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Thread: Was Beethoven religious?

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    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    Default Was Beethoven religious?

    "Gregorian melodies, of course, continued to be used in the Mass throughout the eighteenth century; but by Beethoven's time they were relatively rare, especially in orchestral Masses. The one composer who still used them extensively is Michael Haydn, in his a cappella Masses for Advent and Lent. It is significant that in some of these he limits the borrowed melody to the Incarnatus and expressly labels it "Corale." In the Missa dolorum B. M. V. (1762) it is set in the style of a harmonized chorale, in the Missa tempore Qudragesima of 1794 note against note, with the Gregorian melody (Credo IV of the Liber Usualis) appearing in the soprano. I have little doubt that Beethoven knew such works of Michael Haydn, at that time the most popular composer of sacred music in Austria.

    In sketches from the beginning and end of his career we find harmonizations of Gregorian melodies: the Lamentations of Jeremiah and the Pange lingua. When he began work on the Missa Solemnis, he noted his intention: "In order to write true church music — look for all the plainchants of the monks." From such studies, not to mention his exercises in modal counterpoint for Haydn and Albrechtsberger, he learned to write the Dorian melody for "Et incarnatus est." From his notes and sketches it is evident that he regarded the "Gregorian" modes primarily as a means of religious expression. In 1809 he wrote: "In the old church modes the devotion is divine, I exclaimed, and God let me express it someday." And in 1818, when he first thought of writing a choral symphony: "A pious song in a symphony, in the old modes, Lord God we praise Thee—alleluja.""


    < Beethoven | Michael Spitzer | P.123~124 >
    Last edited by hammeredklavier; May-06-2021 at 05:13.

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    Senior Member Amadea's Avatar
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    Sorry, I don't get the question in the title. Are you asking about his personal beliefs (see his letters) or discuss the influences in his sacred music works? Anyway, you should also count he was a great admirer of Cherubini and Handel, which he respectively considered "the greatest of our times" and "the greatest of all times". Also, this is a very interesting part of Mozart's Misericordias Domini (I'm sure you already know this): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5dGgwydwG4&t=55s
    Last edited by Amadea; May-06-2021 at 12:53.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amadea View Post
    Sorry, I don't get the question in the title. Are you asking about his personal beliefs (see his letters) or discuss the influences in his sacred music works? Anyway, you should also count he was a great admirer of Cherubini and Handel, which he respectively considered "the greatest of our times" and "the greatest of all times". Also, this is a very interesting part of Mozart's Misericordias Domini (I'm sure you already know this): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5dGgwydwG4&t=55s
    I don't know if Beethoven was religious, but I would like to thank you for the video shows to us the continuation between the great composers, or how a little bit of copied music can drive to new masterpieces creation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dimace View Post
    I don't know if Beethoven was religious, but I would like to thank you for the video shows to us the continuation between the great composers, or how a little bit of copied music can drive to new masterpieces creation.
    I wouldn't call that a copy or plagiarism, rather a quote, because we are talking about a few similar notes which then develop differently. Composers at that time used a lot to quote other composers they admired, to show admiration and musical erudition. The erudite listeners catched the "musical quotes" and enjoyed them. Mozart did that, and others did too. Beethoven considered himself as the greatest admirer of Mozart. Another quote in my opinion is found in the Moonlight sonata, a reference to Don Giovanni's aria "Ah, soccorso! Son tradito!", an opera which Beethoven loved and in his own words "was proud of it as if it was his own work". This is the aria, listen to the violins from 3:50: https://youtu.be/6XfkvANfYb4?t=229 you can hear it more clearly when the same part is played on a piano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEw_feiV_co
    Last edited by Amadea; May-06-2021 at 13:52.

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    I guess Beethoven was probably religious. He wrote the Missa solemnis but I think cared also for humanity.

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    You’re all missing the point. Our worthy constituent, Hammeredklavier, is pushing his agenda again on Michael Haydn. See the second sentence and the last sentence in Paragraph 1.

    Nice move!
    Last edited by Barbebleu; May-06-2021 at 23:25.
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    Senior Member Amadea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbebleu View Post
    You’re all missing the point. Our worthy constituent, Hammeredklavier, is pushing his agenda again on Michael Haydn. See the second sentence and the last sentence in Paragraph 1.

    Nice move!
    Nothing wrong with that imho. I find it very interesting

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Nothing at all. Btw I missed sentence 3 in Para. 2.I don’t think Hammered is really interested in Beethoven’s religious beliefs so much as to what extent he was influenced by Michael Haydn when writing his religiously motivated works like the Missa.
    Last edited by Barbebleu; May-06-2021 at 23:30.
    "...it is said that first your heart sings, then you play. I think if it is not like that, then it is only just combination of notes, isn't it? " - Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Master of the Sitar.

    ‘When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!‘

    ‘It will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end!’

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    Quote Originally Posted by jkl View Post
    I guess Beethoven was probably religious. He wrote the Missa solemnis but I think cared also for humanity.
    Vaughan Williams wrote music with religious themes and he was an atheist. One doesn't have to be religious to compose sacred music.
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    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amadea View Post
    Are you asking about his personal beliefs
    Yes, his personal beliefs, which manifested in an interesting way both in his life and work (Op.123, 125, 132)

    Quote Originally Posted by Amadea View Post
    Also, this is a very interesting part of Mozart's Misericordias Domini (I'm sure you already know this): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5dGgwydwG4&t=55s
    J. Haydn Missa in E flat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5pjklzCKLM&t=18m41s
    Beethoven Op.55/ii: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbGV-MVfgec&t=22m47s

    Also the Missa solemnis— the last great Classical work of the tradition of "credo-messes" (which was probably started by J.J. Fux, and continued on by Mozart (K.192, K.257) *notice the word "credo" is sung twice in a two-note motif) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZmY-ScPo8M&t=5m29s

    M. Haydn Missa sancti Gabrielis - Et incarnatus est: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScKK17UPSYg&t=5m49s

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    I don't understand why this has to be ANOTHER thread about Michael Haydn's church music, I don't think that this is a good strategy to promote it.

    One has to be careful with contemporary sources about things like "personal beliefs". While "materialist atheist" in the modern sense did exist (like LaMettrie and d'Holbach and a few other lesser French philosophes) anyone who toyed with pantheism would often be called "atheist" by more orthodox believers and the most common stance among late 18th/early 19th century "moderns" was probably some personal mix between Pantheism, Deism and non-orthodox Theism (a bit like today's "spiritual, not religious") although very few did openly break with their church.
    Beethoven certainly never did leave the church and there are some remarks that sound quite faithful (in a traditional christian, if not orthodox catholic sense, like that God had never left him in his plight or so), others more pantheist. E.g. he had some kind of "Egyptian" (probably hermetic?) quotation on his desk (like "I am what was and will be and is everywhere" or so, I can't find the details now)

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    Senior Member Amadea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    I don't understand why this has to be ANOTHER thread about Michael Haydn's church music, I don't think that this is a good strategy to promote it.
    You can ignore the thread :P the beauty of a forum is that you can discuss what you like and totally avoid what you're not interested in and you can discover new things or see things from different perspectives. If hammeredklavier didn't talk about M. Haydn, I would have probably overlooked him.

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    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    I don't understand why this has to be ANOTHER thread about Michael Haydn's church music,
    Because Gregorian modes were fundamental in Beethoven's religious expressions, and Michael Haydn was one his models? What other thread is there about Michael Haydn's church music on this forum? Show me if there's any.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    I don't think that this is a good strategy to promote it.
    So every post that talks about, for example, Beethoven symphonies regardless of the thread topic it belongs in, is a "strategy to promote them"?

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