Posts tagged ‘religion’

October 15, 2015

Mikulov – the Jewish cemetery (Židovský hřbitov)

by ada

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October 13, 2015

Mikulov – the Upper/Old Synagogue (Horní/Stará synagoga)

by ada

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September 21, 2015

Wien – Lange Nacht der Kirchen 2015

by ada

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April 4, 2015

music for Good Friday – Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber: Sonata X in G minor, Die Kreuzigung

by ada

Die Kreuzigung (The Crucifixion) from the famous and unique collection Die Rosenkranzsonaten (The Rosary/Mystery Sonatas) composed by Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber, one of the greatest violin virtuoso of the 17th century, for the Salzburg archbishop Maximilian Gandolph Graf von Kuenburg, around 1675.

I’m somewhat overwhelmed by the thought of speaking about this piece – more by its historical background than by its religious symbolism though. How could I explain 17th century Catholic customs, scordatura tuning, meantone temperament, stylus fantasticus and Biber’s role in the evolution of Baroque music in Austria in one short blog post? In English, which is only my third language? Totally hopeless. So let’s forget about facts and numbers and historical sources and listen to this sonata instead. It’s beautiful.

April 3, 2015

music for Maundy Thursday – “Eia Mater” from Antonio Vivaldi’s “Stabat Mater” RV 621

by ada

For all the stunning church music Antonio Vivaldi composed, he has never gotten to writing a proper passion oratorio. Fortunately, he did compose a Stabat Mater in 1721, the seventh movement of which we can now listen to. Performed by Philippe Jaroussky, because after 8 years of studying the long gone aesthetics of past societies, I only enjoy my soprano arias if sung by males.

March 30, 2015

music for Holy Monday – Aria “Sileant Zephyri” from Antonio Vivaldi’s motet “Filiae maestae Jerusalem” RV 638

by ada

According to Antonio Vivaldi, this is how nature mourns the death of Christ – the second movement of one of the two motets he composed as introductions for his now lost Miserere.

March 29, 2015

music for Palm Sunday – Aria “Mich vom Stricken meiner Sünden” from Reinhard Keiser’s Brockes Passion

by ada

Another year of the Holy Week Series, already the fourth since my life turned upside down. Four years of not being a musician anymore. How time flies. And while, on a daily basis, I’m already quite comfortable with the fact that I’ll never be a flutist anymore, this is that special time of the year when I really feel pity for myself and can’t stop having those “what if” and “could have been” thoughts. It’s all pointless, of course, because depression isn’t a matter of choice. And while I haven’t touched my instruments in four years, I still have a lot to say about how 18th century music is the best, so let’s talk passion music (instead of mental health woes, haha). Because, according to Baroque Palm Sunday traditions, that’s what one is supposed to listen to on this day.

Of course, no Lent can pass without me mentioning the Brockes Passion, so Brockes Passion it is, the very first version ever, written by the Hamburg composer Reinhard Keiser who, if we believe Johann Mattheson, was “the greatest opera composer of the world”. He was also a lover of good vines (especially Tokay), which, at times, made him behave “more like a cavalier than a musician” (again, if we believe Mattheson, which I personally have no reason not to do.)

Keiser was the first composer to set Barthold Heinrich Brockes’ (a prominent Hamburg politician) libretto Der für die Sünde der Welt gemarterte und sterbende Jesus aus den vier Evangelisten… in gebundener Rede vorgestellt to music in 1712. It was performed in the same year at one of the weekly concerts organised by Brockes at his home to a neat little audience of “over 500 persons” (apparently, Brockes had rather comfortable living conditions, haha). The première was a big success and the libretto became very popular among other German-speaking composers over the next few years. Händel, Telemann, Fasch and even Johann Sebastian Bach wrote their own versions. Here are my takes on some of them from the previous years: Johann Friedrich Fasch, Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, Georg Philipp Telemann, and some more Telemann (of course it can always be some more Telemann).

 

February 23, 2015

Wien – Jüdisches Museum

by ada

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November 26, 2014

Budapest – Kozma utcai izraelita temető (Jewish cemetery at Kozma street), part 2

by ada

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November 25, 2014

Budapest – Kozma utcai izraelita temető (Jewish cemetery at Kozma street), the mosaics

by ada

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November 25, 2014

Budapest – Kozma utcai izraelita temető (Jewish cemetery at Kozma street), part 1

by ada

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June 20, 2014

Budapest – Judafest 2014

by ada

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April 18, 2014

music for Good Friday – Lamentu di Ghjesu

by ada

For today’s music let’s go back to the ancient Corsican tradition of performing the Passion story during the procession of Good Friday: Lamentu di Ghjesu, based upon the folia theme, which is probably the oldest known ostinato ground (a harmonical line played repeatedly while the player/singer improvises a melody upon it). I could write pages about its origin and use through the centuries* without making you understand what it actually is, so let’s make it really simple instead:

  1. You have a few bars long harmony line that goes on and on and on, always in the same way
  2. Try to sing the main music theme of Vangelis1492 upon it
  3. Does it fit?
    a) Yes, it does – congratulations, you have a folia!
    b) No, it does not
      • it must be some other ostinato line
      • sorry, you probably didn’t sing it properly, try it again

Christina Pluhar‘s band L’Arpeggiata has been lately accused in early music circles** with “popularizing” early music, but I’m not sure if this expression really fits what they do, and even if it does, I don’t mind it at all. Because, actually, that’s exactly what this music needs: to made be known and loved by as many people as just possible. And, a fact that most of these devoted and oh so critical early music players tend to forget: this kind of music was intended to be performed mostly by common people. Just for pleasure. With no higher purpose than to serve everyday life events and/or to entertain. It should be taken for what it is: popular music at its best. 

PS: While last year’s Good Friday music was the great classic Es ist vollbracht from the Johannespassion, the year before I posted another, very beautiful Corsican passion song on another ancient ostinato line: Maria (sopra la Carpinese).

* I’ve actually done this for one of my music theory courses at the university

** not that I’ve had anything to do with early music circles since my depression other than writing vague, very unprofessional music posts twice a year, haha

April 16, 2014

music for Holy Wednesday – Jan Dismas Zelenka: Lamentatio I pro Hebdomana sancta, ZWV 53

by ada

According to my own tradition I’m supposed to post something French today. Two years ago I wrote about the most beautiful Tenebrae music of all times, Troisième Leçon de Ténèbres pour deux voix composed by the 18th century royal harpsichord teacher François Couperin. Last year it was Leçon de Mercredi by another royal harpsichord teacher, Michel Delalande. I can’t make up my heart to leave my eternal love and longterm imaginary boyfriend, Jan Dismas Zelenka completely out of this year’s series though, so for Holy Wednesday let’s listen to one of his beautiful lamentations, Lamentatio I pro Habdomana sancta, based upon Prophet Jeremiah’s laments. While it’s definitely not French music, it fits the Tenebrae-tradition perfectly. 

April 16, 2014

music for Holy Tuesday – Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel: Brockes-Passion

by ada

I again feel overwhelmed by the amount of beautiful music composed for this special time of the year – I wish I could listen to the Bach-Passions all the time and call it done without missing out on everything that led to them: the smaller composers and their small steps on the way to Bach’s perfection. Fortunately I have a thing for small composers and their imperfect music that makes me happy without making me hate myself (which is the case if I listen to too much Bach at a time, haha). So for Holy Tuesday let’s have a so-called “small composer”, Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, Bach’s contemporary who, before ending up as a Kapellmeister at the court of Gotha, travelled through Europe serving in cities like Rome, Prague and Wrocław, made friends with names like Vivaldi, Fasch and Bononcini and gained a reputation in the eyes of his peers as high as Johann Sebastian Bach himself. He even made it into Johann Mattheson‘s Grundlage einer Ehren-Pforte*, a collection of contemporary musicians’ biographies. One of his compositions (Bist du bei mir) is included in the collection of small exercise pieces Bach edited together for his son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and that was later passed on to his second wife, Anna Magdalena Bach. Unfortunately only a small amount of Stölzel’s work survived his successor Jiří Antonín Benda‘s  ruthless selection process, who considered the majority of them simply as “useless junk”. 

After Barthold Heinrich Brockes published his libretto Der für die Sünde der Welt gemarterte und sterbende Jesus in 1712, it became quickly a thing of fashion to set it to music. People like Händel, Telemann, Fasch and even Bach (in his Johannespassion) all made their versions of it and so did Stölzel in 1725. His Brockes-Passion has a stunning first and an airy, sweet last movement and some (quite uninteresting but very German Baroque) filling in between. Since it is one of all the twelve of his surviving works, it is really worth listening to.

* Well, he actually submitted himself, because he had a sense of business. But hey, that’s how the world of music works, even today. All you need is the ability to promote yourself in a shameless way and make as much superficial friendships as possible for future use. Being talented and/or a good musician is only an added plus, not the least mandatory.  

PS: in 2012 I posted something Early Italian: the Stabat Mater of Giovanni Felice Sances. In 2013 it was another version of the Brockes-Passion, that of Georg Philipp Telemann

April 14, 2014

music for Holy Monday – aria “Sventurati miei sospiri” from Giovanni Battista Ferrandini’s cantata “Il pianto di Maria”

by ada

The genre of “The Virgin’s Lament”, the passion story told from the perspective of Mary, originates from around the 5th century and has its roots in the Byzantine rite built on that particular teaching of the Council of Ephesus in 431 which declares Mary not only as the mother of Christ but also as the mother of God. It appears in various literary forms and musical settings throughout the centuries, but its purpose is always the same: to express the suffering of a mother who has to watch his son being unjustly killed. 

The aria Sventurati miei sospiri is part of the cantata Il pianto di Maria (Cantata sacra da cantarsi dinanzi al Santo Sepolcro) which, for a very long time was attributed to Georg Friedrich Händel but was actually composed by Giovanni Battista Ferrandini, an 18th century Italian composer. I really would love to share the intimate details of his life here but unfortunately the only sensational thing ever happened to him was having the 15-year-old Mozart play at his house while on one of his Wunderkind-tours in 1771.

Last year’s music for Holy Monday was the choir movement He smote all the first-born of Egypt from Georg Friedrich Händel‘s oratorio Israel in Egypt.

April 14, 2014

music for Palm Sunday – 1. Choral from Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (BWV 1)

by ada

The time has come again for the Holy Week Series, for the third year in a row. I’m sure you all are as happy as I am to witness my musicology writer career blossoming, haha. I am kind of late with Palm Sunday music though since we’re already deep into Holy Monday, but life has been pretty busy lately and left me no time for this blog.

I had a weird Palm Sunday, so I decided to post a similarly weird music, because I am vindictive.

The only cantata Johann Sebastian Bach ever composed for Palm Sunday is the cantata Himmelskönig, sei willkommen (BWV 182) which I have already posted last year. At the times Bach served in Leipzig, the practice of tempus clausum (closed time), which means that during the weeks of Lent and Advent no festivities and also no music at the liturgy other than Passion plays are allowed, was kept quite strictly. The only exception was the ceremony of Annunciation which, in the year 1725, fell exactly on Palm Sunday. This, and the fact that the text (written by Philipp Nicolai in 1597, btw) also mentions Jesus as the Son of David, makes this cantata perfectly eligible for Palm Sunday in my eyes; even if it has nothing to do with Lent at all. I am a free spirit, if it comes to interpreting music written for liturgical purposes. I can sell you the Christmas Oratorio as a perfect fit for Easter Monday, so watch out.

December 25, 2013

music for Christmas Eve – Jakub Jan Ryba: Česká mše vánoční – Hej, mistře!

by ada

The first movement of the traditional (and very famous) Czech pastoral mass of Jakub Šimon Jan Ryba. With cute animations; because we are talking Baby Jesus here. In a proper Central European manner.

December 23, 2013

Třebíč – the Jewish cemetery (Židovský hřbitov)

by ada

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December 23, 2013

Třebíč – the Rear Synagogue (Zadní synagoga, Neuschul)

by ada

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December 8, 2013

my lamp art too: my light shall never fade

by ada

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December 8, 2013

music for the 2. Sunday of Advent – Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Magnificat à 3 voix sur la même basse avec symphonie H.73

by ada

In my opinion, there is no way to express some “typically Catholic” emotions more beautifully than French Baroque church music does.* I’ve already stated my undying love both for the French music of those few decades at the turn of 18th century and for the ostinato arias** in general, so let’s get the two genres mixed! Could music get ever better than that? (This is a rhetorical question.)

So for the 2. Sunday of Advent let’s have a real gem of all things French Baroque, one of the ten Magnificats composed by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (you know, the guy who has written that oh so famous Te Deum everybody knows). It’s based on the four-bars ground of the descending tetrachord of a Passacaille, set in G minor which is, in Charpentier’s own words, a key that’s “Serieux et Magnifique“.***, ****, *****

* sorry people, I’m just simply no fan of either Gregorian music or Renaissance polyphony. Been there, done that and found something else that suits me better. No offense tough.

** everybody loves ostinato arias, even those who aren’t aware of it. Ostinato grounds are the roots of the pop (and sometimes rock and death black heavy metal) of any musical era. Even that of ours, right now.

*** Règles de Composition par Monsieur Charpentier, written around 1690

**** although in 1806 the characteristics of the G minor key are already described by Daniel Schubart as “bad-tempered gnashing of teeth”. Poor key seems to have lost a great deal of its magnificence throughout the years.

***** I’m getting crazy with all these stars and footnotes. Maybe I should stop using them at all.

December 1, 2013

music for the 1st Sunday of Advent – Johann Sebastian Bach: Cantata “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland”, BWV 62

by ada

The great success (ha! ha! two whole page views per day!) of the Holy Week Series inspired me to expand my musicology writer career to another part of the liturgical year: Advent and Christmas. You’re welcome.

Before the depression I had a thing for no-name German composers that didn’t really make it into the musical canon, like Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer or Cajetan Anton Adlgasser. Well, it’s over.* I’m all “all we need is Bach” nowadays. So for now, Johann Sebastian Bach it is, the cantata he’s composed for the first day of Advent in 1724; on the German translation of the ancient Ambrosian hymn Veni Redemptor Gentium.

* My interest in early music also seems to vanish very quickly. I hope, I will recover someday. Having spent 8 years of my life with something I can’t even enjoy anymore would be sort of tragic.

September 13, 2013

Budapest

by ada

zsinagóga

August 16, 2013

there is no greater love

by ada
August 4, 2013

Heiligenblut am Großglockner

by ada

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August 3, 2013

Salzburg – Sebastiansfriedhof

by ada

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July 7, 2013

conversations with my coworkers – part 6

by ada

(Sunday morning at my previous workplace. We are having breakfast and doing small talk.)

coworker: I never work on Sundays.

me (perplexed): Well, it’s Sunday and you are here, working.

coworker: It doesn’t count. It’s for money. But I never do laundry or vacuuming on Sundays. It’s not allowed. If you work on Sundays, God will punish you. I knew a man, he worked on a Sunday and his pigs got sick, all of them. Then he worked again and his son had a car accident and died. God punished him.

me: Whom did He punish? The son or the father?

coworker: Both of them.

me: It doesn’t make much sense to me. Which religion do you actually have?

coworker: I’m Christian.

me: Oh. I thought Jesus has already dealt with these kind of problems, like working on Shabbat or punishing sons for the sins of their fathers…

coworker: I don’t know what you are talking about.

me: The Bible. The differences of religious attitude in the Old and the New Testament.

coworker: I haven’t read the Bible. I don’t like reading.

me: Well, you know, there is this story about the Pharisees trying to trick Jesus out and asking him about his healing actions on a Shabbat…

coworker: I don’t know what you are talking about. If you work on Sundays, God will punish you.

me: Like, kill your son?

coworker: That’s the laws.

me: Well, those laws you are referring to, were originally meant as a survival guide to a small desert nation in a hostile environment, formulated more than 3300 years ago, on the level of ethical and moral development of a society of those times. There is this hypothesis of comparing the evolution of the human society to the ontogenesis of personality…

coworker: I don’t know what you are talking about. Which nation?

me: The Jews, of course. I’m talking about the practical role of the Ten Commandments in the survival of Judaism under disadvantageous conditions. And about the difference between Judaism and Christianity.

coworker: I don’t understand why are you speaking about Jews. These are the laws of God. God made them, not the Jews. God has nothing to do with Jews.

me: You mean, except calling them His own, chosen people? Actually, the problematic of whether the one and only God made the Jewish people or the Jewish people made up the idea of the one and only God is certainly very interesting…

coworker: I don’t know what you are talking about.

me: You know what? This discussion doesn’t make any sense. People should not be allowed to discuss religion on an empty stomach. Let’s have our breakfasts and talk about the weather.

April 13, 2013

Budapest – Gellérthegy

by ada

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April 1, 2013

music for Easter Monday – Aria “Süß und rein muß der Christen Passah seyn” from the Easter Cantata “Weg mit Sodoms gift’gen Früchten”, TWV1:1534 by Georg Philipp Telemann

by ada

Telemann wrote a whole cycle of cantatas for the liturgical year and published them in a two-bands collection, under the title Der Harmonische Gottesdienst. I chose this aria from the cantata written for Easter Sunday in 1725 for my last post of the Easter series, because I think Telemann was a genius and I like how this short piece of music shows the purity of the new life after the feast of the Resurrection.

P.S.: I don’t really like the singer’s voice, but well, nothing is perfect on Earth. I’ve already learnt to accept the need of making compromises in life.

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