Sergeant Rock wrote:
Not sure which specific 19th century composers you have in mind. But I think its truthful to say that some romantic composers had less of a religious bent, and more towards agnostic ideas.
I was thinking specifically of the Verdi, Brahms and Berlioz Requiems: I believe Verdi was an aetheist. Brahms was brought up as a strict northern German Protestant but his adult beliefs were not orthodox. He deliberately left out any mention of Christ in the Deutsches Requiem
, creating a non-liturgical choral piece. It's been quite awhile since I read a biography of Berlioz; I'm not sure about his religious beliefs but I would guess they weren't exactly kosher.
IOW the music has to possess spiritual content for its effects to occur.
For some it may be that the romantics acrry this spirituality. For others it may be Schnittke's 2nd sym, or a Pettersson sym that hold s "the spiritual content", The Holy Grail.
There's the rub. How do you determine "spiritual content" in a piece of music? And why do you think that spiritual content was lacking in the music of the 19th century? Specifically, Paul, why do you hear this content in Pettersson but not in the Romantic Bruckner, for example? Bruckner was as pious as they come and unlike Pettersson he wrote actual "Christian" music: three masses; a requiem; the Te Deum; Psalms 112, 114, 150, and many motets. I think you could say, too, that his magnificent slow movements in the symphonies are as close to worship and prayer as secular music can come. You just need to open your ears and your soul, Paul
Contrary to Bruckner's obvious faith in a Christian god, which comes through loud and clear even in his symphonies, Pettersson's symphonies seems full of pain, doubt and anguish. I hear a resigned but heroic existential stoicism in the end, not faith in a better life to come. If Pettersson was, as you suggest, a true believer, I would think there would be far more joy in his music. I don't hear the "good news" about Christ in Pettersson's depressing output.
Sarge as you know all religions have the orthodox and the heterodox sides to its faith.
Jesus was condemned by the orthodox jews of his day.
Carl Jung, though never a member of any organized church, was a believer, a christian.
I recall seeing a documentary on Brucker yrs ago, I believe he suffered from some mental ailment. I am wondering if his religious beliefs had something to do with this condition.
You mentiion Brahms did not include the mention of Jesus Christ.
It doesn't need to, but one would expect the name of Christ mentioned.
Thats not important to me, as the actual spiritual content of the music itself.
For me at least the romantic period is something of a curiosity, but never do I feel a spiritual power in the music. I use the 'a curiousity" in the sense of amusing, even interesting.
But I'd never consider most of the romantic, including all of Beethoven as spiritual.
The Brahms, Verdi, Berloiz, Brucker masses, requiems I might consider more religious, but but necessarily spiritual. Though i should say I've not heard any of these composers sacred works, nor much of their secular. But from what i have heard, to my ears its not spiritual. Not at all.
Pettersson and Schnittke for me represent spirituality of the very highest order.
Here we get into epistomology, the ideas of what constuites the spiritual dimension.
We are all going to have different opinions on what constuites our spiritual needs.
For some, bruckner may speak of spiritual things, others its Mozart. many consider Bach to be a high order of spirituality.
For me this indescriblable essence is revealed in the music of Pettersson and Schnittke.
Its not a question of what the majority believes, it all comes down to the individual as to what moves the depths of his being.
There's no right/wrong answer here.
Everyone on this board may claim "there is no spirituality in Schnittke or Pettersson's music...its just music and nothing more".
This consensus will not in any degree take away any of my appreciations of either composers music.
Its a rock solid faith.
In this sense i say that Nyugen heard "a voice from god" in his recent encounter with Schnittke.
Though he denies any such connection in his "overwhelming" experience, trust me, down below his everyday conscious, something was touched upon.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.