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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anybody consider Classical Music Pieces with dark or alternative subject matter offensive to persons with a strong religious faith. The pieces listed below are just some I singled out, there are countless others that could be added as well.

Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra / Alpine Symphony / Death and Transfiguration / Salome: Dance of the Seven Veils

Igor Stravinsky: Rite of Spring

Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique

Camille Saint-Saëns: Danse Macabre / Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah

Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition / A Night on the Bare Mountain

Gustav Holst: The Planets

Sergei Rachmaninov-The Isle of the Dead and Countless other pieces.

The pieces above are all instrumental, except the wordless vocals on Holst:Neptune, and I do not listen to them with a program. Meaning, that anything the composer may or may not have intended to be associated with the piece is lost upon me. I have my own thoughts while listening to any piece of music. Being a devout music lover, I have often wondered about this matter with several music pieces, but I have found no general consensus regarding this matter.
 

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Does anybody consider Classical Music Pieces with dark or alternative subject matter offensive to persons with a strong religious faith. The pieces listed below are just some I singled out, there are countless others that could be added as well.

Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra / Alpine Symphony / Death and Transfiguration / Salome: Dance of the Seven Veils

Igor Stravinsky: Rite of Spring

Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique

Camille Saint-Saëns: Danse Macabre / Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah

Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition / A Night on the Bare Mountain

Gustav Holst: The Planets

Sergei Rachmaninov-The Isle of the Dead and Countless other pieces.

The pieces above are all instrumental, except the wordless vocals on Holst:Neptune, and I do not listen to them with a program. Meaning, that anything the composer may or may not have intended to be associated with the piece is lost upon me. I have my own thoughts while listening to any piece of music. Being a devout music lover, I have often wondered about this matter with several music pieces, but I have found no general consensus regarding this matter.
No ,I am sorry, never ever thought about it.
 
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All the examples seem quite harmless to me and it never occurred to me that people might flinch at them for religious or similar reasons. And unlike with some popular music or fantasy/horror literature I am not aware of e.g. Christian groups banning or warning against such music (but I am in Europe, not the Bible belt, so my experience in these respects is very limited).
There is sonata by Scriabin called "Black Mass" but again, it's a piano sonata; I have no recollection of it although I heard it a few times. I'd probably draw the line if someone wrote a "real Black Mass" unironically (and I would not be too comfortable with an ironic Black Mass like some 1980s heavy metal bands did either). But Walpurgisnacht and Witches Sabbath depicted in instrumental music I have no problems with at all. I mean, murder and rape occur in many operas and classical dramas anyway.
 

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I think the practices of religious people are far more likely to cause offence to enlightened people than the other way around.

If anyone can get their knickers in a knot over an instrumental piece based purely on the title, they probably have more problems than Mount Olympus and the whole panoply of gods could hope to solve.

For one possible answer, why not turn the question on its head and consider the effect of religious music, including lyrics, on the enlightened. Here’s my personal take. I love it. I listen to the stuff and can’t get enough of it. I know exactly what Gloria In Excelsis Deo means, I sang it when I was a kid and know that it’s 100% hogwash. It’s entertainment and that’s it. Don’t worry about being struck by lightning because you listened to Dance With The Devil. It’s a drum solo and that’s all it is. You won’t go to hell for spinning it.
 

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Does anybody consider Classical Music Pieces with dark or alternative subject matter offensive to persons with a strong religious faith.
Yes, I can imagine there might be someone out there whose faith sensibilities might be offended by such music (though not necessarily by the pieces you've listed here).
 

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Ooh, I love the Wolf’s Glen scene from Der Freischutz. “Samiel, Samiel!” Eerie and thrilling.
 

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What are you going to do? Everything is offensive to somebody Josquin’s Ave Maria is offensive to Protestants, Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony is likely offensive to Catholics, Nono and Henze are offensive to political conservatives, the woke puritans are offended by everything
 

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BTW the best spooky Berlioz for me is not the last movement of the SF but the Ride to the Abyss and Pandaemonium at the end of The Damnation of Faust.

And the Tannhäuser Bacchanal would surely be bordering pornography if the stage directions were taken seriously.
 

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And the Tannhäuser Bacchanal would surely be bordering pornography if the stage directions were taken seriously.
Now that is regie theatre that I could get into!:lol:

Anyway, I was thinking about the OP and really, there is no dark side to music, but there is certainly a dark side to certain people!
 

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I don;t know anyone religious who won't listen to masses (which I think are something religious to Christians?), Lutheran masses (again. I think something religious), oratorias about "messiahs", Bach's non-secular cantatas or indeed any of the works you mention.
To me it's just art music.
I was just commenting on the 'Now listening - Opera' that I miss the well-tuned harp leitmotiv in the Paris Tannhäuser. I've never been pulled up for idolatory.

Why do you ask?
I hope you're not in charge of programming an event and you're considering dumping perfectly good music in case it offends anyone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I am liking the discussion of late, and just FYI, I have numerous interpretations of most everything I listed in the OP. I got to thinking about this subject matter during the advent of Halloween while listening to the so called macabre pieces that generally only get played this time of year.
 

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I don’t think many Christians and certainly not in the sort of churches I go to have much problem with classical music because most people there don’t listen to it. They are into other sorts of music. What they are far more likely to object to is the sort of pop music which is full of swear words or blasphemous references that their kids might tune into.
 

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I got to thinking about this subject matter during the advent of Halloween while listening to the so called macabre pieces that generally only get played this time of year.
You mean played by you? or by the radio or orchestras?

Outside of the US Halloween was virtually unknown (certainly not in any way celebrated by the larger public) until about 25 years ago. (I was surprised by the "The rest is history" podcast that even in Britain there was hardly any Halloween in the 70s and 80s when the podcasters grew up, it was only Guy Fawkes Night a bit later (Nov 5th)
I remember that I first heard the word as a young kid around 1980 (because of the horror movies) and had absolutely no idea what the word meant. I think I thought for several years that it was just a name of certain horror movies (as I was not allowed to watch them, I didn't really get the connection).
Supposedly the sweets and fancy dress industry began seriously pushing Halloween in Germany in 1991 when Carnival in February was canceled because of the Gulf War (completely ridiculous, of course it has not been canceled for any war since then and Germany had nothing to do with the 1991 Gulf War). They were successful; while it started very slowly, since the early 2000s or so kids go around to trick or treat even here.
 

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Not offended by these, but avoid some of them. Others I have no interest in and or have not heard.

Salome: Dance of the Seven Veils: Never heard it and avoid that opera as it is not a subject I want to dwell on.

I won't listen to:

Igor Stravinsky: Rite of Spring:
Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique
Camille Saint-Saëns: Danse Macabre /
Mussorgsky: A Night on the Bare Mountain

These don't bother me so far:

Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah (not isolated but as part of the entire opera)

Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (A favorite work though it is a bit dark)

Gustav Holst: The Planets (not really interested in this one, mostly bores me)

Sergei Rachmaninov-The Isle of the Dead and Countless other pieces. I do like this.


Maybe there are some inconsistencies, but that is how it falls out for me.
 

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What are you going to do? Everything is offensive to somebody Josquin's Ave Maria is offensive to Protestants, Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony is likely offensive to Catholics, Nono and Henze are offensive to political conservatives, the woke puritans are offended by everything
Please take it from me as a lifelong practising Catholic that Mendelssohn's "Reformation" symphony is in no way offensive to us. I don't know of any Catholic who would conflate his or her faith with classical music in that way. Otherwise I wouldn't have spent the last couple of weeks practising Rummel's piano transcription of Bach's chorale "Ertoedt' uns durch Deine Guete"!
 

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There are some chorale texts from the reformation that have been changed into milder versions already a few decades later and certainly in more recent protestant hymnals because they were too divisive in a more ecumenical atmosphere.
E.g. there is "Erhalt uns Herr, bei deinem Wort" to which Luther added as subtitle "Ein Kinderlied, zu singen wider die zween Ertzfeinde Christi und seiner heiligen Kirchen, den Bapst und Türcken" (A song for children, to sing against the two archenemies of Christ and his holy church, the Pope and the Turk).
 
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