Archive for the ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’ Tag

Gratitude for Athens, Georgia   Leave a comment

Above:  The Dome of the City Hall, Athens, Georgia, August 5, 2009

Photographer = Carol M. Highsmith

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-highsm-04138

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Seeking reasons for gratitude to God is a daily activity; it is an easy one, fortunately.

During the last few days I have been thinking deeply about a subset of those reasons; I have been pondering reasons I am blessed to live in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia.  Many such reasons–too many to enumerate in a succinct blog post–have come to mind.

A few follow.

A visit to relatives in Americus, Georgia, followed shortly by a lecture at The University of Georgia (UGA), started me down this path.  Last Tuesday night I attended a lecture by Dr. Richard B. Miller, the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Religious Ethics at The University of Chicago Divinity School.  Miller spoke about St. Augustine of Hippo‘s concept of the common good and of its implications for today.  The full explanation of St. Augustine’s definition of sin as disordered love proved especially helpful.  As I listened and learned, I also thought about how fortunate I was to live in the town in which that event happened.  UGA, my relationship with which has been both positive and tumultuous, at different times, since 2005, made that lecture possible.

Indeed, I have may reasons to be grateful for and to UGA.  It creates a wonderful intellectual environment in Athens.  I care nothing about the athletics of a university, for the purpose of such an institution is supposed to be primarily educational, is it not?  The presence of UGA in Athens not only makes Athens what it is, but also makes me feel at home in this town, a colony of members of the intelligentsia.

I grew up in a series of United Methodist parsonages in small towns and communities in southern Georgia.  The intellectual atmosphere (not in the parsonage, of course) was generally lackluster, even anti-intellectual.  (Nevertheless, I do recall that sometimes even my father angrily rebuffed some of my attempts at academic discussions, especially of the Bible.  There was no good reason to fear Higher Criticism.  No philosophical meat grinder will grind up the truth, after all; the truth will break the meat grinder.)  I usually felt like an intellectual outcast and the resident heretic.  (Today I wear the label “heretic” with pride.  As churchy as I am, given the option of avoiding church or facing allegations of heresy in a congregation, I would choose the former.)  Politically and socially most of the neighbors were or seemed to be beyond conservative–reactionary, actually.  Many were openly and unapologetically racist.

Of course I gravitated toward the left side of the spectrum.  I have remained a man of the left, although I have, with greater frequency, found myself in rooms with people to my left–sometimes far to my left.  I have shifted slightly to the right in some ways, and far to the left (relative to my former position) in others.  Overall, I have continued to occupy a center-left position.  (I tend to be center-right in liturgical matters and to the left politically, socially, and theologically.  My unapologetic Western Classicism in music is prominent in my daily life.)  I have ceased to be the resident heretic, for (1) I worship with people, many of whom are to my left, and (2) I worship in a faith community where nobody accuses me of heresy.  Charges of heresy have usually come from the right, not the left, after all.  (This is why most ecclesiastical schisms occur to the right and the majority of church mergers happen on the left.  Tolerance and acceptance are antidotes to Donatism.)

St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church has been my spiritual home since August 2005.  The parish has saved my life (in 2007) and become a means by which I offer gifts and talents to God.  I have, for years, curated a movie series, functioned as the librarian, and taught adult Sunday School, for example.  For nearly a decade I sang in the choir.  (I have many fond memories of that time.)  Although some people roll their eyes when I obsess over the proper arrangement of chairs, hymnals, and prayer books in the worship space, tending to that matter has long been something I have offered to God.  (I have come to long wistfully for pews.)  Also, the music has long been mostly excellent in the parish.  Last Sunday, for example, a string quartet performed at the 10:30 service and accompanied the choir during a performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s Ave Verum Corpus.

As much as I enjoy visits to relatives in Americus, Athens is my place.  As much as I visit Calvary Episcopal Church, Americus, occasionally, and find my spot in a pew there comfortably, St. Gregory the Great Church is my place.  As much as I enjoy visiting Americus, I also enjoy returning to Athens.

I am also grateful for friends and acquaintances. all of whose privacy I respect in this post by preserving in this post by naming none of them.  Some of them have saved my life and seen me through difficult times.  I have also performed my sacred duty and helped one friend to the point of self-sacrifice.  If necessary, I would do it again, without hesitation.

I hope to reside in Athens for long time.  The possibility of leaving eventually remains, of course; I admit that doing so might be proper one day.  That hypothetical day is one I hope is far off, if it is extant.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 24, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF OSCAR ROMERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SAN SALVADOR; AND THE MARTYRS OF EL SALVADOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF PAUL COUTURIER, APOSTLE OF CHRISTIAN UNITY

THE FEAST OF THOMAS ATTWOOD, “FATHER OF MODERN CHURCH MUSIC”

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Feast of Franz Joseph Haydn and Michael Haydn (March 31)   1 comment

model-of-st-stephens-cathedral-vienna

Above:  Model of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, Austria

Image in the Public Domain

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FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN (MARCH 31, 1732-MAY 31, 1809)

brother of

JOHANN MICHAEL HAYDN (SEPTEMBER 14, 1737-AUGUST 10, 1806)

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Composers

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The Haydn brothers (Franz Joseph and Johann Michael, often billed as “Michael Haydn”) were great composers.  They were two of twelve children of Mathias Haydn (a wheelwright and an amateur harpist) and Anna Marie Koller, of Rohrau, Austria.  The family was of German and Austrian peasant origin.

franz-joseph-haydn

Above:  Franz Joseph Haydn

Image in the Public Domain

The two brothers sang in the choir at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna; their tenures overlapped for three years.  Franz Joseph joined the choir at the age of seven years; he studied singing, learned to play the harpsichord and the violin, and was a soprano soloist.  Then, in 1749, his voice changed and he left the choir.  Johann Michael succeeded him as soloist and remained in the choir until 1755, having spent a decade there.

johann-michael-haydn

Above:  (Johann) Michael Haydn

Image in the Public Domain

From 1749 to 1757 Franz Joseph engaged in a series of youthful escapades and began to compose.  Among his influences were Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788).  Franz Joseph’s early compositions, some of which have not survived (at least not to our knowledge) included two Masses.

1757 was an important year in the lives of the brothers Haydn.  Franz Joseph spent the summer composing at Wenzinel Castle (near Melk), the property of Count Carl Joseph von Furnberg, of Austria.  Johann Michael became the kappelmeister at the cathedral at Grosswardein, serving for five years.

From 1759 to 1761 Franz Joseph worked as the music director to Count Ferdinand Maximilian Morzun, who had a summer castle at Lukavec, Bohemia.  On November 26 Franz Joseph married Maria Anna Keller.  The union was an unhappy and childless one.

Franz Joseph worked under the patronage of Esterhazys from 1761 to 1790.  In 1761 he became the assistant kappelmeister of the court orchestra of Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy.  The following year the Prince died.  Prince Nicolaus Joseph “the Magnificent” Esterhazy, a great patron of the arts, supported Haydn.  After Nicolaus Joseph died in 1790, Franz Joseph received a pension.  Among the composer’s students was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, starting in 1781.

Johann Michael lived and worked in Salzburg from 1762 until 1806, when he died.  At first he was the orchestral conductor to the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg.  Later the composer added organist responsibilities at St. Peter’s Church to his duties.  In time Johann Michael traded organist responsibilities at St. Paul’s Church for those duties at St. Rupert’s Cathedral, Salzburg.  He married Maria Magdalena Lipp (1745-1827).  The couple had one child, a daughter who died in infancy.

Franz Joseph spent most of the remaining 19 years (1790-1809) of his life living in Vienna; he also traveled, as he did to London more than once.  Among his pupils was Ludwig von Beethoven, starting in 1790.

In the 1700s and early 1800s conventional wisdom held that Johann Michael was the better composer of the two.  Franz Joseph agreed, at least with regard to sacred works.  Franz Joseph was no slouch musically; he composed operas, symphonies, sacred works, songs, cantatas, concertos, and various instrumental works.  He also perfected the early symphonic form and invented the modern string quartet.  Among his sacred works were the Mass in Time of War (1796) and The Creation (1798), the latter work containing the great chorus “The Heavens are Telling.”  He died at Vienna on May 31, 1809, aged 77 years.

Johann Michael, composer of the Requiem (1771) and the Missa a due cori (1786), influenced Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Carl Maria von Weber.

Johann Michael’s reputation has had its ups and downs since his death.  His reputation as a composer has declined overall since 1806, just as his elder brother’s reputation as a composer has improved.  Johann Michael’s drinking problem has affected his personal reputation negatively.  The author of the article about him in the old Catholic Encyclopedia wrote in a judgmental tone, for example.  On the other hand, the scientific understanding of addiction has challenged old moralistic notions based on inaccurate assumptions regarding willpower.

Even church musicians and composers of sacred works have personal problems with which they wrestle.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 7, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HELDER CAMARA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF OLINDA AND RECIFE

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADALBERT NIERYCHLEWSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF MITCHELL J. DAHOOD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MOSES, APOSTLE TO THE SARACENS

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Franz Joseph Haydn, Johann Michael Haydn,

and all those who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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Feast of Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Johann Christian Bach (March 21)   6 comments

st-thomas-church-leipzig

Above:  St. Thomas’s Church, Leipzig

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (MARCH 21, 1685-JULY 28, 1750)

father of

CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH (MARCH 8, 1714-DECEMBER 14, 1788)

half-brother of

JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH (SEPTEMBER 5, 1735-JANUARY 1, 1782)

Composers

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Johann Sebastian Bach is an officially recognized saint on several calendars.  The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and The Lutheran Church–Canada assign him the feast day of July 28, without any other composers.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada designate July 28 as the feast day for not only J. S. Bach but also Heinrich Schutz and George Frederick Handel.  The Episcopal Church, in A Great Cloud of Witnesses (2016), assigns July 28 to J. S. Bach, George Frederick Handel, and Henry Purcell.  Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), celebrates the life of J. S. Bach on March 21.

For generations certain members of the Bach family were distinguished in creative endeavors, mostly in music.  I have chosen to focus on three of these Bachs–a father and two of his sons.

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JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)

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johann-sebastian-bach

Image in the Public Domain

Johann Sebastian Bach, born at Eisenach on March 21, 1685, was the youngest child of Elizabeth Lammerhirt (1644-1694) and Johann Ambrosious Bach (1645-1695), a string player.  In 1695 the orphaned J. S. Bach moved in with his eldest brother, Johann Christoph Bach (1671-1721), the organist at St. George’s Church, Eisenach, and a former pupil of Johann Pachelbel.  Johann Christoph Bach also taught his youngest brother to play keyboard instruments.  J. S. Bach, who joined the boys’ choir at St. Michael’s Church, Luneburg, in 1700, studied music in the school library there.  By 1702 he was apparently a skilled organist at Sangerhausen.  Johann Sebastian did not get that job, but he did join the ducal orchestra at Weimar the following year.  Later he became the organist at St. Boniface’s Church, Arnstadt.

Life changed for J. S. Bach in 1707.  That year he became the organist at St. Blasius, Muhlhausen.  He also married Maria Barbara Bach (1694-1720).  The couple went on to have seven children, including Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788).  J. S. Bach resigned his position at Muhlhausen in 1708 and accepted a new job as the court organist at Weimar.  In 1714 J. S. Bach became the concert master, with the responsibility of composing a cantata each month.  Two years later, a less qualified man became the kappelmeister, a position J. S. Bach wanted, at Weimar.  Our discontented saint departed the court in 1717.  He became the kappelmeister at Kothen, serving until 1723.  Maria Barbara died suddenly on July 4, 1720.  J. S. Bach married his second wife, Anna Magadalena Wilcken (1701-1760), on December 3, 1721.  The couple went on to have 13 children, including Johann Christian Bach (1735-1795).

In 1723 J. S. Bach accepted the position of cantor at Thomas’s Church, Lepizig.  His responsibilities included composing, teaching, and leading music, as well as providing musicians for that and three other congregations (New Church, St. Peter’s Church, and St. Nicholas’s Church).  From 1729 to 1737 and 1739 to 1741 J. S. Bach directed the Collegium Musicum, founded by Telemann in 1704, at Leipzig.  In 1736 he became the court composer at Leipzig.  Later in life J. S. Bach spent much time traveling; some of the time he was in the court of Frederick II “the Great” of Prussia, in Berlin.

J. S. Bach died, nearly blind and aged 65 years, at Leipzig on July 28, 1750.  His final act was to dictate “Before Thy Throne I Come.”

For J. S. Bach composing music, whether overtly sacred or not, was an act of praising God, not of glorifying himself.  He composed thousands of works yet saw only ten of them published.  Some of his compositions, unfortunately, have not survived to today.  J. S. Bach, a Lutheran church musician, became engaged in arguments regarding music with some Pietistic Lutherans, who thought that his music was too elaborate.  (Pietists!)  Most of our saint’s compositions remained forgotten until the 1800s.  In 1829 Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) started a J. S. Bach revival.  J. S. Bach’s compositions included cantatas, motets, Latin liturgical works, Passions, oratorios, chorales, chamber music, orchestral music, canons, works for keyboard instruments, and works for the lute.  Among his greatest sacred works were the St. Matthew Passion, the St. John Passion, the Christmas Oratorio, the Mass in B Minor, and the Cantata #80. (I prefer a modern performance of the latter work; period instruments do not blow the roof off the building, so to speak.)

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CARL PHILIPP EMANUEL BACH (1714-1788)

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cpe-bach

Image in the Public Domain

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, born at Weimar on March 8, 1714, was Emanuel to those who knew him well.  Georg Philipp Telemann was his godfather.  C. P. E. Bach, who learned music from his father, studied law at Frankfurt, graduating in 1735.  From 1740 to 1767 C. P. E. Bach was the harpsichordist to Frederick II “the Great” of Prussia.  Frederick II’s insistence upon subservience in musicians bothered our saint, who was finally able to resign and become the kappelmeister at Hamburg, succeeding Telemann.  Meanwhile, C. P. E. Bach had married Johanna Maria Dannemann in 1744.  Three of their children survived childhood.

C. P. E. Bach, worthy to be his father’s successor, was a renowned composer, teacher, and performer of the harpsichord and the clavichord.  His Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments (Part I, 1753; Part II, 1762) influenced Franz Joseph Haydn (who called it “the school of schools”), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig von Beethoven.  C.  P. E. Bach’s compositions included symphonies, concertos, chamber music, sonatas, fantasias, dances, fugues, and sacred music.  His sacred music included a Magnificat and 21 Passions.

C. P. E. Bach died, aged 74 years, at Hamburg on December 14, 1788.

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JOHANN CHRISTIAN BACH (1735-1782)

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johann-christian-bach

Image in the Public Domain

Johann Christian Bach, born at Leipzig on September 5, 1735, was a half-brother of C. P. E. Bach.  J. C. Bach, trained in music by his father’s cousin, Johann Elias Bach (1705-1755), went to work with C. P. E. Bach in 1750, after the death of J. S. Bach.  Five years later J. C. Bach left for Italy; there he studied at Bologna.  His conversion from Lutheranism to Roman Catholicism offended much of his family.  From 1760 to 1762 he was the organist at the Basilica-Cathedral of the Nativity of St. Mary, Milan.

J. C. Bach spent most of the last two decades of his life in England.  There he preferred that people call him “John Bach.”  In 1762 he became the composer to the King’s theatre in London; he wrote Italian operas for it.  Later John Bach became the music master to Queen Charlotte (consort of King George III) and her children.  In 1773 John Bach married Italian singer Cecilia Grassi.  The couple experienced severe financial difficulties toward the end of his life; they were the victims of embezzlement.  The composer died, aged 46 years, in London, on January 1, 1782.  Queen Charlotte paid his estate’s debts and provided Cecilia with a pension.

J. C. Bach’s compositions included sonatas, polonaises, minuets, chamber quartets, symphonies, concertos, operas, oratorios, and various sacred works, including a Requiem and settings of the Magnificat, the Salve Regina, the Dies Irae, the Gloria, and the Te Deum.

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The music of these great composers has enriched the lives of many people, including me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE ORDINATION OF FLORENCE LI TIM-OI, FIRST FEMALE PRIEST IN THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANGELA MERICI, FOUNDER OF THE COMPANY OF SAINT URSULA

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF PODLASIE, 1874

THE FEAST OF SAINT SURANUS OF SORA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND MARTYR

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring

Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Johann Christian Bach,

and all those who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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Feast of Thomas Attwood (March 24)   1 comment

St. Paul's Cathedral, London

Above:  St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England, United Kingdom

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-D4-73191

Copyright Holder = Detroit Publishing Company

THOMAS ATTWOOD (NOVEMBER 23, 1765-MARCH 24, 1838)

“Father of Modern Church Music”

James Moffatt, in his 1927 companion volume to the Scottish Presbyterian Church Hymnary, wrote of Thomas Attwood:

He was a man of singularly lovable character, of sincere religious spirit, and of rare musical gifts.

–page 256

Attwood, son of a coal merchant, pursued a life in music.  He played the trumpet and the viola.  Attwood also sang as a chorister at the Chapel Royal.  From there, thanks to the patronage of the Prince of Wales, the future King George IV, he studied abroad in Italy then in Vienna, where he became a favorite pupil of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Attwood was fortunate to have the opportunities he did.  And he made the most of them.  In 1796 he became the organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, and composer to the Chapel Royal.  Twenty-five years later, he became organist at the private chapel (at Brighton) of his patron, the newly-crowned George IV.

And, in 1823, Attwood became one of the first professors at the Royal Academy of Music.  Thirteen years later he became organist at the Chapel Royal, under King William IV.  Attwood also championed the music of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, his good friend, in England and dedicated the Prelude and Fugue for the organ to him.

Attwood’s church compositions made him the “Father of Modern Church Music.”  He composed nine chants, eight anthems, four services, and at least two hymn tunes–Veni Creator and Sanctus.

Music can function as a portal to God and as a means of expressing the talents which God has bestowed upon one.  Thomas Attwood used music to praise God and to create beauty.  That is a legacy worth honoring.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 29, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS LYDIA, DORCAS, AND PHOEBE, COWORKERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL

THE FEAST OF SAINTS GENESIUS I OF CLERMONT AND PRAEJECTUS OF CLERMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; AND SAINT AMARIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SAINT GILDAS THE WISE, HISTORIAN AND ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Thomas Attwood and all those who have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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Revised on December 24, 2016

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