bach was a Lutheran.


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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    The Missa Solemnis is usually described as a Roman Catholic mass in the usual five sections (Beethoven was a Catholic BTW). I believe the Lutheran mass is somewhat different, but don't know what the differences are.

    Bach's Mass in B minor is also a Catholic mass, although Bach was a Lutheran.
    Well the thing is that with the Reformation the Lutherans kept all the Catholic trappings that they felt were not contrary to their beliefs. But with others, such as Mozart, there are clearly Catholic elements that are not in the Lutheran liturgy. Also as far as I know, Beethoven never did an "Ava Maria," but oddly, Jewish(by birth)/Lutheran(by baptism)/Reformed(by later choice) Mendelssohn did.
    Last edited by SixFootScowl; Aug-24-2016 at 02:31.
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    Lutherans don't call their usual service a Mass but I believe the constituent parts are similar. As far as I'm aware, the differences tend to be found in wordings/translations rather than in the overall form of the service.

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    First of all we should admit and think that the entire tradition of classical music is closely related and influenced by the way of thinking and this way of thinking was deeply based in Christianity. People /composers whoever they might were believers or atheists were affected through their upbringing, the entire atmosphere by christian way of thinking. I don't want to say that all symphonies , operas , etc we listen to are interconnected with religious roots. No. But western culture is raised mainly on Christianity, therefore through culture people are affected being aware of it or not.

    If we think a bit deeper about it and compare western musical tradition with other traditions , we'll see very clearly how different they are, how the very way of thinking influences music structure, musical keys, performances, etc

    Just try to think for example about Indian tradition compared with Western classical music tradition.....there are many more examples...
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    Choral mass settings that include all five setions - the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei - are normally Roman Catholic. These are sometimes called Missa Solemnis, of which the most well-known example is Beethoven's. Beethoven regarded this work as among his greatest achievements, if not the greatest.

    Not all 5-section Masses in the RC tradition are referred to as Missa Solemnis, for example Schubert's Mass 6 in E flat, D 950 does not usually have this description, although I am aware that sometimes it is so described. I would say that this Mass is my favourite of all Masses written by anyone. Even though all of Schubert's masses are in the RC tradition, the Church was wary of using some of them because Schubert insisted on excluding a short section of the Credo, about which I have forgotten the details.

    Shorter choral Masses in the RC Church are generally referred to as Missa Brevis. They do not not include all 5 sections, although the Kyrie and Gloria are usually included. They would all normally be in Latin, except I guess some of the more modern ones which may be in the local vernacular.

    Lutheran Masses are usually referred to as either Missa Brevis or simply Lutheran Mass, and generally only include the Kyrie and Gloria. Confusingly, several were written in Latin. Therefore, by description only it's not possible to distinguish between an RC Missa Brevis and a Lutheran one. One would need to check the religious leaning of the composer in question, or failing that the exact text that was used, where one would expect to see some differences. For example, it would be much less likely to see any references to the BVM in Lutheran sacred works.

    J S Bach was of course a Lutheran and wrote several masses for that Church. However, his Mass in B Minor is a Missa Solemnis in the RC tradition. This magnum opus wasn't written in one go, but was amended at various stages in Bach's career, and I understand that he tended to use as a kind of calling card when trying to impress different prospective employers. It's a magnificent work.
    Last edited by Genoveva; Aug-24-2016 at 10:06.

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