Benedict XVI's Address After Mozart Requiem Concert
A "Great, Dramatic and Serene Meditation on Death"
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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Tuesday at the end of a performance of Mozart's Requiem in the courtyard of the papal residence of Castel Gandolfo.
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My heartfelt thanks to the Orchestra of Padua and Veneto and to the "Voice Academy" choir of Turin, directed by maestro Claudio Desderi, and to the four soloists for having given us this moment of interior joy and spiritual reflection with an intense performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem. Along with them, I thank Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, secretary of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, for the words he addressed to me, as well as to the institutions that contributed to the organization of this event. We know well that Mozart, in his trips around Italy with his father when he was young, stayed in several regions, among which were, also, Piedmont and Veneto, but above all we know that he was able to learn from the lively Italian musical activity, characterized by composers such as Hasse, Sammartini, Father Martini, Piccinni, Jommelli, Paisiello, Cimarosa, to mention some of them.
Allow me, however, to express once again the particular affection that has united me, I could say, always, to this great musician. Every time I listen to his music I cannot help but return in memory to my parish church, where on feast days, when I was a boy, one of his "Masses" resounded: I felt that a ray of beauty from heaven reached my heart, and I continue to experience this sensation also today every time I listen to this great, dramatic and serene meditation on death.
Everything is in perfect harmony in Mozart, every note, every musical phrase is as it is and could not be otherwise; even those opposed are reconciled; it is called "mozart’sche Heiterkeit" (Mozart's serenity), which envelops everything, every moment. It is a gift of the Grace of God, but it is also the fruit of Mozart's lively faith that, especially in sacred music, is able to reflect the luminous response of divine love, which gives hope, even when human life is lacerated by suffering and death.
In his last letter written to his dying father, dated April 4, 1787, he wrote, speaking precisely of the final stage of life on earth: "For about a year I have become so familiar with this sincere and greatly loved friend of man, [death], that its image no longer holds anything that is terrifying, but it even seems to me tranquilizing and consoling! And I thank my God for having given me the good fortune of having the opportunity of recognizing in it the key to our happiness. I never lie down without thinking that perhaps the next day I might not be. And yet anyone who knows me will not be able to say that in their company I am sad or in a bad mood. And for this good fortune I thank my Creator every day and I desire it with all my heart for each one of my fellow men."
This writing manifests a profound and simple faith, which also appears in the great prayer of the Requiem, and leads us at the same time to love intensely the ups and downs of earthly life as gifts of God and to rise above them, contemplating death serenely as a "key" to go through the door to happiness.
Mozart's Requiem is a lofty expression of faith, which recognizes the tragic character of human existence and which does not hide its dramatic aspects, and for this reason it is an appropriate expression of Christian faith, conscious that the whole of man's life is illuminated by the love of God. Thank you all once again.
[Translation by ZENIT]