Saturday, 27 November 2010

November - Month of the Holy Souls (4)

After the era of Faith and the era of Reform, came the era of scepticism, which coincides with the era of classical music. The Christian Civilization of Western Europe remained, not intact or unchallenged, but remained, nevertheless, as the bedrock of all European thought and expression. The 'Mass' remained a basic musical setting for composers, even if they were less and less suitable as liturgical pieces.

Antonín Dvořák, 'though devout and composer of many notable pieces based upon liturgical texts, gives us a good example of what went wrong, from the liturgical point of view, with European music.

His Requiem uses the liturgical texts but does violence to them to satisfy symphonic conventions. The Introit and Kyrie form one movement, which is practically correct since, if they were ever used in a liturgical setting there would be hardly a point in a pause. However, it places a clear priority on musical convention over liturgical. The texts are elsewhere rearranged to suit performance, for which, indeed, it was intended rather than liturgical use, as is shown by it's debut in Birmingham in 1891.


Quis ut Deus said...

Liked this a lot. Really interesting. Good examples.

Anonymous said...

can you tell us some more about this please.

Virgo Potens said...

The surprising thing about this series is that if fails to point out that not only is there some question over different settings of the Requiem but that the accompaniment of the human voice singing the Requiem is inappropriate in the same way that it was not permitted during Good Friday ceremonies.