Ed's talk: Jul 17, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

reply on music and religion

"Ed, I can see that you don't have much use for organized religion. However, I suggest that you have brushed over ideas too lightly. For example, I challenge you to bring forward the links of the Sermon on the Mount with the pagan examples of which you speak. Consider also the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus was a Jew - and Jews tended to scorn the Samaritans. In other words, Jesus emphasized higher concepts than ethnic identity and interests."

Hi Frank,

It wasn't my purpose to suggest all composers were non-believers and that all believers were insincere.

The Jesus situation is complex and many have tried to understand it. If everyone who has tried has failed, I can have no pretext of understanding it. What I have suggested with my links is that many of the pagan antecedents of Jesus have had their attributes applied to him as well and that Mary certainly has these antecedents. While your ideas are certainly valid, they don't negate what I wrote.

Jesus also has other antecedents in the OT as well as, for instance, in Isaiah 53:

and Elijah who was also taken up into heaven, in a fiery chariot in his case.

"Next, you may have taken some editorial liberties by downgrading the faith of Gabriel Faure and Johannes Brahms. For example, Citations by Arthur Abell, who talked to Brahms, Grieg, and Max Bruch about their faith, cites Brahms' reverence for the Great Nazarene and reports that Brahms felt that his best works came when he was inspired by God. He also had disparaging things to say about the "neutrals", "the millions who live only for the here and now".

I don't see how I downgraded the faith of either. I wrote that "Fauré's own opinions on religion are unknown, to me at least, but he was notably anti-clerical, understandably, due to his day-to-day often fraught dealings with the clergy." I've known even believers who have had "fraught dealings with the clergy". As for Grieg I've heard nothing other than what you wrote and know only that Bruch was a gifted composer of the Lutheran faith who wrote much choral music as well as the "Kol Nidrei" for cello and orchestra and three Violin Concertos and was a friend of Brahms. (No he was not Jewish!)

And Mr. Abell, a violinist, seems to have had an agenda much as almost everyone does so I'm not sure I would believe him about Brahms either without further reliable sources.

"Indeed, it was not until I learned of Beethoven's belief that he had a mission from God that I could grasp how someone who lost the most precious faculty for a musician, his hearing, could go on to compose his best works. In contrast Johan Mattheson, from whose Boris Goudenow one can conclude that he was not burdened with reverence for the clergy, also had brilliant talent but composed nothing after he lost his hearing."

I'm not really sure where this came from about Beethoven but see this link.

I had not heard of this opera which was apparently rediscovered in 1998 and know little about Mattheson except for the duel in which he nearly killed Handel.

Also see the following, while we're at it, about Mendelssohn and Goethe.



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