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POPE-POURRI: 'Light' news items, anecdotes about Pope Benedict now

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    Russi
    Post: 37
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    00 5/8/2006 12:29 PM

    un regalino [SM=g27823]

    audio Regina Cæli di ieri - 7/05/2006
    Il Papa canta tocante
    E' bello il Papa!
    www.benedictxvi.tv - video papale
    www.benediktxvi.ru - Ratzinger-Inform agency
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    TERESA BENEDETTA
    Post: 2,488
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    00 5/8/2006 3:50 PM
    Thanks for conveniently excerpting Papa's 'Regina Caeli' chant, Russi!

    GG fans - Y'all realize, of course, that the first voice chanting the Regina Caeli with Papa is GG (and, except for when he was on vacation last year, he is always the voice giving the responses at the Angelus). I think the other voice we hear in the background of these Angelus/Regina Caeli prayers and responses is Mietek.

    [Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 08/05/2006 15.54]

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    NanMN
    Post: 261
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    00 5/9/2006 4:43 AM
    un regalino
    I can't get it open [SM=g27825] [SM=g27820]:

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    TERESA BENEDETTA
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    00 5/9/2006 5:03 AM
    Nan - Russi's site uses a program called RAR as you would have seen which is a bit tricky if you do not have it installed on your PC. It allows you to view something temporarily on what it calls an evaluation copy, which means that after you download from the site, you have to go through these dialog boxes and aswer accordingly until you see the program listed on the dialog box. I had the same trouble myself the first times - I'd click and click on the program name in this last dialog box and nothing seemed to happen.

    If you really can't open it, go to cetelmon.tv which carries the audios and videos of the audiences and Angelus.
  • !BlackDahlia!
    00 5/9/2006 9:18 AM
    I need a virus scanner to view videos different from what I normally find in CTV archives
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    TERESA BENEDETTA
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    00 5/9/2006 8:16 PM
    JOSEPH AND AMADEUS
    Some of this has previously appeared here before, but Gerald Augustinus at closedcafeteria.blogspot.com/ does a nice wrap-up today of all things Papa-and-Mozart...
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    Father Raymond Blake pointed out this Australian article. Here are excerpts:

    The Pope's brother Msgr Georg Ratzinger - for thirty years choirmaster of Regensburg Cathedral - recently gave an interview to a Swiss Catholic press agency, in which he divulged that Benedict XVI's favourite musical pieces are Mozart's Clarinet Quintet and the Clarinet Concerto.

    Inside the Vatican reported that Benedict was playing Mozart on his piano on the Sunday afternoon following his installation as Pope, when he returned to his old apartment to see his brother.

    And papal biographer George Weigel said in Newsweek after Benedict's election that "here is another surprise for cartoonists of the dour Ratzinger: he's a Mozart man, which I take to be an infallible sign of someone who is, at heart, a joyful person."

    Georg Ratzinger supplies further anecdotes:

    "Does he still find time to 'tickle the ivories'?"

    "Very seldom. But the last time I was in Rome with the Cathedral Choir the piano lid was open, and Mozart sonatas were lying there, open. He knows himself that his playing is hardly of an elevated standard, but he enjoys it. And his desire to make music still finds its most beautiful outlet in Mozart."

    "What sort of piano does he have then?"

    "It's of no particular brand. We bought it when he was a lecturer in Freising. The action is not so great, but it looks very nice, and the tone is fine. For the papal palace in Castelgandolfo the Steinway firm has donated a small grand piano, one which I also used to enjoy playing very much. Then there's talk of getting one for the Vatican too, but my brother said it's not worth it. For one thing he doesn't have much time, and also he gauges his own abilities realistically. For his own playing, his old piano is good enough."

    Msgr Ratzinger also gives a musical portrait of their family home. He says, "At home we played the harmonium. Our parents were of the view that it would prepare us for the organ. In one practice book was a piece of two lines reputed to be by Mozart. I could never identify it later. The 'Mozart year' 1941 brought an intensification. During the 150th year after the composer's death there was a Mozart broadcast every Sunday, at lunch time. As I was the one in the family who was the most musically engaged, I was allowed to occupy my father's place at the table, which was directly next to the radio. Then in July I went with my brother to a Mozart concert put on by the Regensburg Cathedral choir. There they sang excerpts from The Impresario in costume; it was quite wonderful. I couldn't sleep the whole night."


    But let's hear Benedict himself on the subject.

    In the extended interview that was published ten years ago as Salt of the Earth, we read:

    "You are a great lover of Mozart?".

    "Yes! Although we moved around a very great deal in my childhood, the family basically always remained in the area between the Inn and the Salzach. And the largest and most important and best parts of my youth I spent in Traunstein, which very much reflects the influence of Salzburg. You might say that there Mozart thoroughly penetrated our souls, and his music still touches me very deeply, because it is so luminous and yet at the same time so deep. His music is by no means just entertainment; it contains the whole tragedy of human existence."

    "So luminous ... so deep ... contains the whole tragedy of human existence", says the man who is now Pope. Many, including myself, would agree.

    Hans Urs von Balthasar was a close friend of Cardinal Ratzinger. Together with Cardinal de Lubac and others they founded the Communio International Catholic Review, published today in fifteen countries. Balthasar dared to express himself in directly theological fashion, speaking of the miraculous Mozart who had the "power of the heart" to sense infallibly the true and the genuine.

    A wonderful passage from Balthasar's The Glory of the Lord says, "Beauty is the word that shall be our first. Beauty is the last thing which the thinking intellect dares to approach, since only it dances as an uncontained splendour around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another [my italics]. Beauty is the ... one without which the ancient world refused to understand itself, a word which ... has bid farewell to our new world, leaving it to its avarice and sadness."

    In former times the liturgy, too, "refused to understand itself" apart from beauty: beauty was taken for granted. The fact that the holy liturgy has - in broad terms - been a casualty of the modern exaltation of ugliness is for Benedict XVI a matter of grave concern.

    And a last word from Msgr. Georg Ratzinger:

    "Many describe your brother as the "Mozart of theology". What do you think of this title?"

    "Joachim Cardinal Meisner of Cologne coined this phrase. It has a certain justification. My brother's theology is not as problematic and difficult as that of Karl Rahner ... Directness, clarity and form: his work does seem to have these elements in common with Mozart's music."
    --------------------------------------------------------------

    SUBLIME! Those of you who are not familiar with Mozart's clarinet pieces better run out and get a CD now. Once you hear the Clarinet Concerto, you won't get it out of your mind and heart!...And Hans Urs von Balthasar has got to be my favorite philosopher on the topic of beauty!!! I've quoted him before on this in connection with why we love Papa.....
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    Maklara
    Post: 134
    Registered in: 12/3/2005
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    00 5/9/2006 9:11 PM
    about Mozart's clarinet concerto
    I love Mozart Clarinet Concerto in A major K 622 , since I have heard it. No wonder, Papa likes it too. [SM=g27811] This concert belongs to Mozart's last works, written when he had suffered lot, seven weeks before his death.


    Bit of history abou this concert

    The idea to compose the Clarinet Concerto, the only one of its kind among Mozart´s numerous compositions, was concieved during his last stay in Prague in the autumn of 1791.

    Before Mozart left Prague Anton Stadler, Mozart´s close friend and an excellent clarinet and basset-horn player, persuaded Mozart to write a concerto for him. Stadler played the difficult basset-horn solos in the solemn performance of La clemenza di Tito, for which the Prague audiences reputedly rewarded him with exclamations “oh, you Czech miracle”. So he wanted to give his own concert of a new piece by Mozart. Mozart sent him the composition when he had returned to Vienna. On 16 October 1791 the Nostitz Theatre in Prague could host another Mozart´s premiere - the Clarinet Concerto in A major.

    [Modificato da Maklara 09/05/2006 21.13]

  • mag6nideum
    00 5/9/2006 10:00 PM
    RE: Mozart and Papa
    Thanks Maklara and Teresa for your interesting posts.
    You and Papa have excellent musical taste in loving the Clarinet Concerto. AND, in loving it, Papa and you two join the ranks of the great Mozart scholars who, rather uniformly, evaluate the Clarinet Concerto as perhaps his greatest work in the Concerto-genre as well as one of the most beautiful works for clarinet ever written.
    We all know by now Papa loves playing Mozart, and we've read that Mozart sonata-scores had been on the piano when Big Georg visited Papa after his election. Mozart's piano sonatas are beautiful - some more than others - but the scholars feel that his piano concerti show him at his greatest with regard to piano literature. He really made a seminal contribution to the evolution of the Concerto-genre. One needn't even be a musician to realise that his concerti are fantastic.

    But why am I giving an unasked for mini-lecture, you may be growling under your breath? [SM=g27812] Only because I want to ask those who are interested to listen to Mozart's PIANO Concerto (not sonata) Koechel 488 in A major (German : A- Dur).
    [Koechel was the guy who catalogued Mozart's many compositions after his death, and that's why the Koechel number is important, otherwise one can end up buying a work that isn't the one you really want!]

    The reason I'm asking you to listen to the K.488 A major concerto is that, for me, it symbolises something of the spirit of Il Papa. Like a sort of incarnation of Joseph Ratzinger....
    I'd like to know if you can hear it as well OR, if not, what other Mozart piano Concerto would you like Papa to play or to "be"? Perhaps a thread can be opened for "My imaginary Papa-music". It needn't be Mozart. I'm sure his horizon includes other composers as well! [SM=x40793] [SM=x40792]

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    Maklara
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    00 5/10/2006 8:34 AM
    Re: RE: Mozart and Papa

    Scritto da: mag6nideum 09/05/2006 22.00

    The reason I'm asking you to listen to the K.488 A major concerto is that, for me, it symbolises something of the spirit of Il Papa. Like a sort of incarnation of Joseph Ratzinger....
    I'd like to know if you can hear it as well OR, if not, what other Mozart piano Concerto would you like Papa to play or to "be"? Perhaps a thread can be opened for "My imaginary Papa-music". It needn't be Mozart. I'm sure his horizon includes other composers as well! [SM=x40793] [SM=x40792]




    Thanks mag6nideum, and for you who want to listen Mozart K 488 - here you have link of the first Movement 'Allegro' (the record is live, not without any mistake but still so touching)

    http://capital2.capital.edu/students/astortz/a.mp3

    Concerto in A Major, K. 488 was completed on March 2nd, 1786, around the time that The Marriage of Figaro was completed. It belongs to his famous group of six piano concertos which were written from 1785-1786. It is one of Mozart’s most popular piano concertos and the original score of this piece in Mozart’s handwriting remains. It is known for the wealth of themes and musical ideas which it contains, and is more introspectively intimate than most other concertos. The first movement is in a classical sonata-allegro form associated with a concerto which involves a double exposition and a development which is derived from the final bars of the exposition. It concludes with Mozart’s original cadenza.

    [Modificato da Maklara 10/05/2006 8.49]

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    TERESA BENEDETTA
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    00 5/10/2006 7:58 PM
    TRIVIA FROM THE ITALIAN PRESS
    From ANSA, the Italian news agency:

    Pope's 'look' perfect but...

    “Pope Benedict XVI does not need expert advice about his look. He is a symbol and the most elegant man on earth,” said Gay Mattiolo, a Rome designer who is participating in a conference on fashion and style.
    WE ALL AGREE WITH THAT. BUT HIS NEXT STATEMENT MAKES ONE QUESTION HIS JUDGMENT!
    “The only suggestion I would give is for the Holy Father to cut his hair shorter. His hair style does not suit him.”
    WHAT?!?!?!


    And from the website of the Province of Arezzo (Tuscany):

    Ambasssador of Fair Play

    On June 2-3, a Tuscan association for “Fair Play [the English words are used] will honor the Pope as World Ambassador of Fair Play.

    The International Prize “Fair Play Mecenate” marks its 10th year with the granting upon it of “High Patronage” from the President of the Italian Republic, in recognition of the importance of the association. [Unfortunately, the item does not give any further background on the association!]

    The two-day festivities will be held in the historic city of Cortona.

    On May 31, a delegation from the Fair Play committee will have a special audience with the Pope. They will be led by the Prefect of Arezzo province and the mayor of Cortona. They will formally present to the Pope a certificate recognizing him as the world’s foremost representative of fair play.

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    benefan
    Post: 919
    Registered in: 11/23/2005
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    00 5/10/2006 8:09 PM
    IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED!

    In regard to the post above this one, can someone who can write in Italian send a letter from our forum to whatever publication aired that idiotic comment from the Italian fashion designer that Papa should cut his hair shorter and that his current haircut doesn't suit him? In the letter, please state that if anyone comes near the papal hair with scissors, one of us will kill him and the designer as well if he continues to make crazed statements like that. Thank you very much.

    [Modificato da benefan 10/05/2006 20.28]

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    benefan
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    00 5/10/2006 8:22 PM
    Living a dream: singing a hymn for the Pope

    Quebec City boy, who was born deaf, says of visit to Rome: 'I feel like I'm in paradise'
    RHÉAL SÉGUIN

    QUEBEC -- Singing for the Pope at a private audience at the Vatican is an achievement few nine-year-old boys would even consider, never mind one born deaf.

    But tomorrow, Jérémy Gabriel of Quebec City will stand before Pope Benedict XVI and sing in his soft, high-pitched voice his rendition of "Je Louerai L'Éternel" (I Will Praise the Everlasting).

    "At first I was nervous about coming here," Jérémy said in a telephone interview yesterday from Rome. "But now I feel like I'm in paradise. It almost feels normal."

    Jérémy has Treacher-Collins Syndrome, a rare birth defect characterized by facial anomalies such as downward slanting eyes, a small lower jaw, underdeveloped or missing cheekbones and malformed or missing ears. These anomalies can cause hearing, breathing and eating problems.

    He has had more than 15 rounds of surgery to rebuild his face, and more are planned. He uses a special hearing aid that transmits sound vibrations through his skull bones.

    Despite his handicaps, Jérémy loves to sing and to participate in plays at École oraliste de Québec, his school for the deaf.

    Last fall he recorded an album of Christmas songs, and in October he was invited to sing the national anthem before a sellout crowd of more than 20,000 fans at a Montreal Canadiens hockey game.

    The performance was followed by a flurry of publicity that included an invitation to sing with Céline Dion at one of her concerts in Las Vegas.

    Yet for Jérémy, the appearances at these prestigious events still fell short of his goal of singing a hymn for the Pope, an ambition he said he has nurtured since watching the funeral of Pope John Paul II on TV last year.

    Jérémy's wish impressed Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec and primate of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada, who brought it to the attention of Pope Benedict XVI.

    "The Holy Father was moved by the young boy's story. After a moment of silence he said, 'Let's do it.' He decided in 30 seconds. It was quite touching," Cardinal Ouellet said recently in explaining the Pope's decision to honour Jérémy's request.

    Jérémy will sing at noon tomorrow before a blessing ceremony for an ark of the new covenant built by Canadian Catholic Youth. Jérémy said he sees the Pope as a father figure, someone he can simply walk up to, sit on his lap and begin singing.

    "That's what I would like to do," the young boy said. "But I don't know if he'll let me."

    Jérémy's mother Sylvie Gabriel, 31, said the meeting will be a defining moment in her son's constant struggle to achieve a normal life.

    "You know it's easier to achieve big dreams than it is to achieve small ones," Ms. Gabriel said yesterday. "Jérémy's story proves that no one should sell themselves short and shouldn't be afraid to strive for bigger dreams."

    Ms. Gabriel said her husband Steve Lavoie and their two daughters Alycia, 2, and Gaelle, 6, feel blessed that so many people have supported Jérémy in achieving his dream.

    "To see all of Quebec loving my son the way they have and to see how extraordinary he is, is truly the most beautiful gift for any mother," Ms. Gabriel said.

    The ark to be blessed by the Pope is a chest covered with iconic images related to the Eucharist. Over the next two years, it will be sent to dioceses across the country as part of the evangelization movement leading up to the Eucharistic Congress to be held in Quebec City in June, 2008. The Pope is expected to attend part of the week-long congress, where 20,000 people will gather.

    Quebec's bishops are in the Vatican this week for their ad limina visits, the visits they are required to make every five years to report on their ministries.

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    benefan
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    00 5/10/2006 8:32 PM
    Record number of journalists to cover Pope's visit to Poland

    Rome, May. 10 (CWNews.com) - More than 4,000 journalists have applied for credentials to cover the trip to Poland by Pope Benedict XVI later this month, the Italian AGI news service reports.

    Marcin Prceciszewski, who is coordinating media relations for the papal visit, told reporters in Rome that the number of journalists accredited for the papal visit, which will take place May 25- 28, easily exceeds the number who accompanied Pope John Paul II on his own trips to his native country. For the first time, a Polish national television network will offer 24-hour coverage of the papal visit.

    Prceciszewski said that a visit to Auschwitz has drawn the largest number of requests for credentials among the public appearances that Pope Benedict will make in Poland. The Pontiff will also visit Warsaw and Krakow, his predecessor's birthplace at Wadowice, and shrines in Czestochowa and Kalwaria Zebrzdowska.

  • mag6nideum
    00 5/10/2006 9:14 PM
    RE: Mozart and Papa's hair
    Maklara, thank you for providing the link to the A major concerto. I'll listen to this version, but first a word about the pope's hair: I share Benefan and Teresa's reactions to the comment of the fashion fundi upstairs. It seems to be the fashion currently to leave only the bare minimum of hair on a man's poor skull. It suits some guys but it reminds me of Nazi-movies and is the last thing I want to be seen done to Benedict. If this fashion guy can get to a scissor he'll probably take off most of Papa's thick top-hair as well as the sides. Well, fashions come and go... [SM=g27812]
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    TERESA BENEDETTA
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    00 5/10/2006 10:43 PM
    MORE TRIVIA BUT THIS ONE'S CUTE!
    Papa is more ‘hip’ than people give him credit for! What, just because he is 79 he can't keep abreast???) After all he watches TV news, for what it's worth!

    Elena66 in the main forum titled her post “But does the Pope watch the San Remo Festival then?” Here is what she posted, in translation:
    ---------------------------------------------------------------
    From an interview with Povia, an Italian pop singer who won the top prize at the last San Remo International Song Festival-

    You sang in Cologne for World Youth Day, and then a few weeks later, before the Pope in Rome [he took part in the warm-up entertainment program before the Pope’s dialog with the First-Communion children in October].
    It was very beautiful, great emotion…When I shook the Pope’s hand, the cardinal who presented me to him explained that I was the winner at San Remo, and the Pope answered, “Oh…the pigeons!” [Apparently, the winning song had something about pigeons!]

    [Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 10/05/2006 23.14]

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    benefan
    Post: 924
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    00 5/10/2006 10:57 PM

    From Cool Cardinal to Hip Papa

    Hey, we know he reads several world newspapers daily and watches TV news and movies. And for 25 years he heard about all the problems in every country in the world from visiting bishops. If anybody is on top of things, it is Papa. The only time he got caught unawares was when he had to be introduced to Pele because he doesn't follow sports. But otherwise Papa knows it all. [SM=x40794]

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    @Nessuna@
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    00 5/13/2006 7:34 PM
    Friday next week, 19 May, H.M. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is going to be received in audience by H.H. Pope Benedict.
    Sources:
    www.kongehuset.dk/aktuelt/kalender/
    www.vaticanradio.org/tedesco/newsted.htm


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    Jil
    Post: 226
    Registered in: 11/29/2005
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    00 5/13/2006 7:55 PM
    Pele

    Scritto da: benefan 10/05/2006 22.57

    From Cool Cardinal to Hip Papa

    Hey, we know he reads several world newspapers daily and watches TV news and movies. And for 25 years he heard about all the problems in every country in the world from visiting bishops. If anybody is on top of things, it is Papa. The only time he got caught unawares was when he had to be introduced to Pele because he doesn't follow sports. But otherwise Papa knows it all. [SM=x40794]




    Yes, I remember that screne from Cologne. Very sweet [SM=g27827]: I'm sure afterwards Papa was not too amused that his advisors had not told him about Pele. [SM=g27817]
  • OFFLINE
    TERESA BENEDETTA
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    00 5/13/2006 9:36 PM
    VATICAN VIGNETTES
    Some items posted in the main forum today:

    Pope invited to address FAO


    Jacqus Diouf, director-general of the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), told Telepace in an interview today:
    "I have officially invited the Holy Father to the headquarters of FAO in Rome for the meeting of the Food Security Council on September 18, 10 years after the world summit in 1996.

    "On that occasion, John Paul II delivered an address which has remained in the annals as a milestone and foundation for achieving the objectives of teh summit."

    Diouf met with the Pope this morning for the second time in the space of a few months.

    "If the Pope accepts, he could deliver a very important message to the world before the FAO's 190 member nations," he added.

    But this one must have caused dismay at the Vatican:

    Horrible adventure for a monsignor
    who works for the Secretariat of State and who is a lodger at Casa Santa Marta, the Vatican hotel that housed the cardinals at the last conclave.

    The prelate was cruising that zone of Rome between Valle Giulia and the Villa Borghese park, where he was apparently waiting to meet with one of the transsexuals or gay boys who frequent that area at night to get 'customers.'

    When he was stopped by policemen for questioning, the monsignor tried to flee but crashed into three cars (presumably parked). Next he responded by hitting out at the policemen who had to go to a first-aid station for help. But not before they charged him.

    The priest's defense? That he was only looking for adults, not minors!
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    "The filth! The filth!" Cardinal Ratzinger would say....The Pope should call in this miserable man, hear his side, and then impose some exemplary punitive action and some manner of redress/rehabilitation if called for! "Dear brother in Christ," he would remind him, "we are each supposed to be representing Christ. This is hardly the way to do that!

    [Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 13/05/2006 21.38]

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    TERESA BENEDETTA
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    00 5/13/2006 11:40 PM
    TRULY WOW!!!
    On behalf of benefan, I am posting this full text from the Australian magazine AD2000 of the article on Benedict and Mozart that was cited in the Gerald Augustinus blog I posted the other day.

    It turns out that at the same time, benefan had sent me a query by e-mail to find out whether the article had already been posted, but I didn't get to see the e-mail until today. Gerald had not provided a link to the article itself, otherwise I would have posted the article rather than just his excerpted account. The full article really needs to be seen, so here it is.



    Benedict XVI, Mozart
    and the quest for beauty

    By Mark Freer

    [Mark Freer is a leading Church musician and concert pianist. He is organist and choirmaster for the Latin Mass at Holy Name Church in Adelaide, and has performed and broadcast in Australia, Switzerland, Germany and Italy.

    At the 2005 international seminar in Lugano, Switzerland, commemorating Hans Urs von Balthasar's 100th anniversary, he presented a lecture and a Mozart concert accompanied by the leader of the Queensland Orchestra, Warwick Adeney; his seminar paper appeared in the Spring 2005 Communio journal entitled "The Triune Conversation in Mozart: Towards a Theology of Music".

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg on 27 January 1756, and his 250th anniversary is being celebrated this year in concert halls and on the airwaves all over the Western world
    .]


    Everyone, it seems, loves Mozart. As a small boy I would march round and round the room to an old recording of the Haffner Symphony that my father used to play, and in my professional vocation as a musician that love has remained and grown.

    I find myself in excellent company in this regard.

    The Pope's brother Msgr Georg Ratzinger - for thirty years choirmaster of Regensburg Cathedral - recently gave an interview to a Swiss Catholic press agency, in which he divulged that Benedict XVI's favourite musical pieces are Mozart's Clarinet Quintet and the Clarinet Concerto.

    Inside the Vatican reported that Benedict was playing Mozart on his piano on the Sunday afternoon following his installation as Pope, when he returned to his old apartment to see his brother.

    And papal biographer George Weigel said in Newsweek after Benedict's election that "here is another surprise for cartoonists of the dour Ratzinger: he's a Mozart man, which I take to be an infallible sign of someone who is, at heart, a joyful person."

    Georg Ratzinger supplies further anecdotes:

    "Does he still find time to 'tickle the ivories'?"

    "Very seldom. But the last time I was in Rome with the Cathedral Choir the piano lid was open, and Mozart sonatas were lying there, open. He knows himself that his playing is hardly of an elevated standard, but he enjoys it. And his desire to make music still finds its most beautiful outlet in Mozart."

    "What sort of piano does he have then?"

    "It's of no particular brand. We bought it when he was a lecturer in Freising. The action is not so great, but it looks very nice, and the tone is fine. For the papal palace in Castelgandolfo the Steinway firm has donated a small grand piano, one which I also used to enjoy playing very much. Then there's talk of getting one for the Vatican too, but my brother said it's not worth it. For one thing he doesn't have much time, and also he gauges his own abilities realistically. For his own playing, his old piano is good enough."

    Msgr Ratzinger also gives a musical portrait of their family home. He says, "At home we played the harmonium. Our parents were of the view that it would prepare us for the organ. In one practice book was a piece of two lines reputed to be by Mozart. I could never identify it later. The 'Mozart year' 1941 brought an intensification. During the 150th year after the composer's death there was a Mozart broadcast every Sunday, at lunch time. As I was the one in the family who was the most musically engaged, I was allowed to occupy my father's place at the table, which was directly next to the radio. Then in July I went with my brother to a Mozart concert put on by the Regensburg Cathedral choir. There they sang excerpts from The Impresario in costume; it was quite wonderful. I couldn't sleep the whole night."

    But let's hear Benedict himself on the subject.

    In the extended interview that was published ten years ago as Salt of the Earth, we read:

    "You are a great lover of Mozart?".

    "Yes! Although we moved around a very great deal in my childhood, the family basically always remained in the area between the Inn and the Salzach. And the largest and most important and best parts of my youth I spent in Traunstein, which very much reflects the influence of Salzburg. You might say that there Mozart thoroughly penetrated our souls, and his music still touches me very deeply, because it is so luminous and yet at the same time so deep. His music is by no means just entertainment; it contains the whole tragedy of human existence."

    "So luminous ... so deep ... contains the whole tragedy of human existence", says the man who is now Pope. Many, including myself, would agree.

    The deeper one enters into Mozart's music, the more one anticipates insights in between those little quavers and crotchets; in short, the more one allows it to "penetrate the soul", the more it is felt as transcendent, sublime, consummately beautiful.

    Hans Urs von Balthasar was a close friend of Cardinal Ratzinger. Together with Cardinal de Lubac and others they founded the Communio International Catholic Review, published today in fifteen countries. Balthasar dared to express himself in directly theological fashion, speaking of the miraculous Mozart who had the "power of the heart" to sense infallibly the true and the genuine.

    Referring to The Magic Flute, he writes: "What must appear everywhere else as a vain image of fantasy or even of blasphemy - the definitive revelation of eternal beauty in a genuine earthly body - may well have become blessed reality just once, here, in the realm of the Catholic Incarnation."

    And this astonishing passage from his Tribute to Mozart:

    "Do we not come from God and return to him, passing through the waters and fires of time, suffering and death? And why should we not permit ourselves to be led through the dissonances of our existence by the Zauberflöte, a tremendous adumbration of love, light and glory, eternal truth and harmony? Is there a better, indeed another manner to bear witness to the nobility of our divine filiation than to make present whence we came and where we are going?

    "All those whom we take for our models tried to have it that way, and above all He who knew himself to be the Son of the Father, who had the face of the Father before his eyes always, and whose will he accomplished. Mozart serves by making audible the triumphal hymn of a prelapsarian [before Man's Fall] and resurrected creation, in which suffering and guilt are not presented as faint memory, as past, but as conquered, absolved, fixed present."

    All this will inevitably scandalise those who regard Mozart primarily as a Freemason, and The Magic Flute principally as a piece of Freemasonic symbology, both true enough in themselves.

    Balthasar too - the "theologian of beauty" - is viewed in certain circles with suspicion. Yet, as Cardinal Ratzinger said at von Balthasar's funeral, "The Church itself, in its official responsibility, tells us that he is right in what he teaches of the Faith".

    The subject of Mozart's Freemasonry was raised with Georg Ratzinger. He said, "It isn't for me to pass judgement on Mozart. He was a man with many difficulties arising from the period he lived in, and from the circumstances of his life. The issue of his Freemasonry disturbs me insofar as he was not only an ordinary member, but attained the rank of Master, and wanted to found his own lodge. Freemasonry was obviously fashionable at that time in Vienna. Certainly he hoped for material gain from his membership. Whether he reflected on the theological implications I don't know."

    No thoughtful Catholic will have difficulty distinguishing Mozart's music from his Freemasonry, any more, for example, than separating Bach's work from his Lutheranism. Moreover, if we were to dismiss every human work that had been created by a sinner as invalid, there would not be much left standing. I was once taken to task for leading a congregation in a "Protestant tune", to which I replied, "Which note was Protestant?" Let us move on.

    All beauty comes from God. There is no beauty that does not come from the Father through Christ, Himself the embodiment of all beauty. St Augustine, in a famous passage from the Confessions, addresses God as Beauty personified: "Late have I loved You, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved You!"

    Contrary to popular opinion, true beauty (the only kind there is, despite Satan's posturings) is objective. Truth and goodness are beautiful just as the beautiful is true and good.

    A wonderful passage from Balthasar's The Glory of the Lord says, "Beauty is the word that shall be our first. Beauty is the last thing which the thinking intellect dares to approach, since only it dances as an uncontained splendour around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another. Beauty is the ... one without which the ancient world refused to understand itself, a word which ... has bid farewell to our new world, leaving it to its avarice and sadness."

    In former times the liturgy, too, "refused to understand itself" apart from beauty: beauty was taken for granted. The fact that the holy liturgy has - in broad terms - been a casualty of the modern exaltation of ugliness is for Benedict XVI a matter of grave concern.

    He speaks scathingly of mass culture geared to quantity, production and success: "Pop music joins up with this culture ... It is a reflection of what this society is, the musical embodiment of kitsch ... Hindemith used the term brainwashing for this kind of noise, which can hardly be called music any more ... Is it a pastoral success when we are capable of following the trend of mass culture and thus share the blame for its making people immature or irresponsible? (A New Song for the Lord, p.108).

    For him, "faith becoming music is part of the process of the Word becoming flesh" (p. 122).

    But there is no chance here of doing justice to the breadth and profundity of our theologian-Pope's writings.

    Here is one small small taste: "It is not the case that you think something up then sing it; instead, the song comes to you from the angels, and you have to lift up your heart so that it may be in tune with the music coming to it.

    "But above all this is important: the liturgy is not a thing the monks create. It is already there before them. It is entering into the liturgy of the heavens that has always been taking place. Earthly liturgy is liturgy because and only because it joins what is already in process, the greater reality (p.129).

    And a last word from Msgr. Georg Ratzinger:

    "Many describe your brother as the 'Mozart of theology'. What do you think of this title?"

    "Joachim Cardinal Meisner of Cologne coined this phrase. It has a certain justification. My brother's theology is not as problematic and difficult as that of Karl Rahner ... Directness, clarity and form: his work does seem to have these elements in common with Mozart's music."

    Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 19 No 3 (April 2006), p. 12

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    I haven't had a chance to see if Freer's Communio article is available online, but it should be a pleasure to read!
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