Musicians Perform for Pope One of His Favorites

Castel Gandolfo Offers Schubert's "Winter Journey"

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 26, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The city of Castel Gandolfo offered its honored guest -- Benedict XVI -- a classical music concert in his honor, featuring one of the selections the Pope says is among his favorites.



Romanian cellist Yvonne Timoianu and pianist Christoph Cornaro, former Austrian ambassador to the Holy See, performed Franz Schubert's "Winter Journey," inspired by 24 poems of German Wilhelm Muller. The concert was held Sunday at the Apostolic Palace where the Holy Father is staying.

After the concert, Benedict XVI expressed his gratitude and praise for "the masterly interpretation that inspired in us profound emotions and spiritual suggestions," Vatican Radio reported.

The Pontiff said the combination of music and poetry realized by Schubert is one of his favorite compositions. He recalled the composer's epitaph: "He gave sound to poetry and speech to music."

The Holy Father explained to those present the meaning of Schubert's "Winter Journey," in which the composer expresses "an intense atmosphere of sad loneliness" caused by his delicate state of health and his emotional and professional disappointments.

"It is an inner journey that the famous Austrian composer wrote in 1827, only a year before his premature death at the age of 31," Benedict XVI noted. "When Schubert introduces a poetic text in his sonorous universe, he interprets it through a melodic union that penetrates the soul with gentleness, also leading the listener to feel the very nostalgic consumption of the musician, the very appeal of that truth of the heart that goes beyond any rationality. Hence, a picture is born that speaks of genuine ordinariness, of nostalgia, of introspection and of future."

The Holy Father noted the images that "Winter Journey" brings to mind -- snow, landscapes, objects, people and events -- and said he appreciated hearing this melody with the piano and cello substituting the human voice.

"Young Schubert, spontaneous and exuberant, succeeded in communicating -- also to us tonight -- what he saw and experienced," the Pope said. "Therefore, the recognition is merited that this illustrious giant of music receives universally, who honors European civilization and the great culture and spirituality of Christian and Catholic Austria. Interiorly comforted by tonight's splendid musical experience, we renew our gratitude."