23) COMPOSERS: Were and are the greatest composers followers of Jesus Christ?

Commentary

Prophetic Statements

Scriptures

Moroni 7:12

Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

Composers Statements

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

Bach spent his entire life in Germany, working primarily as a church musician. For the two centuries prior, this region had been permeated by the legacy of Martin Luther, with his radical emphasis on a living, personal, Bible-based Christianity. Luther himself had been a musician, declaring music to be second only to the Gospel itself. Bach was to be the reformer’s greatest musical disciple. 1

As he began a new composition, Bach frequently initialed the top of his blank manuscript pages with the marking, ‘J.J.’ as an abbreviation for Jesu Juva–“Help me, Jesus” or I.N.J. for In Nomine Jesu–“In the name of Jesus”.  Once he completed the work, Bach routinely concluded with the initials S.D.G. representing Soli Deo Gloria or ‘To God alone, the glory”.

The key to Bach is the spiritual dimension. He was further along the line of godliness than most of us. For me, Bach is a seer, a wise man, a beacon along the path.  (Nancy Argenta, Soprano)

His music is the language of the soul, so we can never fully understand him.  (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, conductor and baritone)

‘Bach almost persuades me to be a Christian.’ (Roger Fry)

‘In Bach there is too much crude Christianity, or Germanism, crude cholasticism. He stands at the threshold of modern European music, but he is always looking back toward the Middle Ages.’  (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Ludwig Van Beethoven  (1770-1827)

“I will place all my confidence in your eternal goodness, O God! My soul shall rejoice in Thee, immutable Being. Be my rock, my light, forever my trust.”

“Nothing higher exists than to approach God more than other people and from that to extend His glory among humanity.”

“. . . during the first rehearsal of a new composition, Schuppanzigh, the concert-master, complained to Beethoven that a certain passage was so badly written for the left hand as to be almost unplayable. Whereupon Beethoven shrieked at him: ‘When I composed that passage, I was conscious of being inspired by God Almighty. Do you think I can consider your puny little fiddle when He speaks to me?'”[4]

“. . . Beethoven made other similar declarations . . . he confessed that he was conscious of being closer to his Creator than other composers were, declaring: ‘I know that God is nearer to me than to others in my craft; I consort with Him without fear.'”[5]

Brahms

To realize that we are one with the Creator, as Beethoven did, is a wonderful and awe inspiring experience. Very few human beings ever come into that realization . . . I always contemplate all this before commencing to compose. This is the first step. When I feel the urge I begin by appealing directly to my Make and I first ask him the three most important questions pertaining to our life here in this world—whence, wherefore, whither [woher, warum, whoin]? I immediately feel vibrations that thrill my whole being . . . Those vibrations assume the forms of distinct mental images, after I have formulated my desire and resolve in regard to what I want—namely, to be inspired so that I can compose something that will uplift and benefit humanity—something of permanent value.

Straightway the ideas flow in upon me, directly from God, and not only do I see distinct themes in my mind’s eye, but they are clothed in the right forms, harmonies and orchestration. Measure by measure, the finished product is revealed to me when I am in those rare, inspired moods, . . . I have to be in a semi-trance condition to get such results == a condition when the conscious mind is in temporary abeyance and the subconsciousness, otherwise the ideas fade away.[8]

George Frideric Handel  (1685-1759)

Franz Joseph Haydn  (1732-1809)

“Never was I so devout as when composing The Creation. I knelt down every day and prayed to God to strengthen me for my work.” [1]

“I prayed … that an infinite God would surely have mercy on His finite creature, pardoning dust for being dust. These thoughts cheered me up. I experienced a sure joy so confident that as I wished to express the words of the prayer, I could not express my joy, but gave vent to my happy spirits and wrote the above Miserere, Allegro.”

Felix Mendelssohn  (1809-1847)

“Pray to God that He may create in us a clean heart and renew a right spirit within us.”

A friend entered Mendelssohn’s study and sees his friends engrossed in the Bible. Mendelssohn glances up at his visitor, showing no signs of surprise and offering no greeting. “Listen” he says, and excitedly begins to read aloud: “And behold, the Lord passed by …” he reads on and on, his voice rising in pitch as the drama of the passage overwhelms him. The visitor recognises the story of Elijah, when suddenly the reading stops. “Would not that be splendid for an oratorio?” asked Felix Mendelssohn, setting the Bible on his desk and searching his friend’s face for a reaction. Thus the greatest oratorio of the nineteenth century was conceived. 2

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  (1756-1791)

“No atheist has ever been or ever will be a great composer.” [2]

“God is ever before my eyes. I realise His omnipotence and I fear His anger; but I also recognise His compassion and His tenderness towards His creatures.”

“Let us put our trust in God and console ourselves with the thought that all is well, if it is in accordance with the will of the Almightly, as He knows best what is profitable and beneficial to our temporal happiness and our eternal salvation.”

“That is the way Mozart composed. He was asked what the process was with him while composing and he replied: ‘Es geht bei mir zu wie in einem schönen, starken Traume’ [The process with me is like a vivid dream] . . . ” [3]

Richard Strauss

Composing is a procedure that is not so readily explained . . . When the inspiration comes, it is something so subtle, tenuous, will-o-the-wisp-like nature  that it almost defies definition. When in my most inspired moods, I have definite compelling visions, involving a higher selfhood. I feel at such moments that I am tapping the source of Infinite and Eternal energy from which you and I and all things proceed. Religion calls it God . . .”[6]

” . . .without it [inspiration] nothing of lasting value can be put on paper. A good composer must also be a killed craftsman . . . but no matter how clever the workmanship, no composition will live unless it is inspired. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Wagner were all inspired composers, and they also had great technical skill.”[7]

Puccini

(When composing an opera) “I first grasp the full power of the Ego within me. Then I feel the burning desire and the intesne resolve to create something . . . . Then I make a fervent demand (prayer) forand from the Power that created me. This demand, or prayer, must be couple with full expectatoin that this higher aid will be granted me. This perfect faith opens the way for vibration to pass from the dynamo, which the soul-center is, into my consciousness, and the inspired ideas born.”[9]

” . . . The great secret of all creative geniuses is that they possess that power to appropriate the beauty, the wealth, the grandeur, and the sublimity contained withing their won souls, which are parts of Omnipotence, and to communicate those riches to others. . .”[10]

Supporting Statements


  1. (Geiringer, Haydn, 1946, p. 144.)
  2. (Arthur M. Abell, Talks with Great Composers, p. 6)
  3. (Arthur M. Abell, Talks with Great Composers, p. 6)
  4. (Arthur M. Abell, Talks with Great Composers, p. 3)
  5. (Arthur M. Abell, Talks with Great Composers, p. 4)
  6. (Arthur M. Abell, Talks with Great Composers, p. 86)
  7. (Arthur M. Abell, Talks with Great Composers, p. 84)
  8. (Arthur M. Abell, Talks with Great Composers, p. 5)
  9. (Arthur M. Abell, Talks with Great Composers, p. 116)
  10. (Arthur M. Abell, Talks with Great Composers, p. 116)

References:

  1. From Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers, Patrick Kavanaugh, p.
  2. Recorded in Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers, p.

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